A Tale of Two Friendships by Rick Cano | Oct 16, 2017 | Alzheimer's disease, dementia, Judith Ashley, Judith Ashley Romance, The Sacred Women's Circle series, Unconditional support | 2 comments Judith is the author of The Sacred Women 2 Comments Maggie Lynch on October 17, 2017 at 9:32 pm First, you are an AMAZING person for this kind of unconditional LOVE and support you provide these two different friends. They are exceedingly blessed to have you in their lives. Second, your practice of unconditional love and support is one that many people cannot take on for themselves. It takes a centered person, someone who is very comfortable with herself, her beliefs and values, that she can take that final journey from life to death with someone else. American's, in general, are not at all comfortable with thinking about, planning for, or even discussing the prospect of death. That makes it really hard for them to provide support in that journey. It is incredibly hard to stay so supportive as a person declines–whether it is a dementia diagnosis or any other terminal disease. It is hard hearing the emotion behind their experience and the pain of the difficult decisions they need to make. And often stay with them as they go back and forth on that decision and go through all those emotions again and again. It is a rare person who can practice this kind of unconditional support. Many people cannot do this because they cannot separate their friends reaction from their own. Some people fall into depression themselves when they can't "fix" the situation for their friend. In the case of dementia or alzheimers, it is even harder if/when they get to the place of not knowing who you are. It is easy to think: She doesn't even recognize me. Why am I putting myself through this? I've heard many children of failing parents be unable to cope. Most of us get something back from friendship–at least some type of recognition of ourselves as individuals. Friendship is a two-way street of give and take for most of us. Even when two friends are healthy, if the relationship is not balanced the friendship usually falls apart. If it changes so that one person is continuously taking/needing and the other is getting nothing to nurture them. It is rare that friendship survives. Yet, what you describe is that change. I certainly agree, from a personal perspective, that being able to accept and transition with a progressive disease is the easiest way to go–like your one friend. It allows you to be present in the world to the best of your ability and hours are not filled with stress or trying to change that reality. However, one cannot expect someone to change who they are because they are dying. My experience has been that when people receive a terminal diagnosis they tend to intensify their response even more than in their healthiest days. If they were always a fighter against reality they become even more so–like your friend who is certain there will be a cure. Whatever, one is in life usually does not change when they are toward the end of that journey. If the person lived life in a roll-with-the-punches-and-move-on kind of way, then they do that then as well. Bless you, Judith, for being who you are. You are an example of someone who practices and lives her values even when it means heartbreak and challenges. Reply Judith Ashley on October 18, 2017 at 4:29 am Thank you, Maggie. I've found that this is in reality the last gift I can give to someone who is a part of my life. When I was a professional guardian, our Code of Ethics stated that we were to make decisions as if we were that person. That perspective has been a blessing because it takes "me" out of the equation. I will admit that I'm no where near 100% in that regard but my friends and family who have and still do ask me to be their Health Care Representative know that I will do my best to honor their wishes at this point in their lives. My brother told me a story that stayed with me. He attended a church service – just walked into a church he wasn't a member of one Sunday. The pastor's sermon centered around the recent death of his father and as my brother recounted the words and I paraphrase: If we believe in the hereafter with our God then why would we not rejoice when our loved one goes to join Him? Living our beliefs and values isn't always as easy as we think it might or even should be but when I am struggling with a problem, I do stop and reflect on where my struggle comes from. Often it is my attempt to "make" someone else live "my values" instead of supporting them in living their own. Thank you again for a thoughtful response to my post. Reply Submit a Comment Cancel replyYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment * Name * Email * Website Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.