Does love really never fade?

Now I've joined twitter I've discovered there's a whole new world of positive attitudes towards dementia out there which is a great relief after my experiences with the many different forums I've joined over the past two years but people still obviously have different attitudes and different beliefs.  Yesterday someone asked us all to retweet if we believed that the feeling of love was never lost even when the memory of it has gone.  I read and reread that statement and in the end I couldn't bring myself to retweet because you see I don't believe it.  We're frequently told that the feelings of love a person with dementia has had will always be felt if not remembered and the essence of the old them still exists in the very depths of their being but we're also told that each case of dementia is entirely different to the next so how can we say these things are true for everyone.  As far as I can see the Ash I fell in love with over forty years ago, the Ash I've lived, laughed and shared my life with no longer exists in any shape or form.  This doesn't mean I dislike him or that I mind being with him just that it's not him.  I don't understand him and I don't know him.  He may still have a sense of humour but it's not one I recognize.  I don't know how to make him laugh, I don't know how to help him relax and I don't know what he wants from life.  Years ago Ash and I were discussing whether we could live without each other and he said he could live without me but he'd much rather live with me and that made so much sense.  We chose each other, we chose to live our lives together and we chose to enjoy each other's company on a permanent basis.  That then is what I think of when I'm considering what love is and I don't see how it's possible to love a stranger.  And that works both ways.  Because of his dementia Ash no longer understands me, he doesn't know who I am, he doesn't understand when I crack a joke and because he is so focused on his own needs (and how could he not be?) there is no longer any room for me.  Love in my opinion is a two way street, at least in a relationship.  You support each other, you want the best for each other and you make each other feel they are the world to you.  Our relationship now is one sided.  From me there is commitment, there is duty and there is sympathy (I also try for empathy but how can I possibly understand what he's going through) but I'm not sure there is love in it's truest sense.  From Ash there is a sense of need, of survival and of self preservation but those three things don't leave much room for anything else.  This is still not a bad life and I have memories of a much, much better one to keep me going when things are difficult but I'm sure I'm not the only person to feel that love has disappeared so I thought I'd put it out there and then if you too have these thoughts you'll know you're not alone.

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dasntn said…

totally understand. People often say things like "you must love your wife very much to cope the way you do" but that just leaves me thinking "do I?" A sense of duty, of paying back for the love we shared in the past seems to be perhaps more accurate. Or maybe it's become more like the love you feel for a child who is dependant on you. Still love, but not in the way it was.

I think the general expectation that you still go on loving your other half the same way you used to is just one more unnecessary pressure on cares.

my tuppence worth
Jane said…
Thanks for this David. It's definitely a 'paying back' for the love we used to share and for the support he's given me over the years and I'm sure he'd have done the same for me if our situations were reversed. However you're so right about the additional pressure it puts on us as carers and for me at least there's often a sense that I'm missing something but I've looked and looked and he really isn't there any more. It's so good to know I'm not on my own in all this and that other people feel the same way.
Cornwall Girl said…
I think you have summed it up very well David and thats why its so very difficult. The love we have for our children is by and large unconditional the love between spouses is rarely so... thast the difficulty and something I can only aspire to...
Anonymous said…
Jane I totally agree with your blog.
Also I think David's comment was so true.