When do you say “goodbye” to a dementia patient?
Sounds a bit mean does it not? However it is a genuine question on perspective.
The person is still the person despite the dementia, though at times their mind is not ‘here’, the feelings for the person are the same, they may even be stuck in the struggle to find – words, or mentally in a place thats different altogether.
And is that goodbye for the persons benefit; or is it for our own?
Does the goodbye need recognition for it to be validated? Or does it not count if it is forgotten when they close their eyes for just a little while?
And why do we feel the need for it, or carry the guilt for not saying it before the final goodbye ceremony of a funeral. Which makes it seem like it has to be at least said to the living.
But when your mind blanks areas of ones mind they are no longer accessible. It is as though it never happened. So who’s perspective holds the power of the goodbye?
We are not the only species to do funerals, it has been recorded that crows do it, even to the extent of holding a silence and a gathering at the final resting place of a fallen crow. Crows also tell stories to their young much like our stories of things to watch out for. So this gets me to thinking as to whether or not they also feel the need to say goodbye, and do they also feel guilty if they do not?
Or do we need to make every goodbye the last goodbye, carried on a smile and with a warmth in our hearts. Letting the person know that we care, and that we value the time spent with them.
Maybe thats what the crows do, because can we really say when our goodbye is going to count?