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Loss in a Time of Love

My husband has a brain illness. He has been diagnosed with depression and bipolar and suffers from occasional anxiety attacks. He takes several medications. Recently he suffered a concussion and that played havoc with his medicine and with his ability to respond. Suddenly, he can only focus on one thing at a time. He moves slower and seems to have to think quite a bit before responding. His sense of humor, although there, shows itself very rarely. He is given to more obsession since the accident and he is frightened of going to places that might have steps.

While all of this is understandable, I miss the man I knew.

It became evident to me the other day when I responded to a friend asking how my husband was. As I told her what was happening, I realized that I was grieving.

All of us who have to deal with brain illness in our lives know that we grieve some time or another at what is happening to us and our relationship with our loved one. We have to look to a new normal, a new way of responding, a new way of loving. And it is hard. We know what we had. We know what we lost.

And yet we see glimmers of goodness. Last night as my husband and I talked in the kitchen, we were able to laugh together at a silly incident during the day. We were also able to share our pride in our son at learning of his new job. And he was able to voice during the night that he needed me to hold him because he needed to feel my love. Those are precious moments I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Brain illness is wicked and full of a range of emotions for the caregiver. But where there is anger and frustration and grief, there is also peace and joy and love. We know the courage that it takes to open our hearts to another. Keeping that heart open no matter what is a true act of love.




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