I had the privilege of facilitating an Alzheimer’s caregiver support group meeting this afternoon. For several years I facilitated my own caregiver support meeting but retired from doing so in 2013. Earlier this year I was the substitute facilitator for this same meeting and was so very impressed with the group of ladies I met then, a few of whom were in the meeting again today.
One of the gals, Georgina (not her real name) lost her husband to Alzheimer’s in January. She told the group that while her husband was still alive, the two of them were always invited to a Holiday gathering of friends – all married couples – to celebrate the Christmas season. She found out recently that she was not invited to this year’s event.
Quite frankly, she hadn’t yet thought about the Holiday party, thinking the invitation might be forthcoming but certainly wasn’t stressing out about it. Quite innocently, one of her friends mentioned the party in passing, saying, “Looking forward to seeing you at the annual Christmas celebration” not realizing that the host of the party had not included Georgina on this year’s guest list.
The attendees at today’s meeting had these thoughts to say about the situation:
- perhaps they thought the party would make you feel sad because your husband wouldn’t be able to attend the party with you this year;
- maybe the party planners figured you simply wouldn’t be interested;
- or is it possible that they considered you a third wheel that would make them feel uncomfortable since the rest of them still had their spouses with them?
My input to the group: it is unfortunate that they hadn’t invited Georgina so that she could have had the opportunity to decide whether or not she felt the annual event was something in which she was still interested.
I’ve provided this brief article to encourage all of us to do better when we find ourselves pondering similar scenarios after friends and acquaintances lose their significant other.
Right after someone dies, the survivor is inundated with offers of help – invitations to lunch and dinner – and in general, he or she receives more attention than she can probably handle.
Let’s all do better one month later, six months later, or whatever is needed to break the isolation that losing someone forces onto the survivor.