Our Biggest Sale of the Year is Here!🎄 ➔

If you were only allowed to have ten people at your mother’s funeral, who would you pick?

How would you decide? Could you decide at all?

Imagine having to call those 10 people to invite them to your mother’s funeral. Imagine the backlash you would receive from the family members who weren’t invited.

Imagine there being no flowers, no guest book, no line of mourners coming to pay their respects at the funeral home. Imagine having only two cars in the procession to the cemetery.

RELATED: The First One At the Casket

Imagine standing at your mother’s graveside service with a total of eight family members. Imagine each of them going back to their respective homes instead of a luncheon gathering at the conclusion of the service.

How sad.

How lonely.

How isolating.

My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in July 2010 at the young age of 62. She passed away on April 4, 2020, during the height of COVID-19 restrictions.

She died during a global pandemic, but not because of it.

Over the course of 10 years, I watched as Alzheimer’s slowly robbed my mom of everything she had, everything she knew.

RELATED: Dear Grandma, I’ll Remember For You

First, it took her short-term memory, her vocabulary, and her ability to drive.

Then, it took her independence, as she needed help getting dressed, preparing meals, and remembering when to eat.

It went on to take even more of her independence, as she needed help showering, brushing her teeth, and using the bathroom.

It wasn’t long before it was no longer safe for her to be home alone, as she would get lost in her own house, open the door for strangers, and have difficulty remembering how to use a phone.

As the years went by, my mom lost the ability to do anything for herself.

She could no longer read, write, or have a conversation. She could no longer call someone or answer the phone. She could no longer dress, bathe, or wipe herself. She could no longer stand up or walk without assistance and eventually, she could not walk or stand up at all. She could no longer get into a car to go anywhere. She could no longer feed herself and in the end, she could not even chew or swallow whole foods.

RELATED: My Mom May Be Dying, But She Will Never Leave Me

For the last two years of her life, my mom did not take a real shower or bath because she was unable to walk up the stairs in our family home. She was clean, thanks to birdbaths, no-rinse soap, and no-rinse shampoo caps, but still—my mom had always enjoyed taking a nice, hot shower.

For the last two months of her life, my mom did not get out of the hospital bed in the front living room of her house. She received any and all care in that bed. She wore an adult diaper, as it was no longer safe to get her out of bed to use the bathroom. She could not sit up, roll over, or bend her arms or legs. She had to rely on others to turn her over, reposition her, and make sure she was comfortable.

For the last few weeks of her life, my mom ate only yogurt, applesauce, ice cream, and baby food. She barely ate or drank anything at all. She slept most of the day and all of the night.

In addition to all of that, my mom forgot the names and faces of all her loved ones. She forgot every memory she ever made in her whole entire life. She even forgot who she was. She never got the chance to really know or babysit her two granddaughters. She never even got to hold them on her own. She missed out on so much.

In the end, my mom passed peacefully in her sleep with my dad sleeping in the bed next to hers.

RELATED: You Can’t Outrun the Grief of Losing a Parent

After 10 years of battling Alzheimer’s, nine months of being on hospice, and two months lying in a hospital bed in her living room, dying, she didn’t even get a real funeral.

Alzheimer’s took everything from my mom and then, the pandemic took her freaking funeral, too.

It is so unbelievably unfair.

She deserved so much more.

During this time of collective grief, I feel the need to distinguish my own, not wanting my loss to be diminished by the collective loss being felt all over the world.

Sure, everyone is grieving right now, but I’m really grieving.

Not only am I grieving the loss of my mom and the loss of her funeral, but I am grieving 10 years of loss curtesy of Alzheimer’s.

I feel sad.

I feel lonely.

I feel isolated.

RELATED: Grief Holds My Hand

I couldn’t even hug my sister the day our mom died. I didn’t see her or my nieces for two months after my mom’s funeral. My nieces are so young and my sister is so afraid of getting this virus.

It’s completely understandable, but it sucked nonetheless.

This is a time when we should all be together, looking through old pictures and sharing stories about my mom. We should be having Sunday dinners together and easing into the new normal of life without our mom.

Nothing about life is normal right now. Then again, I could say the same about the last 10 years.

Alzheimer’s creates a life of uncertainty. Things are constantly changing and you are constantly adjusting to a new normal. But with that uncertainty comes strength, gratitude, and most importantly, resilience.

Never in my wildest dreams did I picture my mom’s 10-year battle with Alzheimer’s ending this way.

I pictured a line out the door. I pictured endless floral arrangements. I pictured myself delivering a heartfelt, moving eulogy to a church full of people. I pictured a large crowd gathered at her graveside as we laid her to rest.

I pictured togetherness.

I guess in a weird way, togetherness is what I got. Not together physically, but together in our grief. Our collective grief.

RELATED: My Grief Was Quarantined With Me

We will get through this. My family. The country. The world.

We are nothing if not resilient.

But it still sucks. And it’s OK to acknowledge that.

It’s OK to acknowledge all of the losses, big and small. I can grieve the loss of my mom and the loss of her funeral. Others can grieve the loss of jobs, proms, graduations, weddings, vacations, and the upcoming school year. And we can all grieve the loss of life as we once knew it.

Please just remember that while everyone is grieving something right now, some of us are really grieving.

Some of us are grieving for a different reason. If you know someone who has lost a loved one during this pandemic, make sure to reach out.

Their grief is not collective.

It is their own.

And they need you now more than ever.

 Originally published on the author’s blog

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Lauren Dykovitz

Lauren Dykovitz is a writer and author. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and two black labs. Her mom, Jerie, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2010 at age 62. Lauren was only 25 years old at the time. Jerie passed away in April 2020 after a ten-year battle with Alzheimer's. Lauren writes about her experience on her blog, Life, Love, and Alzheimer’s. She has also been a contributing writer for several other Alzheimer’s blogs and websites. Lauren self-published her first book, Learning to Weather the Storm: A Story of Life, Love, and Alzheimer's. She is also a member of AlzAuthors, a group of authors who have written books about Alzheimer’s and dementia. Please visit lifeloveandalzheimers.com to read more about Lauren’s journey.

Dear Loss Mom, Grieve Your Baby In Heaven Without Guilt

In: Baby, Grief, Loss

My third baby was due on October 19, 2019. Instead, she was born into heaven on March 24, 2019. Not only do I grieve her more in October than in other months because of her due date, but I also grieve for so many other parents who have also lost their children.  RELATED: A Letter To My Mama From Your Baby In Heaven Pregnancy loss is such a strange journey to walk through. I’m years into it, and there are still days when the grief hits and the tears come and I can’t breathe. On other days, I am so...

Keep Reading

My Sister and I Return To Childhood To Grieve Our Mother

In: Grief
Two women, sitting on swings, color photo

“Grief is itself a medicine,” William Cowper. Everyone processes grief differently. The day after our mother’s death, my sister and I began our grief journey and took up swinging. Not that kind of swinging, Heaven forbid! No. What we chose instead was the weightless, transformational lightness of being that only a tried and true piece of playground equipment can supply.  That morning my sister and I waited rather anxiously for hospice (blessed hospice!) to pick up that wretched hospital bed. We wanted it gone, banished from our sight forever. When the truck carrying the bed and other supplies disappeared down...

Keep Reading

She Was Just a Dog…and So Much More

In: Grief, Living
Young woman in car with dog, same woman years later with dog, color photo

She was just a dog. One of my least favorite sayings is “it’s just a dog” when people comment on how much we love our pets—be it a dog, cat, lizard, chicken, hamster, etc. They’re not wrong . . . Harley was “just” a dog. One random spring morning I asked my mom if I could get a dog of my own. She was working and sick of the phone calls. She said I just had to ask dad. Well, we already had two dogs, so I didn’t have high hopes. Cue dad. He was just about to lie down to take...

Keep Reading

I Wish I Had the Chance to Be Friends with My Mom

In: Grief, Motherhood
Portrait shot of woman, color photo

Dear Mom, I never got the chance to appreciate you as a mother. There was so much life still to do. And not just the big milestones. I’m talking about the parts when daughters grow into mothers themselves and have the chance to appreciate their moms for everything they did for them. The chance to get to know their own mother as a person instead of just a parent. You left this earth soon after I became I mother myself. And now I sit here and think back on memories of you from when I was growing up. And, oh,...

Keep Reading

The Faith and Fear of Trying for a Rainbow Baby

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Pregnant woman sitting on living room floor

When we decided to start a family we dove in head first. After having been together for five years and married for a year, we were ready. It was September when we decided to give it a go. By mid-December, I took a test. My first positive pregnancy test. I had a life growing inside me! I’ll never forget my husband’s smile when I told him. We embraced and cried together. We couldn’t believe it could be this easy. The next few weeks consisted of a wave of pregnancy symptoms and before I knew it, we were going to the...

Keep Reading

Angel Babies are Heaven’s Gatekeepers

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Mother and baby silhouette

I never seemed to have the right words. I didn’t have the right words at four years old when my parents lost my 11-month-old brother, and I never seemed to have the right words as I watched family members and close friends lose both the new life growing within their wombs and the beautiful, precious life resting in their weary arms. So, I did what I thought would offer the most comfort. I simply tried to show up and be there the best I could. I shopped for their favorite treats. I dropped meals off on front porches and toys...

Keep Reading

I Should Be Picking You up from School Today

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Woman sad with eyes closed

I would have cried.  I see the line of cars in the school pick-up line, and my heart is hit with grief, love, and wistfulness all at the same time.  You, sweet boy, should be there, waiting for me to pick you up.   I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gone over it in my mind. Your first day of preschool. I’ve thought about your outfit—little jeans and a hoodie with a ball cap. Would you be into superheroes? What backpack would you want? I would’ve taken you school shopping, picking out all the supplies you’d need. And...

Keep Reading

Secondary Infertility Took Me By Surprise

In: Baby, Faith, Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Mother holding toddler by open door

Selfish. Unfair. Guilt stricken. Shameful. Those were just a few of the words that regularly stabbed my lamenting heart as I longed for a second child. Yes, I was grateful for my healthy, beautiful boy who made my dream of motherhood come true, but why did I not feel complete—was he not enough? Was I doing this motherhood thing all wrong and didn’t deserve a second child? Why did I long to give him a sibling so badly knowing millions were aching for their first—how could I be so insensitive? So many questions, so many buts and so many whys....

Keep Reading

Grieving the Baby You Never Got To Know Doesn’t Make You Weak

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Man and woman embrace outside

It seems like almost a lifetime ago that I looked down at my first positive pregnancy test. I couldn’t believe that it happened so fast. My husband and I had just passed one month of marriage, and there we were expecting a baby. I remember how elated we both were and full of gratefulness.  After we told a small group of close friends and family, the bleeding started. “No . . . this can’t be,” I thought. Not our baby. Not me. I Googled so many things and found reassurance in the fact that some women bleed through their pregnancies....

Keep Reading

Finding God in the Before and After

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Woman standing by ocean at sunrise

Everybody loves a good before and after. Two little photos, placed side by side, are evidence of a transformation. A significant weight loss. A sassy new hairdo. A piece of furniture resurrected from a garbage heap.  A before and after is proof that things can be changed. Anything can be brought back from a place of ruin or neglect. With a can-do attitude and a little elbow grease, your face, your home, your backside—anything, really—can be made shiny, new, and desirable. The trip from before to after is usually a long one. It might only take seconds for us to...

Keep Reading