“For years before her death at age 96, Nancy Lundebjerg’s mother underwent a long, slow decline.
“Arthritis made it hard for Margaret Lundebjerg to get around. After two hip surgeries, she needed a walker when she was out and about.
“Incontinence was a source of discomfort, as was the need to rely on aides to help her perform daily chores.”
“When families avoid talking about an aging parent’s frailty or serious illness, the person with the condition can become isolated and family relationships can become strained.”
“Little by little, Margaret became frail and isolated. “There was a sadness to seeing my mother’s circle of life become diminished,” said Nancy Lundebjerg, 58, CEO of the American Geriatrics Society, who wrote about her experiences in the organization’s journal.
“The anguish accompanying aging isn’t openly discussed very often, nor is its companion: grief. Instead, these emotions are typically acknowledged only after a loved one’s death, when formal rituals recognizing a person’s passing —the wake, the funeral, the shiva — begin.
“But frailty and serious illness can involve significant losses over an extended period of time, giving rise to sadness and grief for years.”
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