Finding Gratitude On Your Alzheimer’s Journey

What if you woke up tomorrow morning and decided today would be different?

What if you told yourself to focus only on the good things that happen?

You will see and acknowledge all of the bad stuff (we all know there’s a lot), but you won’t let it drag you down.

Instead, you will keep pushing forward and seeking out all of the good things, no matter how small.

You will decide that the good stuff holds more weight than the bad.

You will stop for a beat and allow the good, joyful moments to really sink in. And then you will write them down so you won’t forget them later.

Humans are wired to look for what’s wrong in any given situation. We are wired to focus on the negative, not the positive. We see both, but we really hone in on all of the bad stuff.

What if you could flip it around?

What if you could see both, but really hone in on all of the good stuff?

I bet you would start to see more good than bad.

It’s hard, yes, but it’s possible.

I know because I’ve been there.

Many times during my mom’s ten-year battle with Alzheimer’s, I was depressed and hopeless. I couldn’t see anything to be grateful for. I could only see everything I had lost.

Lots of pain and grief.

No gratitude.

Eventually I began to change my perspective. I started to look for things I could still be grateful for. I started to focus on the little, joyful moments rather than all of the big, bad ones.

It worked.

Not all the time, but it worked enough to pull me out of the deep, dark hole I had been in for so long. It wasn’t always enough to keep me out of that deep, dark hole, as I sometimes fell back in, but it was enough to help me climb out again. Time and time again, even in these past few months since my mom has died.

I’m still working on it. As I’ve learned, hope, optimism, and gratitude are all muscles. We need to work on them all the time to make them grow. After all, we are fighting our own wiring in a desperate attempt to reverse it. That takes work.

But I’m willing to keep working on it.

And I hope you will join me.

There is nothing you can do to fix your loved one’s disease.

It is a hopeless situation in that we know the outcome is certain.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t change the journey, or at least try.

If you can find something to be grateful for, even after a bad day…

If you can go to bed with even the tiniest sliver of hope that tomorrow will be better, even if it’s not…

If you can see all the bad things around you, but choose to focus on the good…

That’s hope. That’s optimism. That’s gratitude.

Will this journey still be filled with a lot of pain and grief?

Yes.

But maybe, just maybe, it can also be filled with gratitude.

November 20, 2019: Just after my mom called me her daughter.

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