Monday, August 2, 2021

Life After Death Dementia Story

This true story is from my book Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes.

When Mamie Wilson (pseudonym) became my hospice patient, she had several unusual qualities that made me wonder. At sixty-five, she was the youngest person assigned to me after years of volunteering at various Detroit nursing homes. She had the same name as my grandmother, and I had her grandmother's name. When we made these discoveries during our first meeting, we took them as signs that we were destined to have a great patient - volunteer relationship. In time, however, I learned that the most unusual thing about Mamie was what she said.

“Is your mother alive?” Mamie asked me one day.

“No, she died a few years ago in her eighties,” I responded.

“You know, you can still be with her and talk to her if you want to.”

“Oh, I know we can still communicate.”

“No, I mean for real. You can be with her in person. Just get her clothes together and her shoes. Don’t forget her coat. They say it’s cold outside. Take them to the cemetery where she’s buried. Just set them on top of her grave and wait. She’ll rise out of her grave and put them on. Then you can take her home with you. In every way, she’ll be the same person you knew. Other people won’t be able to see her, but you will.”

“Hmm. I’ve never heard that before.”

Mamie responded, “Most people haven’t. I know about it because I did it with my two grown sons. They were both murdered on the same day in a drive-by shooting. I didn’t know how I would get through the pain. Finally, I took their clothes to the cemetery and did what I just told you. Both of them came home with me. It was the best day of my life. I got my sons back.” Satisfied, she smiled.

Some people will dismiss this story as crazed comments of a demented woman. But if you really listen, you’ll hear the magnificent empowerment in her words.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes
This book is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers. 
Visit Frances Shani Parker's Website

1 comment:

  1. This true story below happened a few weeks ago with a friend of mine. Gina, who lives with dementia, told me she spoke on the phone last week to our friend Ann. Ann actually died last year from COVID, but Gina said Ann told her she is doing just fine. I didn’t remind Gina that Ann was dead. We just looked at each other with big smiles when I said, “Wow! That’s great news!” ��
    Several people have told me that entering the world of people living with
    dementia can be quite meaningful and pleasant when it is done correctly. They say that it uplifts moods of those persons with dementia who have difficulty dealing with death of loved ones or other experiences they may find difficult or unpleasant. Often in their reality, a situation can be less stressful when they respond in ways that make them feel better and are supported by others who are not forcing them to accept another reality. If you have had this experience, consider sharing it with others.