The Curse of Dementia: On watching a loved one diminish before your eyes, poem by Ken Chawkin

I sometimes get depressed seeing what’s happening to my sweetheart over time. She has dementia and lives in a care facility.

I keep my feelings in and don’t burden people with them. Only talk favorably about her. But sometimes I have to write them down. It’s one way to deal with an emotional reaction to a worsening situation. There may be more going on, but I am not always privy to such spiritual transformation.

Writing offers relief. By expressing what I’m feeling, I objectify my feelings in words and no longer hold them in. Then I can rework the words into a poem, and an introduction. This creates a kind of satisfaction. It gives me something else to focus on, and lightens the emotional load.

Hopefully, it will ease the hearts of those carrying a similar burden, should they read this. And maybe inspire them to do the same.

The Curse of Dementia
On watching a loved one diminish before your eyes

This passing of time
Is too fast for comfort

You’re changing but not
Getting any better

As I get used to this
Diminished form of you

I forget who you used to be to me

But this is nothing compared
To what you have lost

Yet who is happier

Mortality marches on
Until it will fall off

This cliff called life

© Ken Chawkin
May 29, 2016
Fairfield, Iowa

Related: An Unwanted Guest | Dementia Blues | Teapot Poem

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9 Responses to “The Curse of Dementia: On watching a loved one diminish before your eyes, poem by Ken Chawkin”

  1. An Unwanted Guest | The Uncarved Blog Says:

    […] The Curse of Dementia: On watching a loved one diminish before your eyes, poem by Ken Chawkin […]


  2. a new tanka: Dementia Blues | The Uncarved Blog Says:

    […] The Curse of Dementia: On watching a loved one diminish before your eyes, poem by Ken Chawkin […]


  3. Ruth Guillard Says:

    Beautiful, Ken! I am going through the same thing with my husband of 53 years. Here is a poem I wrote;


    Someone sits here
    Ninety-five years worth
    Of tired bones, unwilling flesh
    I could, like Judas, deny him
    Saying Stranger, I know you not
    but my heart cries you are still there
    And does not give up till you lift
    Your eyes in recognition

    Liked by 1 person

  4. pati philbrook Says:

    Your poem, Ken, gives even those who are not presently in that experience, the feelings to at least have some empathy of what you are going through. It is such a big event in life. Thank you for sharing this rawness.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Margot Suettmann Says:

    Ken, you are a hero to me and, I am sure, though I did not know you well, before Sali went into this direction, that you have grown so much throughout those years keeping your focus on her innermost reality and the light that she effused.
    I was still thinking about dementia and you ar probably the true expert on it by now. I wanted to look for any deeper text on what is happening to the soul. I found this one: For those who seek to understand the greater spiritual good that comes from a situation whose external features appear to involve great loss, limitation, or hardship, it may be said that accompanying the loss of mental functioning which Alzheimer’s brings is a reorganization of the basic personality structure so that a new birth can take place – one that will have positive consequences for the soul in their future development and evolution. This new birth does not come without a price. And yet it comes because of the soul’s deep wish for healing and wholeness and for a bringing together of the fragments of self into a new configuration.

    For those who must stand and watch, there is a need to be gentle with oneself, for many feelings are possible and are evoked by this situation. Yet it is important to note that in the midst of sorrow and of progressive loss, there can also be a view of the emerging new self that is being born. If the eyes of the heart can be focused not only on the pain of loss or on the difficulties of care, but also on the unfoldment of the new, it may be that the inner Tree of Life can be seen under which the loved one sits, gathering the leaves and petals of their own imaginative process in order to meld them together into a new fabric of wholeness at some future date.”

    and this: “It is in my frequent visits with my pastor Barbara that I have come to view Mom’s disease as an opportunity for spiritual growth. Barbara encouraged me to watch Mom closely and “see how she does it”. I was mystified at first but now I understand what Barbara meant. In the worldly sense, it is devastating to see my mother’s decline into the disease. Selfishly, I often miss being able to share experiences with her and confide in her like I used to. Like anyone, I have my days of darkness and despair over Mom’s illness. Sometimes the grief comes out of nowhere and I find myself doubled over in tears, unable to control the sobbing.
    From a spiritual perspective, however, I see that Mom is coming “unto the Lord” as a child more and more every day and I know that she is showing me how to deepen my own relationship with the creator. When I remember to turn back unto mnyself, I am able to see beyond my selfish worldly desires and know in my heart that Mom is in a process of moving closer to God – and I have the great honor of watching, learning and witnessing “how she does it”.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A baptism by fire: Why Paul Dalio’s debut as a filmmaker is Touched With Fire | The Uncarved Blog Says:

    […] my own experience, writing poetry does have the power to transform and heal. Another film where poetry is featured is […]


  7. For Us—a tanka honoring Sali and what we shared | The Uncarved Blog Says:

    […] cared for her, and experienced joy when we were together, even as I continued to grieve and worry about her when we were apart. It also fulfilled a lifelong desire to experience what devotion, […]


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