Missing her friend

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My grandmom has a good friend with dementia, and this weekend she asked me an interesting question. “Will my friend with dementia miss someone when they pass away?” she asked me. 

The question made me think of this event that happened at my first community.

Vera and Mildred were best friends. I’ve written about them before in a few different posts. They were roommates, and Mildred depended on Vera for cueing, reminders, and regular assistance. Vera relied on Mildred for companionship and friendship.

One day, Vera’s family decided to move her to another community. I was broken-hearted over her move, as she was (and still remains) my favorite resident of all time. Vera did not get to say goodbye to Mildred, and that was probably for the best, as the pair would’ve become very upset and confused.

But, when Vera’s son’s car pulled away with her in it, I dried my teary eyes and went back to the couch where Mildred sat. I found her not at her couch, but instead, in her doorway, looking into the room she once shared with Vera.

Half of the furniture was gone: Vera’s bed, her chair, and her nightstand. Mildred stared, perplexed by this new layout.

She turned to me. “Where’s all the furniture at?” she asked. 

Mildred had loved her friend, she knew her friend, but, without her friend there, she could not figure out what was missing.

I did not know what to say. Mildred turned to me again. 

“Is someone going to sleep in here with me tonight?” she asked, softly.

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Rachael Wonderlin is an internationally-recognized dementia care expert and consultant. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of two published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. Rachael owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting and education company.

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