In our clinical practice, my husband Bill and I did a great deal of marriage counseling as a team. This allowed each person in the couple to have their own therapist and allowed Bill and me to model the much needed communication skills most couples lacked.

 
 
When Bill was in the last autumn of his life, the maple tree in our front yard served as a symbol of all he was losing as we watched Alzheimer's ravage his body and mind. Full and lush in the summer, this tree is a brilliant red and orange before it sheds each and every leaf. It is one of the most beautiful trees in our village. People often knock on my door and ask if they can have some leaves that have fallen beneath it.

Alzheimer's robs us of so much and living with Bill as he went from being brilliant and competent to a man who could barely function taught me the treachery and pain of this disease. As leaves fell from our maple tree, that last autumn, sometimes just one would drift slowly to the ground and other times a breeze would come up and they would fall in clusters seemingly marking Bill's losses. At the same time, on some days one of his skills would disappear while on other days it seemed he had lost several abilities all at once. I knew, that like the leaves, Bill's memories and skills would all be gone someday. Tears usually rolled down my face as I stood watching those leaves fall to the earth.

 
 
It happened a few times during these past two weeks. As Labor Day approached I flipped on the television only to see ads about Christmas. The first time was in the last week of August when an ad was aired about the upcoming Christmas movies. The second time it happened that week, the station aired an ad about Christmas sales. Just after Labor Day I saw a post on Facebook when someone reminded lookers that with Labor Day behind us, Christmas was on the horizon. So since the thought of  holidays is already on the minds of those who grieve, I will jump in and address the subject now.

 

Personal Growth &
Grief Support Center