Death by Dementia
dandelion seeds blowing at sunset

Some deaths
Are like the slamming of a door.
Sudden. Complete.
You are either
On one side of the door,
Or the other,
With no contact between.

But dementia isn’t like that.

It is simultaneously more gentle,
And more cruel.
Not one, complete, total, goodbye.
Instead there are
An eternity and a brevity of small goodbyes,
Day after day.

It is the blowing away of a dandelion.
A million pieces of fluff.
Each piece lifting and floating away
Until nothing is left
But the stem.
Leaving not even a
Shadow of the bright yellow
Dandelion bloom which
Stood strong before,
Facing wind and rain,
Turning its face to the sun.

In a
In a lifetime…
Only a limp, gray, weathered stem
Lies curled on the ground.

Robertta Ellyn Thoryk

Written by Guest Author
The Caregiver Space accepts contributions from experts for The Caregiver's Toolbox and provides a platform for all caregivers in Caregiver Stories. Please read our author guidelines for more information and use our contact form to submit guest articles.

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  1. I shared this poem at my fathers funeral because it really spoke to how I had been feeling as my father continued to drift futher and futher away because of the dreaded disease called dementia. It really makes the greiving process last for so long, every day, week, month we loose more and more of our loved ones until they are no longer there in spirit, but they are still there in body. Thank you for putting pen to paper and writing this heartfelt poem of how so many of us feel.

    • My mom just passed on the 9th and I finally was able to say the last farewell. Thank you for what you penned. So perfect!

    • Breaks my heart ?. My mom has demintia too. She’s 81 yrs old. She’s still alive and I am her caregiver. Often times I cried about her condition but what keeps me going we are both christians and she still remember God and continues to pray.. the love & bond between us gives me strength.

  2. And when it’s all over, you continue to think of the things you might have done to make it easier for your loved one. Love doesn’t stop when they are diagnosed nor when they die from this horrible disease.

    • Big hug! No, love doesn’t stop, ever. But I find it very hard to definitively say at what point my mother died, because this person curled up like a cadaver in her bed has not been my mother for a long time, sigh. Now I care for her bones and a heart that still beats, while already mourning the loss of the beautiful confident woman I knew.

    • No, I love doesn’t die. Ever. ❤️ But what I am most surprised it is and I can’t really say definitively when my mother died. I still care for her curled bones and beating heart that lay in her bed like a cadaver left by the Spirit, but the mother that I knew is not here. When did she go?

  3. This poem really says it all. The pain for the caregiver might even be worse than for the one with dementia.
    thought of raking leaves and when the wind blows, you’re back where you started…. I used to write poetry when I
    was feeling down or stressed. I haven’t been able to focus long enough without falling apart. I may try again. Thank you for sharing.

    • Pick up your pen. Write again. Breathe. <3

  4. I worked with many patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and I could not help but notice the pain their family members go through. It is in their faces, their body language. I have heard many of them say, they feel like the already lost their loved ones way before they passed away. So very sad. Yet I have witnessed such beauty seeing them really connect again every now and then; the sight of pure love coming from their faces.

    • It’s true. You say goodbye and lose the person you love over and over again….when they stop getting mail, even advertisements, with their name on it…..when they stop driving….when they stop going out to eat or to activities….when they stop holding conversations…when their memory and attention become so short that even TV commercials no longer engage them…when they stop walking….when they lay in bed, in a fetal position, and need to be turned. You say goodbye to the person u knew and loved, readjust to a new normal….just to then need to say goodbye to THAT person all over again and again and again….

  5. Very meaningful and true.

    • ❤️❤️❤️


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