I was not in denial.

I repeat.

I was NOT in denial.

I am so tired of hearing from different people that they think I was in denial for the longest time about my Dad’s condition.

No, I was NOT.

Me with my Dad during his stay in the nursing home

I knew he had Alzheimer’s.  I knew there was no cure.  I knew there had yet to be a single survivor of this disease.  I knew things were going to continue to get worse, instead of better.  I knew he would eventually lose his life to it.


But what I also knew, and still know today, is that our God is a mighty God.  A faithful God.  A loving Father.  The Ultimate Physician.  Anything is possible.

So, I chose to be optimistic, to be hopeful, to always find that cup half full, and to always find a shred of joy in each day, in each visit I had with my Dad before he died.

There is ALWAYS something to be thankful for… ALWAYS.

Who likes being around Debbie Downer all the time?  Who likes being around a Negative Nelly?  How does that help the situation or the person in the situation?

That’s why my Dad never saw me sad or crying when I was around him.

Of course my heart was breaking on the inside seeing him digress more and more each visit.

But would that help him?  Would that make the situation better?  The outcome any different?


First Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

I clung to that verse.

Do you know how hard it is to be thankful in ALL circumstances?

At first I was thankful he still recognized me.  He may not have known my name, and wouldn’t even say my name when I asked him repeatedly to just say “Heather,” but I know he knew that he should know me.

I was thankful he was still mobile.

I was thankful my kids willingly came with me to visit him and for the joy they would bring to all the residents’ faces.

I was thankful for his tight hugs and a sweet kiss every time I would leave him.

I was thankful to hear him say, “I love you, too.”

Some days I had to dig deep for things to be thankful for after each visit.

That doesn’t mean I was in denial.

But striving to find joy in all circumstances sure doesn’t make facing Alzheimer’s any easier or more bearable.

The last day I saw my Dad alive, it did finally hit me like a ton of bricks that this was it.  This was the end.

I had been hopeful for what felt like such a long time, that seeing him laying there, moments away from being in the arms of Jesus, I just lost it.

I finally cried.

And not just cried…. like sobbed.  Uncontrollable, full on ugly cry.

And it was then that I had something else to be thankful for…

I was thankful my Mom was with him when he went.

I was thankful he was comfortable.

I was thankful my brother had gotten a last visit in to see him, as I had thought for sure he’d still be around at Christmas time.

I was thankful I had a final opportunity to tell him I loved him, and a final opportunity to tell him goodbye.

And then I was thankful he was finally at peace.  He was finally where he always wanted to be.  I knew the final outcome would always end exactly the way it did.

So, NO.  I was never in denial.

But… I am now.

Denial is the first of the five stages of grief, followed by anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance.

According to grief.com Denial is the first of the five stages of grief. It helps us to survive the loss. In this stage, the world becomes meaningless and overwhelming. Life makes no sense. We are in a state of shock and denial. We go numb. We wonder how we can go on, if we can go on, why we should go on. We try to find a way to simply get through each day. Denial and shock help us to cope and make survival possible. Denial helps us to pace our feelings of grief. There is a grace in denial.  As you accept the reality of the loss and start to ask yourself questions, you are unknowingly beginning the healing process. You are becoming stronger, and the denial is beginning to fade. But as you proceed, all the feelings you were denying begin to surface.

I very well could have been denying  myself the opportunity to be sad while Dad was still here, but that’s not how I want to live my life.  Now that he’s gone and as I sit and write this blog, it just doesn’t feel real that he’s really gone.  Looking at his pictures staring back at me on this computer screen, his eyes lock on mine and it’s like he’s looking right at me, through me even, to the inner most part of my soul.  But there’s no denying it, he is gone.

There is a grace in denial.  What ever would we do without grace?

I’m pretty sure you all can figure out I’m angry.

Bargaining… no.  Never did that and still won’t do that one.  We asked God to take him home and now that he’s where he always wanted to be,  I wouldn’t bargain to bring him back or ask he give up his reward.  He was ready to go.

Depression… maybe a little.  Doing this blog was supposed to be therapeutic for me, but in all honesty it has just made me sad.  It’s made me think of him a lot, miss him a lot, and still wish he were here.  So, that only leaves acceptance.  Someday.  Someday we’ll all be in a better place, and although I may never be okay with how things played out, I will accept reality and learn to live with it.  Someday I’ll be okay and at peace living a life without him in it and accept that as my new norm.

But, that’s not today.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

Thank you God for being the ultimate comforter.  The one to whom we can share all of our cares and worries, the one who gently wipes away our tears of joy as well as our tears of sadness.  May we feel your loving arms around us, be given and accepting of the gift of your grace, and begin to heal.  May the only thing left to deny be ourselves, so we can pick up our cross and follow You.

16 thoughts on “I was not in denial.

  1. Susie poyner says:

    Very well spoken! It is very hard to watch the person you love, slowly slip away, not being able to do anything more to help them! But you all were there for the great days, good days, bad days, very rough days, and up until his last day! He was a awesome man, I’m glad I got to know him, heaven is full of beautiful angels, so he will be in awesome company! Never forget who he was before that nasty disease took control! He always loved you all, always will!❤️🙏

  2. Judy Roberts says:

    Great job again, Heather! I feel the same way as you. I long for him to still be here, but he is in his forever paradise with the Lord and that comforts me. Finding joy each and every day, some days are harder than others, but a good way to live each day! Love you, sweet daughter of mine!

      • Judy Roberts says:

        Thank you, Pat. She is a special girl! She had a special connection with Geren. She has told his story so beautifully. Love reading this blog! Hope you are doing well, Pat.

  3. Lisa Lewey-Shields says:

    Oh Heather, once again you nailed it!!!!! Your thoughts and words get better and more amazing each blog. The world needs to see you words for anyone who is or will walk in your shoes whether it be Alzheimer’s or cancer or any other disease that plaques us on earth until we are home with our Savior. Thank you for every word you write and share with us.

  4. Jenn Lance says:

    My sweet Heather, I pray that God hears your cries, and provides you only the comfort and healing that He can bring. But in the meantime, I am only a phone call away with two arms ready to give a hug, two ears to listen, and a cup of coffee in hand. Love you.

  5. Karen Moore says:

    Beautifully written, Heather. Although your dad is resting in the arms of our Lord and not here with you and your family every day, he will remain in your hearts and lives from now on. His strong example and love for the Lord and his family will be an encouragement to you as you continue to work through your grief. As you and your children experience major milestones in your life, you will automatically feel that urge to reach out and share the good news with him as you have in times past. Keep doing so through this blog and elsewhere on life’s journey. Prayers to you and your family.

  6. Brian and Sue Blair says:

    It is such a terrible disease. Always remember the good days. I know that it isnt easy to lose your dad. Ive been down that road too. Thinking of you at this time

  7. Barb Warren says:

    You are doing a wonderful job helping so many of us through our own life. As I told you before my Mother died in Nursing home after an entire year, but that was one of her best years. She was well taken care of and I saw her every day as did my younger brother. She did know our names, but she knew our faces. This year helped both of us talk to her and settle any little thing in our lives that was bothering us. We also do not wish her back, she is with our Father and our Lord. Thank you !

  8. Paula says:

    So beautifully said! Acceptance doesn’t mean “without sadness” it simply means release.
    May the Holy Spirit surround you with His comfort and peace. For you and your family, God bless you.

    Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4

  9. Cindy Crawford says:

    This is so beautiful! I lost my mom 14 yrs ago & lost my dad 10 yrs ago. Both to cancer. It is stilll all a blur to me, but when my husband lost his dad last year on April 10, it hit me like a ton of bricks! I didn’t know what to say to make my husband feel any better. His dad was his world! He was very spiritual & knew he was going to be with the Lord. We were thankful for his peace, but it’s been so hard on my husband. I am going to have him read your blog. I think your way of explaining grief would make him feel better. Thank you Heather & I’m so sorry for your loss!!

  10. Jeb says:

    I just stumbled across this blog you have. It’s a good way to organize your thoughts and feelings. I wish I would have thought of this when I went through it. I know well the road you are going down.
    I lost my father when I was 18. It happened suddenly on the morning of my brothers wedding day, as we were all scurrying to get ready for what should have been a wonderful day. No warning. No chance to say goodbyes or I love yous.
    20 years later the pain is still there. Someone wearing his cologne. A song that reminds me of him. Visiting with my Aunt, who looks just like him.
    Life is tough without your Dad. Especially if he was a good one. I had to grow up alone, in short order. I needed his wisdom from years of experience. I wish so much that he could share my accomplishments and even my failures. And most of all, he has 11 beautiful grand children that he never got to meet.
    But death doesn’t mean you have really lost him. You still hear his voice when you have to make a tough decision…or when you are with your children and his voice comes out of your own mouth. When someone says you look like your father or “you remind me of your father” it becomes the greatest compliment.
    It gets better with time, but it never goes away. It finally will when we meet our Father in heaven. Then I believe we will understand or at least accept that this has all worked out for good somehow. God Bless

  11. Aunt Susan says:

    You are so loved! I hope you find comfort in the fact your are a beacon of light to all who know and love you!❤️

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