As I went through some closets with Mom, to determine what gets moved to the nursing home, some things brought particular grief.
An easel. It was just a metal, adjustable easel. But my mother is an artist, a water colorist, and when we looked at the easel to decide whether it moves, it brought a flood of sadness. Saying "no" means recognizing that her artist days are done - at least, the productive, "I-can-go-anywhere-to-paint" days are done. Yes, she could put paint to paper in a group activity in the nursing home, but for someone who painted at the ocean, in the Southwest, on vacations ... it is a terrible loss.
And the long pink dress. I don't really know what in her life it connected to, but she felt so sad to think that she will never need that again. That the 'dress-up' days are over. That she won't feel special and pretty like she did before, when she was a beloved wife and socially active woman. Miss Topeka, 1937.
There were other small things - scarves and fancy purses, even underwear that she no longer uses now that she needs disposable briefs. A hundred things that say her life is so reduced that it now fits into a semi-private room in a nursing home.
I've been Miss Positivity, reminding her that the easel only reminds her of a part of her Life, that the Life she's enjoyed is the reality, the joy. But, I do get it, I understand. Touching the easel, the pink dress, the fancy purse - brings back a spark of the life she enjoyed.
It's time to grieve that loss.