When They're Gone, But Not Yet Passed

Lillian B. Rubin has written a heartbreaking account of what it's like to live with her husband who suffers from severe dementia:

[M]ourning a real death is quite different from mourning a living one. Whatever one believes about death -- it's a passage into a kinder world, it's entry into nothingness, or anything in between -- it's still an undeniable fact. Death is finite; life, as we know it, is over. Yes, I know, people awaken with visions of visitations, but eventually we come to accept death as an end to life. But when the brain dies and leaves the body intact, there is no end.

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