In my small experience with loss, the first year is the worst -- all the milestones -- a year ago we were doing this or that -- and anniversaries. It is a little different losing a person who had dementia, you've been 'losing' them all along, but the finale is so very, well, Final. I feel a bit changed by her years in memory care, then death, kind of tempered -- stronger I hope, not harder. And it is a strange not having parents anymore. The child in me feels unattended, a little uncared for. The adult in me does not feel ready to shoulder the mantle of being the Senior Generation. I can't be a Matriarch (or Aunt-riarch)! I don't know anything, I'm just a kid!
The last time I saw my Mom was about 6 weeks before she died. During that visit, I went with her to get her hair done. Very often with dementia suffers, if they don't understand what is being asked of them, they'll just answer no. Do you want to go for a walk? Do you want to eat lunch? Do you want to have a bath? Do you want to get your hair done? Saying "no" is easier than trying to understand the question in their plaque-addled brains. My Mom's hair, permed & set all her life, had become long & straight because her permanent had grown out, the only 'do' she had was what the aides did after they gave her her shower. So we went together down the hall to the beauty/barber shop where she got a wash, trim & set. She looked nice. Then I did something I had not done in her 3 years in the nursing home: I snapped a photo of her. She looked directly at my camera with this heartbreakingly clear, blank, bleak expression. I love this picture, can still see a glimpse of my Mom there. Then a new filter app that let me turn this photo into a 'watercolor; it took a bit of the edge off the original, making it even more beautiful to me.