For richer, for poorer – coping with incurable illnesses


Both my husband and I were there for our son during his long fight against schizophrenia and did whatever we could after his diagnosis knocked us flat and changed so many lives forever.

 Our other children did without – without enough time and energy from us, without vacations and parties at home, without frills and extras as every available cent was poured into another prescription, another treatment, another psychiatrist. My husband and I did without too. We minded less. We tried private psychiatrists, turned to friends and family for support. Although we knew that our son was ill with an invisible illness, to most of the world, he was simply crazy and therefore not deserving of much attention.

For 16 long years, we did all we could to help him and I have written about all this in my blogs.


When my late husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the  most important thing for me was not only to help him, but to spend as much quality time together while we still could … before the illness ravaged his brain. He’d been a rock for me and for our daughters, giving us all unconditional love. I decided to try and remain in the vicinity. There are partners, wives or husbands who drift away as they do not know how to deal with such a tremendous undertaking but give and take has always been a large part of our marriage and the unwritten rule we followed was, to be there for one another.

I made sure not to crowd him and I had to allow time for myself as I had varied interests that kept me going. It would have been so easy to slip into a depression, but I knew that I had only two choices – depression which would have been oh so easy, but that would not have helped either my husband, my daughters nor myself in the long run. So, the other choice open to me was to cope. So I learned to remain positive; on the outside anyway. This was not easy.

 I had seen many weddings on television where the couple took the marriage vows ‘until death do us part,’ promising to remain together always. That was when I had to confront the very real possibility that my husband’s life might be cut short due to his illness. But, there was no point in my worrying about that prematurely. The idea that I had lost him to Alzheimer’s was always with me, but death? No. And that was my attitude.

I did not have to be present physically every moment of the day but my late husband always knew where to find me. He only had one telephone number on his old, mobile phone and it was mine. I stuck the number onto the outside as he no longer remembered how to find in the usual way.

To summarize … I realized that I only had one life to live, so I could either be miserable, or find the rays of sunshine that came creeping through … and canstock11875045I did.


4 thoughts on “For richer, for poorer – coping with incurable illnesses

  1. Dr Peter Lim

    Dear Jill-what a poignant story.
    Love often involves pain–we are only too human.
    One out of 5 Aussies is expected to have depression/anxiety…a universal problem these days.
    Acceptance is the greatest wisdom but requires utmost courage.
    I am neither a medic, nor psychologist/psychiatrist but have read on these subjects for over 40 years.
    I hope you will have happier days.
    Peter from Melb

  2. Pingback: The Grief Associated with Incurable Illness – For richer, for poorer – coping with incurable illnesses | Jill’s Experiences with Mental Health and Alzheimer’s Disease | Loss, Grief, Transitions and Relationship Support

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