Blogs About Mom

Even Dementia Must Be Politically Correct, Apparently

francey jesson the jesson press dementia

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I try very hard to avoid controversy on my social media platforms. I long ago began to check myself from wading into the weeds of political or social commentary—especially on Facebook, where I once had to block, unfriend, or mute people who just could not have a civil debate to save their lives. And those were all real friends or family. People I actually knew on a non-cyber level.

That being said, I never expected to find myself on the business end of a thinly-veiled offensive by a complete stranger on Twitter about one word I use in my pinned Tweet. I use the word “suffering.”

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Someone I’ve never heard of, who I am not following on Twitter, nor who is following me, who knows nothing about me or Mom or our situation, went slightly apeshit because I used THAT word.


Disclaimer – This Will Be A Rant With Adult Words

Oh for fuck’s sake. “Just expect to be challenged if you keep using the S word.” The “S” word? Suffering is now a dirty word? When did that happen? And who does this complete stranger think she is to go jumping all over my shit? I doubt she even read one word of my blog, which if she had, she might understand why, from where I sit, Mom is suffering from dementia. It took all my effort to not tell her to go fuck herself.


Ok. I got that out of my system. Now to the technical part of this blog, and my own education. Being the word nerd that I am, I had to find the dictionary definition for the English word suffer. Maybe that would shed some light on to why some people apparently DESPISE that word. And of course, I also needed to look up the idiom “living with” to see how the two contrast in the lexicon. Turns out, not much contrast at all etymologically speaking.

According to the online MacMillan dictionary, to “live with something” means, “to accept something unpleasant that you cannot change.” And according to Merriam-Webster, one definition of suffer is, “to put up with especially as inevitable or unavoidable.”

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Call me crazy, but I don’t see much contrast in definition. So maybe, I thought, it’s the first of Merriam-Webster’s definitions of suffer that puts them into a tailspin, “to submit to or be forced to endure.” Is it the word endure? Sounds ominous, doesn’t it? Ok. What does endure mean?

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To remain firm…without yielding. To undergo…without giving in. Endurance is strength. Enduring while suffering is to accept something you cannot change. Ergo ipso facto, suffering and living with are two ways to describe the same act of courage.

But it’s the second of the dictionary definitions of the word suffer that I mean when I’m talking about Mom, “to feel keenly: labor under.” Mom feels keenly what is happening to her, but she can’t understand it, and that lack of understanding just makes it all the worse. Yesterday morning, she told me she was struggling to remember the name of her third great-granddaughter. She’d lain in bed for what seemed to her like hours not being able to conjure up the name. When I told her the name she said with frustration, “What’s wrong with me!?” She feels it keenly. She is suffering.

To offend anyone is never my intent. I only blog about Mom, no one else.

8 comments on “Even Dementia Must Be Politically Correct, Apparently

  1. Robert Pineda Jr

    Just keep being you and continue to live your truth. People get to hung up with ego and their pain bodies.

  2. the criticism was unfounded, and the debate was unneceessary. your language is sufficiently precise to accurately convey your mother’s experience. indeed, i am sympathetic to your mother’s suffering. i, too, will not be held hostage to PC culture.

  3. As a fellow word person who knows how important word choice is to a good writer, I am astounded that someone with any familiarity with dementia (as your critic claims) would denigrate your use of the word ‘suffer’ in the context of a person with dementia. I also write a blog about dementia sufferers in my life and I chose the word ‘sufferer’ deliberately. All persons with dementia, regardless of its source, suffer as do their caregivers. Keep on writing and making the rest of us aware that there are people out there who will argue about anything.

  4. Craig Shouldice

    Dementia patients suffer from frustration, anger, paranoia. As the disease progresses, they start to lose some of that, but before then, they know that things are slipping away. They live with fear and loss every day. If that isn’t suffering, I shall retire to Bedlam.

    • Francey Jesson

      Thank you for this. This is still such a sore subject for me, and although I have never had any intentions to offend anyone, after this event, I am more conscious that I might offend. But I still don’t try to sugar coat it either. Whenever I see a comment come thru on this post for me to monitor, until I’ve read it, there’s a part of me that says, “Ok. Is this going to be an ass kicking or an affirmation?” Thank you for the affirmation. Peace.

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