Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Neville Wran dies of dementia, age 87. Funeral on May 1.

Neville Wran died on April 20, at the age of 87. He was the Premier of NSW from 1976 and 1986. Tomorrow, on May 1, Mr Wran will be given a state funeral, to be held at Sydney Town Hall.

Mr Wran suffered from dementia and had been under special care for the past two years.

His wife Jill Hickson said: “This is of course a very sad time for us all but in fact a blessed release for Neville­."

I understand these words - though not to their full extent yet - because many people I have interviewed who have lost loved ones to dementia express a sense of relief their relative is now at peace, and not being 'ravaged' at the hands of this cruel disease.

Also, I am surprised to learn that people who have had no experience at all with dementia are not aware people can actually die of dementia. I should not be that surprised though - I was one of these people. Until my mother was diagnosed with dementia, I had no idea it is a degenerative disease which eventually leads to death.

"Dementia is a cruel fate and I have been grieving the loss that comes with it for some years," continued Jill Wran.

If you have a relative with dementia you have probably heard of the term associated with it: "the long goodbye."

It is indeed a long farewell, and long period of mourning, if you will. The carer is grieving the 'loss' of that person you knew for a very long time. Sometimes, you don't even realise you have done this, or are continually doing this, until your loved one with dementia displays behaviours inconsistent with who they were, and you know they'd be mortified - if they were of sound mind - to know what they are doing.

Continued Jill Wran: "But I hope now, especially in this political climate, people will join me in celebrating­ the life of a great man, a true political hero."

RIP, Neville Wran. Here's to being remembered as the man you were in the prime of your life.

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