When Illness Makes a Spouse a Stranger (5-Minute Moving Video)

When Illness Makes a Spouse a Stranger (5-Minute Moving Video)

Michael French has frontotemporal dementia, for which there is no cure or treatment. As his condition deteriorated, his wife, Ruth, had to move him to a nursing home, where she spends most days. This story is so sad, but the truth is that I also found it extremely inspirational… to see this real-life heroine who, despite the grief she initially experienced over the loss of the husband she once knew, has managed to accept the serious curve-ball that life has thrown her way with so much love and acceptance. Also, I think seeing this husband who can no longer really talk or function or interact with his wife is an important wake-up call for those of us with healthy husbands, b”H…Marriage isn’t always easy, but we still have SO MUCH to be grateful for! Special thanks to Kochav Yaakov JewishMOM Sara Greenberg for sending me this powerful video…


  1. nechama dina

    I too saw this video on NY Times online, health section. It provided me w/alot of encouragment. Similary, albeit to a much lesser and different degree, my husband is not the same as he once was and now I am finally accepting this fact: When I see him, what I see now is what I have and probably this is what will be.
    Due to a chronic illness, major surgeries, forced retirement, difficulty reinventing himself, depression, PTSD, he is a changed man. I was often angry at him, “snap out of it”, “get a life”, “go learn, go socialize, do something”! I realized after reading this moving video, that he is NOT davka doing this on purpose; all of the above reasons have taken there toll on him. (Oh, did I also mentioned he is a child of a holocust survivor as well). It is a 24/7 avodah, but changing my perspective is the first “key” to acceptance and will help open up a door to compassion and helpng me to focus on what he still can do. I am grieving for the man I knew and still want; However, it is time to change the script and change our/his goals and look forwad to small daily achievements. This video really helped me begin to set the record straight. I do not know if I can become the amazing “warrior” that this woman is, but for me she is an inspiration. thanks for sharing.

  2. Miriam Leah

    Thank you, Nechama, for stating what I am feeling! My husband also has changed dramatically over the past 6 years and he is only 64. Have courage! Let your love and compassion take over where hurt and disappointment dwells.
    Thank you JewishMom for posting this video. It is an inspiration to all of us who are coping with this type of loss.

    • nechama dina

      Miriam: and thank you for your encouragment, my husband just turned 63. in normal times and if there wasn’t a recession and he was in better health and people were not being laid off left and right, he would still be working, perhaps even to 70 yrs+, who knows; but dwelling on the “if onlys” doesn’t get us anywhere…trying to develop the attitude of gratitude, as women we need to find other women for support and creative and positive activities to deal with the loneliness and pain of what was……..be well

  3. I found this terrifying, because my dear Dad, in his 80s, was recently diagnosed with “mild dementia.”
    He is not doing well at all.
    And I know it doesn’t get better – only worse.
    I am scared.
    The future looks bleak.
    May Hashem help him. He doesn’t deserve this.

  4. Anonymous

    We’ve also been through illness, depression, unemployment, and difficult life choices. Today we are in a better place B”H, and I can see how our marriage and attitude toward life has been changed, for better and worse. I envy this woman for being so in touch with her love for her husband, who can’t give her as he once did. My husband and I felt each other’s pain but didn’t have the strength to help each other at times. I realized I wasn’t one of these amazing women who could unconditionally, selflessly, love and care for a disabled husband and I felt something was missing in me. Now I realize that I’m just human, and when my husband is struck down, I feel the blow too. And I’ve learned to really enjoy every moment of a normal, functioning household.

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