While praying to God for help and solace, it struck me that there may be a different way to think about Alzheimer's. When Miriam's mind seems distant, the "person" I used to know is not really gone, but just gone from me, at those moments.
He was killing himself and he knew it, slowly, inexorably, intentionally, consuming vast quantities of alcohol and prescription drugs, indifferent to his failing health, to the pleas of his wife and children, colleagues and friends, siblings, aging parents, rabbi.
The painful truth is that we cannot always help another person - and if we expect to be able to change someone else in order for us to feel better, we may be setting ourselves up for double failure. What we can do is help ourselves by understanding our own feelings of powerlessness and getting the support we need to manage our emotional response.
The Eternal One spoke to Moses, saying, "Phinehas, son of Eleazar son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the Israelites by displaying among them his passion for Me, so that I did not wipe out the Israelite people in My passion." - Numbers 25:10-11