Grief counselor Cathy Babao bats for early awareness of disease
MANILA -- A long goodbye.
Cathy Babao, daughter of veteran actress Caridad Sanchez, waxes over this feeling after her recent revelation on social media that the beloved movie icon is going through dementia.
Sanchez, who turned 87 last August, was first diagnosed in late 2015, according to Babao.
“She remains physically strong. There are good and bad days pero paulit-ulit siya,” she related to ABS-CBN News Friday, citing the pattern of forgetting and repeating herself.
Anticipatory grief is how Babao calls her current emotion. “It’s a long goodbye. Overtime, you slowly lose the person. You just prepare for it. ”
The irony is not lost on Babao, an eminent grief counselor and educator, who transformed the loss of her 4-year-old son Migi in 1998 to heart disease into a lifelong service of easing the pain of other people who lost their loved ones.
Babao has had her own realization -- more than the fear and ignorance of other people on the issue, the moral thing to do she says is to speak about it to provide a light for others going through similar pain.
Above all, she cites the importance of rising above the stigma of the disease.
“Why keep it a secret? Hindi naman nakakahiya if we can help others with their journey. I know there are other families going through it but who don’t speak about it. Kaya nga dapat may early detection, awareness and acceptance, so we can arm ourselves with the right information and access to right medicines and care. I believe my mom will be happy too knowing she was somehow able to help,” she said.
The stream of comments and reactions to her revelation has been overwhelming. “Both heartbreaking and heartwarming," she told us. “It took me a long time to write about it considering the stature of my mom but now that it’s been public, it has been liberating!”
Babao had previously posted this on Instagram to acknowledge and honor her feelings.
“Shortly after her diagnosis, I picked up the book, 'Still Alice' by Lisa Genova in an attempt to better understand what was to come. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I read the last few paragraphs.
"You’re so beautiful,' said Alice. 'I’m afraid of looking at you and not knowing who you are.'
“I think that even if you don’t know who I am someday, you’ll still know that I love you.
“What if I see you, and I don’t know that you’re my daughter, and I don’t know that you love me?
“Then, I’ll tell you that I do, and you’ll believe me.
“And this, is why I write.”
“Today I was thinking how when my dad suddenly died at age 49 from a heart attack, I didn’t get to have the chance to say goodbye.
“To say all the things I wanted to tell him, to tell him what a great dad he was, and how grateful I was for everything that he had taught me and done for me. I’ve done that countless times through the years through my writing, in my head, and in prayer.
“So now, perhaps, the Father is giving me this chance for a long goodbye with my mom. To say all the things I need to say, to care for her, and to love her. That thought somehow comforted me. Because throughout this long goodbye, though the time may come that she will no longer remember me, I hope she will continue to feel the care and the love. After all, the heart always knows, and never forgets.”
Babao continues to document her mother’s journey in #caringchronicles #thelonggoodbye. With October declared as National Mental Health Month, she continues work from home conducting webinars on grief coaching and counseling. She also hosts her own YouTube show on Fridays, “Conversations with Cathy.”
Hopefully her long goodbye to Caridad Sanchez will be filled with unforgettable memories between mother and daughter.