I have been thinking about this situation, and have decided to hijack the thread a little. Please lend me your pardon.
For starters, I think I can relate in a very personal way to the feeling of having not heard one's spouse when they were pleading for your understanding, and by so doing, having caused damage that can never be fixed.
You see, I started rebelling against everything just at the time when my wife was starting to get Alzheimer's. So while she was clinging to the old and familiar, I was chafing to get out of that old box.
The situation was complicated. Her kids had "put the whammy" on me for "causing" or at least "deserving" this Alzheimer's situation. So with the long, ugly history that already existed with her kids, she and I both went into denial about her disease and I, in my warped way, fancied that it would somehow be her fault if she somehow got the disease.
So she did get the disease, right when I was trying to rebel against everything in life, and I found myself getting angry at her. Angrier and angrier. So when she was missing the simple love that she and I had once shared, I was pulling away from her.
I'll skip all the horrible details and just say it was pretty horrible. Well, in time, I stopped being quite so angry and bitter at the whole world, and started to finally appreciate my wife again, and reminisce myself about all the good times we had shared.
Unfortunately, by that time, she was too far down the road of Alzheimer's to really understand what was happening. And she was located in a nursing home far away, I only saw her once a month, and only talked to her once a week by phone.
We shared some warmth over the phone, and during those infrequent visits, and soon she was just gone. Today she lives in a nursing home much closer and I see her every week, but she doesn't know that I'm there, not by any visible indications. She's now locked in a state of forever waiting for me, and she doesn't even know what she's waiting for.
Now, I came out like a king, because as she was slipping away, I was developing the poly V in which I bask today. But while I am busily basking, I am also feeling terribly sad and guilty, and wishing I could reach back into the past and find my wife there, apologize to her, and let her know that I'm here now, even though I wasn't there for her then.
The point of this very long story made relatively short, is that I feel you may have the chance here that I lost forever. Matt is hurting deep inside, but he still has all his faculties, and he is still reachable. You can still let him know that you're sorry, and that you're there for him now. The message won't sink in quickly at all, but I have this hope that it can sink in. You don't have to suffer the tragedy that my wife and I suffered. You can slowly pull out of this tailspin, healing can occur, and you can get back that closeness that you once had.
Such is my fancy, anyway. I can't give you a 100% guarantee that things will work out. Maybe the hurt is too deep. Maybe Matt won't recover. But I feel that maybe, just maybe, you might have the chance that I tossed away until it was eternally too late.
Don't give up. Keep coming back with that tenderness, even if he keeps clenching up. You certainly have a sad story to tell, but I am sooo hoping that this one has a happy ending.
Love means never having to say, "Put down that meat cleaver!"