June 26, 2022
Reflections from the Heart of Allan Redenius
Recently, while talking to one of my favorite friends, a woman of intelligence and grace, she told me that things weren’t going so well for her. I asked, “What’s wrong?” She replied, “The doctor has diagnosed me with…. oh, I can’t remember what it’s called. All I know is that the other day I picked up my clothes and I couldn’t find the washing machine.” She laughed and cried at the same time…. I did too.
I was there for her the morning her first husband died. I was there for her the morning her second husband died. Both times, I did not know what to say. So, it was as she told me of her doctor’s diagnosis of dementia. I did not know what to say.
What I’ve learned over the years is that when tragedy befalls upon another, sometimes it is better not to say anything. Just be there to provide a shoulder to cry on.
Words of advice are often meaningless when someone is in the center of the storm. I learned in the book of Job that after Job’s losses in chapter one, his friends came and sat with him for seven days. All was well during those days. Then the friends began giving advice to Job. That’s when the trouble started.
But if you know someone with dementia, be patient, be understanding, know this too. I give this advice from close personal experience of a loved one who suffered from dementia. You, as you walk the walk beside your loved one, watching them grow more distant every day, you actually experience many deaths. First come the mental separations---each day noticing more and more the anxiety and confusion of your loved one. Then, ultimately, the last death---the physical death.
If ever I suffer from memory loss, I know this from Isaiah 46:4. This is my confidence that Jesus will see me through. “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He Who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and rescue you.” I might not remember God’s promises. But I know God will not forget His promise to me.
Laughing with, but mostly crying, as I tell you of my friend…..
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