Saturday, March 21, 2015

Comfort for a Sad Day

Perseveration is sometimes a behavioral manifestation of those who have suffered brain damage. The term means simply that the patient repeats a certain action or behavior over and over and over again.
This morning I picked up my mother's journal to find three pages of entries like the ones above, an example of perseveration; here is visible evidence that her poor mind has been compromised by the hateful effects of Alzheimer's. For some reason this outward symptom of her dementia upset me terribly. The proverbial straw, I guess. 

I cried out to the Lord, weeping:
Lord, You know what portion of my tears are selfish; what will I do without my mother?  
You know what portion of my tears consist of terrible empathy for my sweet mom who is lost in a confusion she did not choose and cannot help, a victim of the brain damage caused by Alzheimer plaques and tangles. I dread the increased suffering she may have to endure.

And You know what portion of my tears come from worry that the same thing might happen to me.  
I had lapsed to fear not only of Mom's death, but of the struggle we may have to undergo on her way to that final passage. So I turned to the road map the Lord was gracious to provide us near the beginning of my mother's battle with Alzheimer's.  Over a series of months I recorded His guidance into a manuscript that became My Mom Has Alzheimer's: Inspiration and Help for Caregivers (Bridge-Logos, 2009). Here are quotes from the book that have helped me today:
The Lord... is sovereign over death. His good and perfect will encompasses every life event, even those that cause us pain. He is able to work every circumstance into conformity with His will, for our good (p. 247).
 Jesus Christ has conquered death. His purpose in coming was to deliver me and to set me completely free. He is trustworthy and He is in control. I pray for grace and the will to look steadfastly at Him so that I will not be afraid (p. 250).
Our physical bodies are like the alabaster vase that held the nard Mary poured upon the feet of Jesus. The vase was broken to release the perfume. Each of us is headed toward an appointment with physical brokenness because no one escapes physical death. Sometimes the process of death is painful and for just a little while, we are preoccupied with the breaking of the container, but then the fragrance of Christ flows forth as the spirit is released (p. 255). 
And what wonderful comfort from Scripture: 
“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them” (Isaiah 42:16 NIV).

“And you saw how the Lord your God cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child. Now he has brought you to this place” (Deuteronomy 1:31, NLT).

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3 NIV).
I don't feel happy right now, but I am calm.  I don't like feeling sorrow, but I am assured of the Lord's comfort. I'm tired but I am confident the Lord will provide me strength. 

As I write these words, Mom is comfortably tucked into bed, sleeping soundly. She is doing ok right now, and because of God's grace and guidance, so am I. 


  1. It's hard for me to imagine how deep your pain must go since I have never faced watching a loved one suffer from Alzheimer. My father passed away 8 years ago from Leukemia but by the time we got the diagnosis it was a matter of a few months and he was gone to be with Jesus. I experienced God's grace is an unbelievable way during his final days. I love your last sentence, Linda, because it displays your trust in God and His love for you!

    1. Oh Georgene, a rapid decline is in some ways more difficult than the long goodbye of Alzheimer's. Thanks be to our God for His provision and grace, for the love that covers and protects us in all the circumstances He allows. Hugs and prayers to you, my friend.

  2. He leadeth me...He leadeth His own dear hand He leadeth me... The comforts you have shared are beautiful. I am always comforted knowing that we are never going to be led where He has not been nor where He is not now. (Looking at that page brought a tear to my eye. What remarkable resilience.)

    1. Vee, thank you. It takes a special person to read through the account of our trials and offer encouragement and prayers. Your kind words mean more than you know.

  3. I understand every word you've written. This is a hard road, but you are sharing your heart beautifully.

  4. Thanks so much for the blessing of this comment.