Hope for the Unknown

“Mom, what’s so funny?” I asked as she walked down the hallway to rejoin us. Having exited the bathroom, I anticipated a variety of funny scenarios.

“I’m wearing two pairs of pants! Isn’t that silly?” Her laughter was contagious and I joined in, but all the while thinking, This isn’t funny.

I caught my sister’s eye. Our laughter couldn’t mask our deep concern and growing suspicions.

When Mom began forgetting to take her medicine, we thought it was just old age settling in. When she got lost driving home on a familiar road, we excused it as too dark to see the road signs clearly.

But the day she wore two pair of pants we couldn’t find an excuse. It was something more than silly.

How can someone put on a second pair of pants and not realize it?

The answer to that question wasn’t funny at all. It’s called Alzheimer’s.

A myriad of questions ran through my mind. What caused this? What can be done to stop it?
How long before she doesn’t remember me?

The unknown answer to that last question haunted me. I begged God to be merciful and allow Mom to always remember me. Her condition was the focus of many prayers. Her physical health was in steady decline. Diabetes had left her legally blind and with unpredictable blood sugar levels extremely hard to regulate. Mini strokes required hospital stays, weakening her ability to care for herself. Growing more forgetful and confused necessitated 24 hour care.

I pleaded with God to take her home before she had to experience her biggest fear – a nursing home.

Although my mother was a woman of faith, sometimes anxiety got the best of her. I inherited that tendency. I was anxious about her health and fearful she would forget me.

One day while crying out in prayer, I felt God answer in a surprising way. Forming as thoughts in my mind, I felt as if God said, “You’re praying like you have Alzheimer’s… spiritual Alzheimers.

This realization hit me hard. I had been praying like I’d forgotten all God had done for our family in the past. Reminders of his faithfulness flooded my mind.

I recalled:

…unexpected monetary gifts to match a need
…return of a wayward child
…protection of my in-laws attacked in their home
…depression lifting after months of suffering

…broken relationships restored
…comfort when loved ones died
…emotional and physical healing
…guidance in parenting

As the list grew in my mind so did my resolve to trust God. Recalling his faithfulness infused me with hope.

Alzheimer’s was definitely a journey into the unknown. As I began to trust God, I no longer worried about my mom forgetting me. I found peace despite the temptation to be anxious. Fresh hope even found joy as we walked together into the unknown.

©2017 Cindy Richardson for GateWay of Hope

Cindy Richardson seeks to encourage, challenge and inspire women in their journey of hope through Bible studies, speaking and writing. Cindy weaves God’s truth and shares her faith with kindergartners at St. Joseph Christian School.

Residing in St. Joseph, Missouri with her husband, Tom, she enjoys the friendship of her three grown daughters and loves being Nana to six grandchildren.
For more inspiration, visit cindyrichardson.org.

Spiritual Alzheimer’s

She came down the hall laughing. She had just come from the bathroom and so I prepared myself for any number of funny scenarios.Cindy Richardson

“Mom, what is so funny?”

“I’m wearing two pair of pants! Isn’t that silly?” She continued laughing and I joined in.

But I was thinking, How do you put on a second pair of pants and not realize it?

The answer to that question wasn’t funny at all. It’s called dementia.

When my mom began forgetting to take her medicine we thought it just old age settling in. When she got lost driving home on a familiar road, we thought she was tired and it was too dark to see the road signs. But the day she put on two pair of pants we knew it was more than something silly.

A myriad of thoughts runs through your mind when someone you love has dementia. What caused this? What can be done to stop it? How long before she doesn’t remember me?

The answer to that last question haunted me. I begged the Lord to be merciful and allow her to remember me. Her condition was the topic of many prayers.

Not only was her mind failing but her physical health declined as well. As a 40-year diabetic, she was legally blind. Unpredictable blood sugar levels were extremely hard to regulate. She struggled with anxiety. A few mini-strokes required hospital stays and I pleaded with God to take her home to heaven before she had to live in a nursing home which was her biggest fear.

Although my mom was a woman of faith, she sometimes let anxiety get the best of her. I inherited that tendency. I was anxious about her health and her care.

One day, while crying out in prayer, I felt the Lord answer in a surprising way, You’re praying as if you have Alzheimer’s, spiritual Alzheimer’s!

The realization hit me hard. He reminded me of His faithfulness to answer many prayers: provision when my husband lost his job, broken relationships restored, hope renewed.

I didn’t have to fear that my mother might forget me. I just had to put into practice Philippians 4:6, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”

Through prayer, I was able to be at peace with my mother’s dementia. Although no longer able to recognize her surroundings, my mother never forgot me.

I am determined to never forget the faithfulness of God.

©2015 Cindy Richardson

11 Tips for Dealing with Holiday Grief

The lyrics from a Christmas song suggest that this is the most wonderful time of the year. Yet for women who are grieving, the holidays represent fresh sorrow.Christmas ornament

How do we survive the holiday season when everyone else acts like cheerful elves while all we want to do is curl up in the fetal position and forget?

Perhaps some of these tips will help:

Express Your Feelings. It’s okay to grieve, even during Christmas. Others may not understand but you are not responsible for how they feel. You are only responsible for yourself and your own reactions. Allow yourself time to grieve.

Be With People You Enjoy. Although it’s okay to grieve, it’s also important not to isolate yourself too long. Surround yourself with a support group that will encourage you and help you through the grief.

Embrace the Memories. Hanging ornaments on the tree often brings back special memories. Make that special holiday food or play that favorite Christmas song. Remember the good times.

Re-examine Your Priorities. You don’t have to do everything you once did to make the holidays special. Eliminate any unnecessary stress. Set realistic expectations. Simplify.

Take Care of Yourself. It’s easy to eat too much of the wrong foods, drink too much and miss out on rest. Especially during the holidays and especially while you are grieving, take care of yourself.

Exercise. This tip follows with taking care of yourself. A brisk walk in the cool air will clear your head, boost your endorphins and help you deal with holiday stress.

Remember, it’s just one day. Soon, the holidays will be over and you will launch into a new year. This difficult season will be past. Keep looking forward, keep trusting God and think about tomorrow.

Do What Feels Comfortable. Set your own boundaries. You don’t have to meet everyone’s expectations, and you don’t have to be involved in the same activities as before. Do what you want to do.

Create New Traditions. Your world is not the same as before, but you still have the freedom to do whatever you want. Try something new and create a new holiday tradition.

Do Something for Others. One of the best ways to get beyond our own grief is to consider the needs of others. Visit a nursing home. Make a treat for your neighbors. Go caroling at a hospital. Get beyond yourself and offer hope to someone else.

Consider Counseling. If you’re feeling as if you can’t cope, consider counseling. Take care of yourself by doing whatever is necessary to make it through the holidays and move forward with hope.

What about you? How do you best cope with holiday grief?

2013 GateWay of Hope – The Helping Place for Hurting Women