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AD & Making Peace with God
Posted: Wednesday, June 17, 2015 7:10 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4405

Alzheimer's and Making Peace With God

Posted: 06/06/2015 9:37 am EDT Updated: 06/07/2015 5:59 am EDT

Note: This article, written by Daniel C. Potts, MD, FAAN, will appear in the upcoming book, Finding Joy in Alzheimer's: New Hope for Caregivers, by Marie Marley, PhD, and Daniel C. Potts, MD, FAAN.

Those who have a loved one with Alzheimer's may ask themselves, "If there is a God, why would he/she allow my loved one to develop Alzheimer's in the first place? We don't deserve this. Life is so cruel and unfair."

How many of us have heard Alzheimer's caregivers say something like the statement above? How many of us have said this ourselves, or at least thought it? The age-old question, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" is certainly relevant to our present topic.

Trying to answer such a question is beyond the scope of this article. Furthermore, we don't presume to be qualified to do justice to that discussion, but we do know from experience that resentment in general, and against God in particular, can poison one's journey of caregiving. As Malachy McCourt once said, "Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die."

Facing the Herculean challenges of caregiving requires all the strength you can muster, including spiritual strength. It has been our experience that caregivers who develop what we would call "spiritual intentionality" are better able to face these challenges and retain their joy and hope than those who seek to go it alone, fueled by denial, anger and resentment.

It is our belief that such resentment and anger is more often than not directed at God, whether or not this is recognized and acknowledged. This attitude can be exhausting, and can make a caregiver feel all alone to carry the weight of the world.

Spiritual intentionality in caregiving means cultivating the capacity to give meaning to suffering, to see problems and challenges which confront you and your loved one as opportunities for growth, transformation and greater expression of love in the act of caring for another.

This process is just that -- a process -- and is not necessarily intuitive. It is certainly not easy, and takes commitment, but it must begin with letting go, with realizing you are not in control of the circumstances. You can choose how you will respond to them. Will resentment and anger toward God rule the day, or will you feel peace, serenity and love?

It is obvious which would be the healthier of the two options, for both you and the person with Alzheimer's, and the process should be one of both giving and receiving. Those who only give and are not open to receive energy and presence and love from people with Alzheimer's disease often will experience burn out.

You may not be what you would call spiritual or religious. However, the bottom line is that the road will be much smoother, and the capacity to experience joy in relationship with people who have Alzheimer's much greater if you can acknowledge that you need help from God, and that help is available.

Dr. James Houston, Professor of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, BC and a caregiver himself, said in a recent interview:

The pain that is brought into God's presence enriches us for the rest of our lives, but the pain that is borne in self-reliance and in a stoic fashion, repressing all emotion, brings death. In faith, we have the wonderful knowledge that we are never carrying the pain of caregiving on our own.

In our opinion, the question to be asked is not, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" but "How do we and the ones we care for make the most of the present situation, grow in the process and live as joyfully, peacefully and lovingly as possible?"

We assert that to do this you really do have to make peace with God and learn to put away resentment.

Marie Marley is the award-winning author of the uplifting book, Come Back Early Today: A Memoir of Love, Alzheimer's and Joy. Her website contains a wealth of information for Alzheimer's caregivers.

Posted: Wednesday, June 17, 2015 9:10 AM
Joined: 8/8/2014
Posts: 885

Thanks for posting this Llee. It is good "food for thought".
Lane Simonian
Posted: Wednesday, June 17, 2015 10:36 AM
Joined: 12/12/2011
Posts: 4814

I like how the question was rephrased. I think it is what many here have been saying for awhile now. But in the midst of caring for someone with the disease it is easy to forget.

Marie Marley cared for her Romanian partner for many years and has now been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease herself, so she has seen both sides.

Paul Hornback
Posted: Wednesday, June 17, 2015 1:27 PM
Joined: 8/9/2013
Posts: 584

llee, thanks for posting this. I do agree we need to make peace with God as we journey through AD. I am certainly at peace with Him and He in turn gives me peace as well!

Thanks again for posting this article.

God bless, Paul

Posted: Wednesday, June 17, 2015 1:52 PM
Joined: 12/4/2011
Posts: 18727

how about posting this on the caregivers boards?
Posted: Wednesday, June 17, 2015 9:19 PM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4405

Sure. I'd be happy to post on CG boards. I have just been googling about and finding all kinds of good stuff!
Posted: Wednesday, June 17, 2015 10:02 PM
Joined: 12/5/2011
Posts: 795


Thanks for posting this. It is great food for thought!

Personally, my spiritual link to God has helped me a great deal during my journey living with and accepting YOAD.

I have a good life but a very different life than I might have had.

Peace and Hope,


Posted: Thursday, June 18, 2015 7:53 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4405


I've been mad at God before and I felt horrible! I've made my peace.Instead of why me? Why not me? Who am I to be immune from suffering when there is suffering all around me? Ego and self centeredness can be destructive.

Posted: Thursday, June 18, 2015 11:26 AM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3556

llee08032 wrote:

I've been mad at God before and I felt horrible! I've made my peace.Instead of why me? Why not me? Who am I to be immune from suffering when there is suffering all around me? Ego and self centeredness can be destructive.

Llee - thanks for this. Why not me? It is weird we all seem surprised when our number comes up, no one escapes death and illness makes way for the young.

The tragedy for me is that some people try to do this alone, get overwhelmed, refuse or are unable to learn how to communicate with dementia patients, and believe this is the "worst illness ever" based on the fallacy that we disappear when we can not get through to those around us any longer.

One could put this as making their peace with having an expiration date. It takes a lot of learning to get the hang of living with dementia but I think we do learn how to accommodate our losses if given a chance.

thanks again ... love how we help each other.