Dad was falling often and more frequently. Even though he had a walker, he didn’t use it. (We’re not sure if it was forgetfulness or stubbornness—or both.) Last New Year’s day, Dad fell getting out of bed, and Mom couldn’t help him up. After a stay in the hospital, he was moved to a nursing home; and then we agreed he would not be returning home. He needed too much care. We couldn’t expect our mom to be a good caregiver when she was becoming more and more forgetful herself.
Over the next few months Mom kept trying to pack up Dad’s stuff and bring him home. She was becoming both irrational and emotional. Due to her behavior, Dad became even more confused and depressed. We finally convinced Mom to be tested. Our suspicions were confirmed—Mom had Alzheimer’s.
Dad died last November, just days before his 89th birthday. During the months preceding that, we took away Mom’s checking account. (She was writing a check to every charity that sent her a request—and she was receiving scores of them. Her account was overdrawn and the fees were piling up.) And then her driver’s license was taken away. A neighbor in her retirement village caught her driving—and none too well—after her license was taken away, so we disabled and then removed the car.
In December, my youngest sister took in Mom. But after 10 months, Mom was moved into an assisted living facility. Her care required too much of my sister.
Watching parents decline is heart-rending. It was painful to watch my dad, who was a hardy outdoorsman, lose more and more of his physical abilities—and then take his final shallow breath. And it’s heartbreaking to watch my mother, who was “sharp as a tack,” loose her spark and fade into forgetfulness and confusion.
I know it’s inevitable. “Who can live and not see death, or who can escape the power of the grave?” (Psalm 89:48). But I hate it—and it wasn’t meant to be. Thanks to Jesus’ death and resurrection, the dead in Christ will be resurrected and death, “the last enemy,” will one day be destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:20-26).
Until that day, we press on in the strength that only God can provide (Psalm 28:7). And we take comfort from others in the community of faith who have walked through grief before us.
To learn about helping others deal with grief, tune into our upcoming Webinar, Shepherding Others Through Loss, on November 6, 2013, at 2 p.m. EST.