Get a Grip

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“I just snapped.”

Sympathetically, I listened to a lady exclaiming her overheated reaction to her father, who has vascular dementia.

“I don’t know why, but I lost my temper and yelled at him.”

His behavior wasn’t more abnormal than usual, but she reacted with anger. For several years, the daughter watched her father’s mind deteriorate. She thought she’d come to grips with it, but she hadn’t.

“Why?” she questioned.

She’s not her dad’s full-time caregiver, yet she is the child who her mother calls most often for help. Since her mother never schedules her requests, they are often at inconvenient times. The daughter travels with her work, which makes last-minute pleas challenging. Her mother seldom asks her other children for help, which adds to her frustration.

A recent minor incident is the “straw that broke the camel’s back.” Imagine a camel carrying bundles of straw. Each bale represents a load this lady is toting. Her job is a large, heavy one. There’s the weight of financial stress of her son’s college education. Another is the mother who depends on her while ignoring her siblings. When someone applies one too many burdens, she snaps.

The burden of caring for a dementia-impaired loved-one is constant, and when other stresses “pile on,” it can cause us to act out. Everyone is different, so various stress-relieving techniques work for different people. One method is spending time with God each day. Bible- study and prayer helps most people keep an even keel.

In Matthew 11:28 NASB, Jesus said, “Come to Me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my load is light.”

Cleland Boyd McAfee (1844-1944) wrote these words for his hymn Near to the Heart of God:
1 There is a place of quiet rest,                                        2 There is a place of comfort sweet,
near to the heart of God,                                                       near to the heart of God,
a place where sin cannot molest,                                        a place where we our Savior meet near to the heart of God.                                                       near to the heart of God.

Refrain:
O Jesus, blest Redeemer,                                                    3. There is a place of full release,
sent from the heart of God,                                                   near to the heart of God,
hold us, who wait before thee,                                             a place where all is joy and peace,
near to the heart of God.                                                       near to the heart of God.

Quiet time with the Creator may even-out our feelings so we “snap” less often. Research shows prayer and reading our Bible has a calming effect and helps reduce stress. It feels good to share our load with Christ. I heard once, “Let go, and let God.”

John Wesley said, “God does nothing but by prayer, and everything with it.” We must pray for our loved one with dementia, and for ourselves. Let’s ask our Father to help us through the stresses we are experiencing.

Copyright 2018 Ronald Milburn