Get a Grip

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“I just snapped!” I heard a lady exclaim as she described her reaction to her father’s behavior.  He has vascular dementia. “I don’t know why.  I just lost my temper and yelled at him.”

His behavior was not more abnormal than any other time.  For several years the daughter watched the father of her youth slip away from her mentally.  She thought she had come to grips with it.  But for some unknown reason, she reacted angrily toward him on that day.

“Why?” she questioned.

She was not his full-time caregiver, yet she was the one her mother called most often when she needed help.  It was rarely scheduled and often quite inconvenient since she had a job that required her to often travel.  Adding to her frustration, her siblings are seldom called when her mother needs help.

One day the seemingly minor incident was the “straw that broke the camel’s back.”  Imagine a camel carrying bundles of straw.  Each represents a load this lady is carrying.  There was a large and heavy one that contained her job.  There was the weight of financial stress of her son’s college education.  Another was the relationship with her mother and siblings who seemed to rely on her too much.  On the day she lost her temper there was just one straw added to the load, and it was too much.  That’s when she snapped.

The burden of caring for a dementia-impaired loved-one is constant, but at times other stresses “pile on” causing us to react in a way we wouldn’t normally.  Everyone is different, so various stress-relieving techniques work for different people.  One method commonly used is having a quiet time with God each day.  Reading the Bible and praying helps most people.

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. [Refrain]

Quiet time with God may even-out your feelings so you “snap” less often.  Reading your Bible and praying has a calming effect and helps reduce stress.  It feels good to share your load with Christ.


John Wesley said, “God does nothing but by prayer, and everything with it.”  Pray for your loved one with dementia, and for yourself.  Ask God to help you through the stresses you are experiencing.

Copyright 2018 Ronald Milburn