Thomas A Dorsey, the father of gospel music, was in a revival meeting when word arrived of the death of his wife in childbirth. He rushed home, and two days later his baby died, too. Surrounded by friends, Dorsey looked toward heaven and cried out to God. The words of the now famous song Precious Lord take my hand rolled from his lips as he spoke to his heavenly Father.
His words and the subsequent tune became a beloved hymn that has been recorded by many artists. Martin Luther King requested it sung at the evening service in Memphis on the day of his assassination. He never made it to the service, but Mahalia Jackson sang it at his funeral.
The sudden loss of a loved one is traumatic. Our foundation is shaken, and our bearings confused as we seek the realization of the situation. I remember as a teenager my mother entered my room to inform me of the death of my cousin in a car accident. I had trouble grasping her words as it was my first experience with the loss of a family member. A few days later, I saw my uncle collapse next to the casket as he said goodbye to his teenage daughter. My father and another uncle had to support him as he exited the funeral home.
The slow loss of our someone through Alzheimer’s disease is so different. Typically, the decline is so gradual it is barely noticeable at first. In fact, some are in denial for months or years before they realize the seriousness of their condition. “Oh, Mom’s just getting older and forgetful,” is a typical reaction.
Then, one day we realize something is seriously wrong. Our difficult journey begins with a doctor visit followed by the years of slow, continuous deterioration. Each story is different, but each month brings new challenges for the caregiver. Some won’t eat or have trouble swallowing. Others wander in the evening requiring locks on doors and vigilant care. Some dementia patients have personality changes for good or bad.
Maybe you are dealing with a parent with delusions like “someone is stealing my stuff” or hallucinations such as, “a little girl comes in my room.” One day we realize we are no longer caring for the person we once knew. But, with love and devotion, we continue the journey.
By the time your loved one doesn’t recognize you, you won’t recognize them either. The slow loss of our beloved is different than the sudden loss, but in both situations, we can receive help from God. Like Thomas Dorsey we can pray, “Precious, Lord, take my hand.”
Precious in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His godly ones. Psalms 116:15 NASB
Copyright © 2018 Ronald Milburn