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, recorded by many artists. Martin Luther King requested it 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. It shakes our foundation as we try to grasp 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 Alzheimer’s disease is so different. Often, the decline is so gradual it’s not noticed at first. Friends and family may be 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.
In time, we realize something is 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, such as people who won’t eat or have trouble swallowing. Others wander in the evening requiring locks on doors and vigilant care. Other dementia patients have personality changes.
Are you are dealing with a parent with delusions such as “thieves are stealing my stuff” or hallucinations such as, “a little girl comes in my room?” Then, 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 know them either. The slow loss of our beloved differs from sudden death, but in both situations, we can receive help from God. As Thomas Dorsey prayed, we can ask, “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