Understanding Dementia- Lenten Sacrifice

Written on: February 25, 2021

Lent is about preparing our hearts through sacrifice. In a parallel world, loving someone with dementia is often a time of preparing our hearts for loss, while sacrificing each day with as much compassion, patience and grace as we can find.

Over the past few years of caring for my mom, I have felt unconnected to the spiritual practices of Lent, and wondered why.

What finally brought me comfort was thinking about the cycle Mom and I are in as a protracted Lent. So many things have been given up; so many things have been sacrificed; so much soul-searching has gone on. My reality is such that I wonder, “How could I possibly do something more during the Lenten Season?”

Through prayer, I find myself turning in a new way toward Mary. Despite my pain/frustration/sorrow, I realized that I am not alone; we are not alone. Mary lived compassion, patience, and ultimately, the greatest sacrifice. She lived Lent from the time her Son set off on his journey. She watched and waited and prepared her heart, not knowing what was going to happen, but that something big was coming.

I can’t imagine that it turned out in any way close to what Mary had imagined – but, she’s a much better person than I, so she probably didn’t put expectations out there for God to laugh at. Maybe this is where the lesson is: don’t try to envision the end since the journey has surely been different than anything you could have imagined.

As you journey with someone who has dementia, be open to whatever mystery unfolds for you in the process. And, remember to turn to Mary for wisdom in bearing the unbearable.

During this Lent, I am told that in person visiting where Mom is, may re-open sometime soon (I guess if all the stars line up properly). I’m keeping my expectations low, and just hoping that my ideas and God’s are at least somewhat similar on this one little thing.

Maybe next Lent, I’ll learn to be more open and accepting. Like Mary.


Submitted by: Maryellen Glackin


One thought on “Understanding Dementia- Lenten Sacrifice

  1. Norma Philipps says:

    My partner and I saw her mother through all the stages of dementia, and mother has now died. As a way to be kind to ourselves and kind to mother, we developed an oft-repeated mantra (like a prayer)–“make mother right, make mother right.” So how this was played out was that we no longer engaged in useless attempts to correct mother–we just just agreed with everything she said and did–as long as we kept her safe. I assert that it made being with her the experience of being in the Presence of God. Not always easy–but deeply blessed!

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