Hellish Road to Eternity

What a title! What does it mean? It is the road traveled by so many dear people who have dementia. “Doctors use the word dementia in a specific way. It means a loss or impairment of mental powers. It comes from two Latin words, which mean away and mind. Dementia does not mean crazy. It has been chosen by the medical profession as the least offensive and most accurate term to describe a group of illnesses. Dementia describes a group of symptoms and is not the name of a disease or diseases that cause the symptoms.*”

Dementia takes its victims from the pages of reality into a world that makes no sense. There is no reasoning, no understanding, no talking to a person in the late stages of dementia. The above quote is taken from a book with another telling and so appropriate title: The 36-Hour Day. As a caregiver, you wake up not wanting to face another day and you fall into bed exhausted with the weight of care, the stress of concern, and the tangle of emotions that have driven this day’s activities.

It is truly hellish. It is torturous. It is heartbreaking, and there are no easy answers. A dear friend asked my husband, “How can I help Wanda?” How can anyone walk this road for another? They can’t; HOWEVER, they can pray, and they do. I wonder if part of heaven will be seeing those prayers and the amazing effect they had on our lives.

We all die. Not all of us will walk the hellish road of dementia, but many of us will and it’s a very frightening thought. To lose all sense of understanding, to become a different, mean, unreasonable person, to not be able to speak the words you want to say—it is truly horrible. It is the most heartbreaking of all that we face as caregivers.

For my mom, a true believer, there awaits a beautiful, perfect world for her—a place of normal—no, better than normal. Heaven will release her from this bondage. She will be set free, and I pray for God’s mercy to call her home soon. That prayer may seem selfish or cruel, but it is truly out of a heart that has been crushed so completely that I have nothing left.

“I come broken to be mended,
I come wounded to be healed.
I come desperate to be rescued,
I come empty to be filled.
I come guilty to be pardoned
By the blood of Christ, the Lamb,
And I’m welcomed, with open arms,
Praise God, just as I am.”


That has been my theme song. It expresses my heart and puts a light at the end of this very dark tunnel. Oh, where would we be without hope?! I can’t imagine facing this road without the assurance that “there is a sweet place of quiet rest near to the heart of God.” To reject God’s salvation through His only dear Son, Jesus, and the incredible price He paid on the cross to set us free is truly unthinkable!

It is so simple, Jesus died for our sins. Believe it. Repent and receive salvation.” Tis truly as simple as can be.”  At the end of John 3, some of John the Baptist’s disciples came to him because so many people were following Jesus. He makes this wonderful statement in verse 30: He must increase, but I must decrease. (A good mantra for us all!) And then the chapter closes with these words of caution:

He who believes on the Son has everlasting life,
and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life,
but the wrath of God abides upon him.

John 3:30

I close with a wonderful quote that has helped me so many times throughout my life, which my dear mother would often say, “How do people go through these things without the Lord.”

*Nancy L. MacePeter V. Rabins, The 36-Hour Day (Baltimore: John Hopkins, 1981) p.6.

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