Losing Them Before They’re Gone

by Kathy Howard

My mother was witty, fun, and smart. She danced in the kitchen, talked her way out of every traffic ticket, and ran her own business. She read constantly, created intricate cross-stitched pieces, and could quote baseball statistics like a pro. She loved Jesus and adored my dad.

Mom may still be living, but years ago, dementia took the person she was. The disease slowly changed her personality and tore down her ability to effectively relate to other people. Although it happened over time, the reality hit me one day. “Mom” was gone; just a shadow remained. And I’ve been feeling the loss ever since.

We were always close. Even after I married and we moved hundreds of miles away, Mom and I stayed connected with regular, long phone calls. I went to her with parenting questions and friendship issues. She always cared, always listened, and always had some words of wisdom.

I never realized how much I had depended on Mom until I couldn’t. But then I discovered that in some ways, our relationship had hindered my dependence on God. When something happened, instead of turning to Him, I called Mom. When she lost the ability to listen and understand, I began to learn how to take those things to the One who would always listen. Always understand.

The psalmist David knew about personal loss and painful relationships. Yet David learned to cultivate a deep, satisfying relationship with God that brought him comfort in the midst of grief, security in tumultuous circumstances, and joy that surpassed any loss.

In the sixty-third psalm, David emphasized God’s presence with His people. Whether through death, betrayal, or simple change, human relationships will always fail us. But God will never fail us. Our earthly relationships can never meet all our needs, but God can meet every need. He can quench our thirst and satisfy our hunger. His love is better than life itself. (See Psalm 63:1-8.)

When you feel alone, when a sense of loss overwhelms you, turn to the Truth. You are not alone. God is with you. Remember the times He has made His presence known to you in the past. Reflect on those moments you’ve experienced His loving care. Whisper His name and turn to Him. Depend on His strength and sustenance.

Yes, our relationship with our parents is different than it once was. Now they depend on us. Now they need our help. Our guidance. In many ways, we are the parent and they are the child. We grieve the people they were and the relationship we had with them. But, in our grief, let’s not miss what we still have. Who they are now.

Today, my relationship with my mother is drastically different than it was. Yet I’m seeking new ways to find joy in the relationship we do have and to help her enjoy the life she still has. Mom can no longer read, stitch, or dance. But she does like watching planes take off and land. So recently, we drove out and parked next to the airport. And we sat and together we watched the planes.

“You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.” Psalm 63:7-8

Kathy HowardAbout the author: Struggling to navigate the parent/child role reversal? Kathy Howard’s new book, 30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents, explores God’s Word to find hope and encouragement for the wide range of physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual challenges the adult child caregiver may experience. Each of the 30 devotions – which can also serve as a guide for a daily quiet time – includes a Scripture passage, a real-life illustration, biblical commentary/application, and questions for reflection.

Join the conversation: How has the relationship with your parents changed in recent years? What are some practical ways you can enjoy the relationship you have with them now.

 Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Advertisement

2 thoughts on “Losing Them Before They’re Gone

  1. Beautiful….my Mom passed away a year and a half ago. We had a relationship similar to the one you shared. In her last year plus, after a stroke, I realized the Mom I knew previously was gone…in many ways anyway. As a result of her stroke, after a while there were more than just physical changes to navigate. As challenging as that was some days, I still enjoyed spending time with her in a different way. As hard as it was to see her so upset with her loss of independence and challenges with her care, we still managed to have many times together that I will treasure always. Through it all God was there, with her, with me and all those involved with her care, whether they realized it fully or not…that is the beauty of what God can do… and is still doing. My Mom, with her unconditional love for me was a gift. I miss her…and am so glad that like you, I have learned to depend on God even more, as it was meant to be all along. Friends and family, and those special relationships can be a blessing, a gift … just never meant to take His place…a place only He can fill. That is what I have learned along this journey of life with its twists and turns…its joys and disappointments. I have been reminded again that in and through it all, we can experience the ‘beauty for ashes” that he has for each one of us. Thank you for sharing this part of your journey. God bless you and keep you in His loving care always.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.