Light over the horizon

This morning I heard from Harry (name changed) who is in his 90s. For several years now he’s been taking care of his wife Miriam who is now living in end stage dementia.  ‘Inertia now significant,’ he wrote, ‘she sleeps a lot during the day and has no idea of days, or times or where we live … . She only occasionally asks her husband, ‘who are you?’  After we thank God for food and his many blessings, she says a loud ‘Amen’.’  He manages the housework and cooking, and does the shopping online.  Like many older caregivers he’s a bit frail, with a dodgy heart and a bent spine, but old medic as he is, he walks around their village with his 4-wheel walker and little dog.  (Amazingly, 8- 10,000 steps a day!)

Harry and Miriam have led very full active lives.  They’ve been married for eons and have raised a family: they were overseas missionaries for many years and were very active in their church.  Looking from the outside you may feel sad that their lives are now so limited .

Yet, like a working mobile phone in a dark drawer, Harry’s update is full of light and energy.  He writes, ‘Every day I thank God for many things!  I’m thankful for church friends and neighbours. I enjoy chatting, keeping in touch with family and many people online. I appreciate BBC radio 4 and reading around science, medicine, my faith, and world affairs. Miriam and I are always very grateful for all support, calls and visits from our busy family members who keep in touch whenever they can.

‘We may be a couple of wrecks, and our bodies and brains are in decline, but our spirits and personalities are still here. They will outlast both body and brain. Indeed, our spirits can still develop when other bits are crumbling. Hold onto these encouraging words that Paul wrote to his friends –

‘Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last for ever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last for ever.’  (2 Corinthians 4: 16-18. NLT version.)

Glory!  We are the Easter people, who see the real life through the light of Christ!


Louise Morse

Louise Morse MA (CBT) is media and external relations manager for the Pilgrims’ Friend Society. She is a writer and speaker, and author of books on issues of old age, including dementia, published by Lion Monarch and SPCK. She is a cognitive behavioural therapist, and her Masters’ dissertation examined the effects of caring for a loved one with dementia on close relatives.

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