My experience showed me that…human experience continues beyond the grave...under the gaze of a God who loves and cares about each of us.
- Eben Alexander, neurosurgeon and author
A new friend recently told me about her elderly mother, who had been diagnosed with dementia years before. It was so painful for my friend not to be recognized by the one who had raised her so lovingly and whom she loved very much.
I have a long-held belief that people with dementia have frequent moments of lucidity and understanding that we do not know about. They experience momentary enlightenments during which they remember and understand just as we do, although we do not know about it at the time.
Necessity required that my friend’s mother enter an Episcopalian nursing residence, which she called home for the rest of her life. She was a very happy soul who smiled a great deal and seemed contented in the world she now occupied. The nurses and aides who cared for her loved her. They often said how wonderful it would be to have all the patients as contented and peaceful she was.
When her mother died, my friend was approached at the funeral by one of the nurses who had cared for her all those years.
“I have wanted to tell you something for a long time now but never got around to it,” she said. “Over the years we often found your mother sitting at the bedside of patients in the last days and hours of their lives. She would stop by, hold their hands and just stay with them while they were dying.” Somehow, on some level, she knew that God was calling them home to Himself and she did not want them to be alone on the journey.
It is good to ponder these kinds of things when we are with loved ones and friends we think do not know what is going on around them. They may be more in touch with God, His plans and His world than we are.