Treading Dark Waters

Ray Burow avatar

by Ray Burow |

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Treading Dark Waters

Alzheimer’s disease is cruel. And its cruelty is unparalleled, robbing patients and stripping entire families of what they hold dearest. Definite characteristics are associated with this mind-altering condition, one of which is an unfortunate outcome. But if you’re in the throes of the disease, you already know this. I did.

When a loved one is diagnosed, it is impossible to foresee how things will play out. We think we know, but until the various stages rise to slap us in the face, we just can’t fathom any of it. The best we can do is tread water, but the water we scull isn’t clean, pure, and easily navigable. Murky waters of uncertainty churn beneath us, casting scary shadows as we paddle on. And we will paddle on, but not alone.

As a former primary caregiver, I treaded those same treacherous waves. My mother began to lose ground to dementia at an age in which she still had so much living to enjoy. It was a hard diagnosis for her, and for her family, but we determined to stay the course and to be strong for her and for one another.

It wasn’t an easy journey, but we discovered several things along the way. We were stronger together and our spiritual faith kept us sane. We learned to tread well. Even as the waves increased and became darker and more severe, joy lit our way. Even in the difficult passing of time, joy was available. We successfully treaded Alzheimer’s waves and kept Mom afloat for as many years as God allowed. Then, suddenly and sadly, it was done.

We weren’t left without hope. Our faith continues to carry us and we are comforted in knowing that we treaded the waters the best we could, sometimes swimming, sometimes struggling, but always keeping our noses above the waves. We cared the best we could for a precious mother who could no longer care for herself. In that, we are comforted.

Treading the uncertain, murky waves of Alzheimer’s disease, staying its course, and seeking joy in the struggle is the best any of us can do.

It is enough.


Note: Alzheimer’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Alzheimer’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Alzheimer’s Disease.


Alfred S. Burnham avatar

Alfred S. Burnham

I enjoyed reading your article. As a former caregiver for my mother (who had Alzhiemer's disease) and as a Pastor and Hospice Chaplain, I would definitely like to hear more and share with you personal observations about my experience and learn more from you. Please reach out when you can and if you decide to do so. Thank you!

Ray Burow avatar

Ray Burow

Alfred, thank you for reading the column and taking the time to comment. I am sure there is much we can learn from a Hospice chaplain. I will be in touch!

All the best!
Ray Burow


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