Oh Dear, Where Did My Mother Go?

Thoughts slam into me out of nowhere.  Usually while I am driving the bus.  Not great for one who is supposed to be working on being an attentive driver.

Today it was about my mother.  Where did she go?  How long has she been gone?  It gets me so in the gut.  I will not let this day pass without writing at least a little about it.

As many have said before me, I do not know what I think until I write it.  Here goes.


My mother turned 93 a few months ago.  She has been in a nursing home for a number of years now, maybe five.  She has dementia.  Some time ago I came to the realization that my mother was no longer with me.  The person inhabiting her body is no longer her.  Or perhaps she is the real her, minus her inhibitions.  At any rate, she is not the person I once knew as my mother.

It’s not as though I didn’t get to spend time with my mother.  She helped me raise my children.  She lived across the street.  We wrote thousands of letters when we did live apart.  She prayed me through college.  There was never a time when she was not involved in my life.

Until now.

What does one do when one’s loved one has been ‘taken’ by dementia and old age?  Does one grieve before the final loss?  Or does one hold on until the loss is complete?  How does one let go of someone who is still present bodily?  How does one continue loving when the object of their love has disappeared?

Feelings and thoughts conflict.  Rage inside.  Push and shove for a back seat.  Produce guilt. What do they want of me?  What is expected?  How much longer will this continue?

Even before the question is formed, the answer is clear.

  • This is not, as in all circumstances, about me.
  • This is not about the circumstance.  
  • This is not about love or death or duty or guilt or any thing that will make me feel any thing.  
  • It is not about what is seen on the outside, what is said or done.

As in all things, this is about my relationship to my Father, my God.  It is about deepening my level of trust in His Sovereignty.  To always trust that He knows what is best.  That He knows how to ultimately get the glory in all things.  Will I give Him the praise in this?  Will I thank Him even for this?  Is that what He is waiting for?

  • This is about giving God the glory in all things.
  • This is about praising God for all things, good and bad.
  • This is about thanking God for what He will do to bring glory to Himself.

This is not the answer I was looking for.  This is the answer to every ‘problem’.  This is what is the matter every time I come apart, or think that my circumstances are ‘too difficult’.

My focus is in the wrong place.  I need to look to God.  Not to change the way things are, but to change me.  I need Him to meet my need, not give me something to do to ‘fix’ the way things are.  I need to submit to His will, even in this.


5 thoughts on “Oh Dear, Where Did My Mother Go?

  1. Cindy says:

    I’m sorry Joyce that you have to go through this. I know exactly how you feel; I asked the same questions, felt the same emotions. Some days all I could do was pray myself through the day. As far as grieving, you will go through the process twice as the person you once knew has left and then again when she physically leaves 😦


  2. Deb says:

    Joyce, fortunately I can’t say I’ve been to the place where you find yourself with your mom, but I can feel your pain and longing for the relationship that once was. This was written beautifully, and I’m sorry that you’re experiencing such a loss.

    This past week I took my 85-year old mom to visit some older friends of hers. Oh.My. I experienced being around people with dementia and felt at a loss of how to help them. How to share the love of God with them when their minds are far away!

    I especially appreciated your last paragraph. Amen!


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