Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like [those] who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13 NIV)
I have always appreciated the wit and wisdom of Charles Schulz in his Peanuts comic strip. As a devout Christian, he used his craft to build the Kingdom of God.
Many of you would know Charlie Brown’s favourite words: Oh, Good Grief. He often didn’t know what was happening to him, and in three simple words he expresses his heart:
There is a lot of grief in dementia. Like Charlie Brown, we often don’t know what is happening – and it is not as simple to express our heart. We all experience Grief.
Someone has said that dementia is ‘The grief that keeps on giving’. That is certainly my experience, both personally and professionally: through my mother’s journey with dementia, and through thousands of residents and families who I have been privileged to serve.
Someone much wiser than me speaks about ‘The 3 Griefs of Dementia’: the grief when the person is first diagnosed; the grief when they enter residential care; and the grief when they eventually die. That journey often takes many years. We often don’t know what is happening – and it is not simple.
In my calling as an Aged Care Chaplain I am often asked how I cope with all of this grief. How do I keep positive? What keeps me going?
It’s simple. I put my hope in Jesus. His death and resurrection tells me that death is not the end. Because of Jesus any death can be a new beginning – a journey to our ‘long Home’ as someone once said. In fact, death is the final healing. Of course I grieve, but I do not grieve without hope.
Jesus’ life, death and resurrection awes me, and so my heart cries “Oh!”. I know that God is Good. And I Grieve. I may not know what is happening, but in three simple words I can share with my friend Charlie Brown: Oh! Good Grief.