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Dementia - a spiritual journey towards the divine A personal view of dementia Christine Bryden.

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Presentation on theme: "Dementia - a spiritual journey towards the divine A personal view of dementia Christine Bryden."— Presentation transcript:

1 Dementia - a spiritual journey towards the divine A personal view of dementia Christine Bryden

2 People with dementia... §“live within a complex web of social encounters that are tainted with stigma.” § Stigma “like racism is pervasive and endemic to their existence.” §This threatens our spiritual identity.

3 Dementia has been called the “theological disease” §Dementia “entails a loss of self [and is] disintegrative, non- redemptive [thus] challenging theologically.” §“But can you truly say “my mind is absent and body an empty shell”? §Where does my journey begin? At what stage have I lost my spirituality?

4 What measures my existence as a spiritual being? §As cognition fades, spirituality can flourish as a source of identity. §A spiritual self reflected in the divine and given meaning as a transcendent being.

5 Is spirituality the temporal lobe? §If I can get my God- experience from a well-placed electrode … §will I lose my God-experience when I have lost even more of this part of my brain? §But we know so little about the brain, let alone how it relates to the mind and soul.

6 The lie of dementia... §… is that the “mind is absent and the body is an empty shell.” § This medical model silences the voice of people with dementia. §I am more than a damaged brain. My creation in the divine image is as a soul capable of love, sacrifice and hope, not as a perfect human being, in mind or body.

7 I believe... §The Christian creeds and confessions start “I believe”, not “I remember.” §“As I unfold before God, as this disease unwraps me, I can feel safe as each layer is gently opened out.” §God’s everlasting arms will be beneath me, upholding me.

8 We are reflected in others... §In the family of God, the body of Christi, we are what others remember of us. §“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” §I will need you to be the Christ- light for me, to affirm my identity and walk alongside me.

9 What about whether I can be in communion with you? §“Do this in remembrance of me” - an action, not a cognition, a memory, or an understanding. §I am part of the body of Christ and of all its acts of remembrance. §The Holy Spirit is within me, despite my diseased brain, and helps me in my weakness “with groans that words cannot express.”

10 I need to seek emotional healing §… as this disease will increasingly challenge all my relationships. §Within the body of Christ these are “oiled” by the Holy Spirit, but I must do what I can while I can. §As the disease progresses, “it’s the work done by others which becomes crucial.”

11 I need to seek spiritual healing §… for this is eternal. §As I travel towards the dissolution of my self, my relationship with God needs increasing support from you, my other in the body of Christ. §The Holy Spirit connects us - our souls, our spirits - not our minds or brains.

12 Who I will I be when I die? §My soul will always be me, even through the ravages of dementia. §It is given life and meaning in Christian community. §You play a vital role in connecting with me at this eternal level.

13 My journey is a path §of survival with dignity... §of making meaning in life... and §of discovering the glory of God within me. §“We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us … as we let our own light shine, we … give other people the permission to do the same.”

14 I can feel confident to believe §“I may make all things well and I can make all things well, and I shall make all things well; and you will see for yourself that every kind of thing will be well.”


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