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reaching out…..

October 21, 2010

me and dad on my wedding day~1998

i did something yesterday that i have been avoiding ever since my dad’s alzheimer’s diagnosis 8 years ago.  a sweet friend of mine, who happens to work for the alzheimer’s association, has been encouraging me to join an alzheimer’s support group, either in person or online.  i kept refusing to do it, thinking that hearing the stories of  others who are walking this alzheimers journey will make my pain even worse.

but God’s been at work in me…as usual.  🙂 

it occurred to me the other day that maybe, just maybe, my joining a support group could be for a different reason than just sharing my story.  maybe i’m now in a place where i can use my story to help others who are on this journey–this painful, alzheimers journey. 

that just maybe, through reaching out to others, God will use me to encourage them.  i would honestly be able to say to them, “i totally understand what you’re going through”, because i do.  i’ve been there.  i’m still there.

so i did it.  just before lunch time yesterday, i signed up for an online support group forum.  the forum i signed up for is specifically for family members of people with early onset alzheimers, like my sweet dad.  i shared a small portion of my journey through alzheimers and left it at that.  by dinner time last night, i couldn’t believe my eyes.  i already had 6 responses to my post—all from people who were hurting, just like me.  i couldn’t believe how much i could resonate with what they shared.  and i couldn’t believe how easy it was for me to reach out to them, to encourage them and to share with them things i’ve done to help cope with the various things they shared. 

5 years ago i wasn’t ready for this.  couldn’t share my pain with strangers.  but God has now brought me to a plce where i am ready to reach beyond my own pain to help others.  i still hurt and i will continue to grieve, but now i can use my grief to hopefully share God’s love with others who are on the journey with me.

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