Is there a God, and if God created everything, why dementia?

Everyone has their own spiritual beliefs. Most usually center around religions with individual dogmas and spiritual practices. Many believers picture God as the creator of everything, and loving while some believe him to be righteous; passing judgment, sending souls to heaven or hell. Some disbelieve there is a God and think this life is all we get, while others believe in reincarnation and many lives. And some envision God to be infinite energy, everywhere connected to everything.

Regardless of your spiritual belief, if you believe in God, you probably believe in a soul. What happens to that soul during dementia?

After a close call with a pedophile priest at 12, I left Catholicism but kept belief in a higher power. My spirituality is bits of many religions with Buddhist philosophy holding a star position. My faith in a higher power and a divine plan for everything is unshakeable. Here in Costa Rica, the locals have a saying, “No hay mal que bien no venga.” (There’s no bad that good can’t come from it.) We just can’t see the bigger picture.

In those early days working with people with dementia, I asked myself, “If we are spiritual beings having a human experience, why are so many suffering with dementia?” No one can actually explain this.

Often, the suffering in the world gets blamed on God when so much of it is of our own making. Wars, injustice, strife, and so many illnesses are because of our toxic environment, stress, and unhealthy life habits. Science can’t yet pinpoint the causes of many dementias, but we might someday discover that man is responsible for these too. With all the pollutants we live with daily, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Traumas, hardships, and challenges in life can create an opportunity for growth, both for individuals as well as the collective human race. This global pandemic has changed everything we knew, and it seems disastrous. But when it’s eventually over, we will have the chance to rebuild in a better way.

Dementia gives everyone a chance to become a better and more loving person.

The person diagnosed has the opportunity to reassess their life and make changes. Now is the time to focus on creating a better life in the present. Don’t wait two years to take that dream vacation, or learn to paint or play music. Reconnect with people and forgive. Clean up your diet, and begin that exercise routine you have put off. Live life to its fullest for as long as you can starting today.

The caregiver also can take life’s lemons and make lemonade. Yes, it is going to be incredibly challenging, and many times you will feel you are breaking. But this teaches you resilience and how to find your inner strength despite all you are facing. You’ll learn about caring for a person and managing home care staff, creating routines, and managing your time. Empathy increases with patience and acceptance.

A reporter asked Mother Teresa, “What do you see in all the suffering in Calcutta?” She replied, “I see Christ in all his distressing disguises.” She could see the divine within the person despite their suffering.

To love unconditionally means leaving the past behind as well as regrets and guilt. It means unconditionally accepting your loved one as they are in this moment and see their divine self beneath the distressing disguise of their dementia.

This is where God is.


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