by Richard L. Morgan, PhD
Listening to the needs of caregivers as a facilitator of Alzheimer’s support groups for many years, I became aware that care giving and receiving are opportunities for mutual spiritual growth.
Collaborating with gerontologist, Jane Thibault, Ph.D., we wrote, No Act of Love Is Ever Wasted: The Spirituality of Caring for Persons with Dementia. It is our belief that caregivers have two basic needs: affirmation that caregiving is not in vain, and reassurance that the lives of those for whom they care are not being lived in vain. We also believe that care receivers need more than medical attention; they need tender care, involvement in the community, and a sense of connection with a loving God.
This book, based on personal stories of caregivers and receivers, shows how each plays a major role in acts of love that bring transformation to both. Our perspective is that caregiving is an extension of spiritual life, and we hope our book will aid families and professionals to look beyond day-to-day routines and chores and accept their role as an opportunity to serve the total person in body, mind, and spirit. We offer suggestions for the spiritual care of persons with dementia, and helpful tips for leading support groups and worship services for persons with dementia. Our goal was to move beyond the medical model of care and provide the missing piece for caring for persons with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. No act of love is ever wasted as every act of love brings positive transformation to the recipient, to the giver, and to the world.
Drawing on 60 years of experience as a pastor, hospice chaplain, volunteer, and a friend to dying persons, I wrote At the Edge of Life: Conversations when Death Is Near, to offer perspective and counseling for people coping with a family member, friend or patient who is approaching the time of death. Serving in these roles, I learned either to be still or to carry on a conversation with those who are dying. The 30 meditations offered take us from accepting our own mortality, to the impending death of someone we care about through making preparations, to finding closure, and the dying moment.
Each meditation contains personal stories and quotations from scripture which lead into reflective questions and prayer. I wrote At the Edge of Life to help us listen, talk, and relate to each other so that those of us who remain behind are able to both give and receive the gift of this final conversation. I hope that the book will bring a sense of peace that gives readers confidence as companions to the dying. Since its publication in 2014, At the Edge of Life has been on the Amazon list of 100 Best Seller Books on Death and Dying and has received the Illumination Book Award.
About the Author
Richard L. Morgan, Ph.D., a retired Presbyterian (USA) pastor, stays busy writing and volunteering in pastoral care at the Redstone Highlands retirement community where he lives with his wife, Alice Ann. In addition to his seminary training, he has an MA in Counseling and training in clinical pastoral education. He is the author or co-author of 20 books, including best sellers: No Act of Love Is Ever Wasted: The Spirituality of Caring for Persons with Dementia and Pilgrimage Into the Last Third of Life, both written with Dr. Jane Marie Thibault, and At the Edge of Life: Conversations when Death Is Near. He was honored with the 2013 Legacy Award by the Older Adult Ministry Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and is a founder of the ClergyAgainstAlzheimer’s network.
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