There are currently 700,000 people caring for family members with dementia in the UK, yet how many us know what life is truly like for these devoted companions?* Often their life and their identity, just like their loved one with the condition, is dominated by the disease. So how do they keep looking forward and put the ‘giant’ that dementia can seem to be, behind their back?
When Carolyn Donnelly’s husband was diagnosed with mixed dementia in spring 2017, it made sense of many things that had changed in their lives over the previous years, and she knew that life for them would never be the same again. Chronicling their first year living with this ‘giant’, Carolyn shares how both her Christian faith and her relationship with her husband were tested to the limit by loneliness and loss as she took on the role of his carer.
Yet she also shares how God’s gracious promises gave her courage to confront the ‘giant’ at their back, and even how she found joy and growth amidst the challenges faced and unexpected blessings received.
Carolyn says, ‘I really hope that our journey will resonate with others who are going through similar experiences and, in particular, will help to raise awareness of the sense of loneliness and isolation that carers can feel. Learning to know when you need help to continue to be able to care for your loved one, and having the grace to accept it, was a lesson I had to learn and I am so grateful to so many individuals and organisations who stepped in to help us during our dementia journey.’
In light of these experiences, Carolyn also hopes the book will ‘challenge churches and other organisations to consider how they can better support carers both practically and spiritually’.
Everyone’s dementia journey is unique, but this honest and poignant love story will resonate with many travelling the same path and help others to understand and offer support to those they know who are having to walk it.
The Giant at My Back by Carolyn Donnelly (ISBN: 9781912726431) is published by Instant Apostle and is available on 23rd April 2021 from bookshops and online retailers. Biography, paperback, 176pp, £9.99.