Reiki and Dementia
As a healer it’s very hard to watch someone you love grow weaker and more demented every time you see them, knowing there is nothing you can do to make them better. It’s hard for anyone, healer or not: the helplessness watching a beloved elder relative, who used to seem so strong and powerful when you were a child, become a child themselves. And it can only get worse. Dementia is distressing; it’s draining; and it’s exhausting.
My mother is dreaming of making her last journey: she talks of taking a boat trip. She’s taking this boat trip increasingly and telling me all about it, as if she has really taken the journey and returned from it. How she gets on the boat with nothing but what she is wearing and crosses to the other side. At first on these dream journeys, she stayed on the boat. Apparently the other side looks like France, which is full of French people, obviously, who don’t speak English. So she stayed on the boat until it turned around and came back.
Now she has taken to disembarking on the other side, since apparently everyone there has learned English. But so far she hasn’t met anyone she knows, so she reboards the boat and comes home again.
It is as if the Divine is helping her to try out crossing over to the other side in a gentle and non threatening way, getting her used to the idea, without forcing her in any way to take any steps she doesn’t want to.
Apparently it’s not unusual for elderly people to start talking about taking this kind of trip towards the end of their lives. Knowing this gives me the opportunity to reassure her that her family will miss her when she goes, to ask questions about who is there with her, who is looking after her, where she will live and how she feels about being in this “foreign” country – in effect to explore her death and the journey to it in symbols.
She gave me permission several years ago to send her Reiki whenever I felt like it, so I send Reiki to her often now and when visiting, will also often sit with a hand on her – a loving touch that helps to calm her and keep her focused on our conversations. I know this Reiki helps her, whether or not she says anything about it – she mostly doesn’t because these days, due to the dementia, her memory is so very bad that she can’t retain anything for more than a few minutes. However, when I send Reiki she is calm and cheerful when we next visit … and when I haven’t, she isn’t.
Do I do any particular Reiki for myself? Not really. I have been self treating daily for 15 years (Author's note: it was 15 years at the original time of writing, but a lot longer now) and although there are times when I sit with my mother and the emotional symbol and think about her when I’m doing my daily Reiki, it’s not often that I do special Reiki for this particular experience. It seems the Reiki I have done and am doing is giving me the strength to face this journey to “France” with her that in the end she has to make alone.
I am so grateful for Reiki – when life’s trials come, Reiki is always there to support, clarify and focus on what needs to be done. I don’t think I could have faced this situation without it.
(Another Author's note: my mother died in November 2011, at the end of a two week coma. During those days, I remembered that there is a part of the brain that hears and recognises music, so I sang to her.
The first time, she opened her eyes and looked at me. After that, I sang to her often, but she didn't respond again.
Make no mistake, though. Singing to the dying is a great comfort to both them and to you - they hear you ... and it makes you feel that you're doing something. You can also hold their hand, read to them, talk to them, let Reiki flow to them.
They say that you enter and leave the world alone ... but that's not true. At birth, your mother is there - as well as quite a few medical personnel these days! - and at the end, when you hold someone's hand and sing to them, you let them know that in their last moments in this plane of existence, they are not alone - that you are there with them.)