Sustaining Persons, Grieving Losses
Dementia presents a significant social issue in a hyper-cognitive culture where stigma, relational neglect, and isolation still accompany forgetfulness. This raises serious theological, ecclesiological, and pastoral questions calling for a Christian response. To fight against a malignant social positioning of anyone as an ""an empty shell"" is crucial; nonetheless, there is another pressing reality, the reality of ongoing loss. Often the focus is on one or the other side: affirming personhood or acknowledging loss and grief. Spiritual caregiving and Christian pastoral caregiving are uniquely placed to offer both sustaining relationship and grief support to both caregivers and persons with dementia. This pastoral approach emerges from cultural scholarship, rigorous on-the-ground research, and theological reflection on God's purposes in responding to persons in and beyond the Christian community. Christian communities are called to be places of agape love, compassion, and hospitality. We, individually and corporately, are called to care: to love, honor, value, comfort, and sustain one another--and ""one another"" includes those who travel the road of forgetting and those who travel with them. This fresh pastoral approach offers theologically and culturally informed, practical ways of sustaining persons in the midst of their losses, throughout the dementia journey. ""This is a most timely and significant publication. So much has happened in our understanding of dementia since Tom Kitwood pioneered person-centered care, and Dianne Crowther is a sure guide. Her approach, based upon careful research, is neither overly optimistic nor unduly pessimistic but always positive and practical. Throughout she highlights the situation of the easily forgotten family caregiver and argues cogently for the place of Christian theology and spiritual support in truly multidisciplinary dementia care."" --Albert Jewell, former Pastoral Director, MHA Care Group; Visiting Research Fellow of Glyndwr University ""To this study Dianne Crowther brings both personal and professional experience of being with people who suffer from dementia. She reflects upon her rigorous academic research with theological insight and pastoral sensitivity. This book will provide a major resource for all involved in this important and difficult ministry, but who often feel inadequate to the task. Its wisdom will both enhance pastoral care and lead to greater personal satisfaction on the part of caregivers."" --David Lyall, former Principal of New College, University of Edinburgh ""In this thoughtful and well-written book, Dianne Crowther shares deep insights that help strip away some of the negativity that surrounds dementia and open up fresh vistas of hope and new possibilities. Her frameworks for care and understanding lead us into modes of compassionate wisdom which allow all of us to move beyond caricatures and stereotypes about dementia towards a deeper understanding of the personhood and humanness of those living with this experience. This is an important book that, I hope, will do important work."" --John Swinton, Professor in Practical Theology and Pastoral Care, School of Divinity, History and Philosophy, King's College, University of Aberdeen Dianne Crowther is a highly experienced chaplain who has worked in both the community and aged care sectors. She has held roles as educator, pastoral caregiver, and, most recently, researcher. Her PhD focused on the provision of pastoral care for persons with dementia and their family caregivers.
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