Do This, Remembering Me – A Book Review
By The Rev. Jerry Kolb
A note from our Clergy Editor, The Rev. Laura Queen:
Last year, the Chaplains to the Retired enjoyed meeting with The Rev. Colette Wood to learn about the spiritual care of people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. The Rev. Jerry Kolb wrote this review to encourage others to share this resource. While we prepare for the New Year, and perhaps for some, the final stages of life, we can rest assured that we are all children of God and deserve respect and compassion.
What’s the most difficult pastoral care visit you’ve had to make? I suspect that many would say it is with a person who has advanced dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. There is now guidance for clergy in the form of a very practical little book written by an Episcopal priest, Colette Bachand-Wood. Over its 111 pages, Colette conveys her own experiences with her father who suffered from dementia, together with her pastoral experience as a Hospice Chaplain and as a parish priest. Using people’s stories to help us understand particular situations, she presents very practical and meaningful actions and suggestions to help in ministering in such situations.
While much of her book is focused on providing pastoral care, the suggestions and activities she offers are just as valuable to people dealing with these issues with a family member. Colette provides many examples of the most common signs of dementia and suggests ways to best approach someone with this disease, including helping people to recognize their own body language, choosing the best words to use, and being aware of your own tone of voice. At the conclusion of the book, she provides three appendixes: 1) Putting together a worship service, 2) Prayers, and 3) Resources in which she provides a number of additional activities and services.
Interestingly, the parish she serves is designated as a “Dementia Friendly” parish. People in her congregation are specifically trained to assist families that want to continue to bring their loved ones to worship and they know how to assist family members if and when something unexpected might happen. This is a great book that every clergy person should read, and inwardly digest the wisdom that Colette Bachand-Wood so succinctly shares. It was published in 2016 by Morehouse Publishing, and is available through Church Publishing.
The Reverend Jerry Kolb is a retired priest in the Diocese of West Missouri. The majority of his ministry has been as an ACPE Certified Educator and Director of Spiritual Wellness at Saint Luke’s Health System in Kansas City, Missouri. In retirement, he serves as a Provincial Coordinator for the Chaplains to the Retired Clergy and Surviving Spouses program in Provinces V, VI, and VII.