Community Blog

Deborah Lynn’s Journey Through Alzheimer’s with Her Mother

By Denise Roskamp

On Saturday, November 4th, the MetroWest Alzheimer’s Partnership and the Alzheimer's Association Massachusetts New Hampshire Chapter will host Deborah Lynn Strafuss, a poet and author of “On Angels Wings: A Journey Through Alzheimer’s with My Mother.” She will lead an educational and inspirational forum for caregivers and professionals, held at the Callahan Senior Center in Framingham, MA.

We sat down with Deborah to learn about her new book, Reiki practice and personal journey with her mother, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2006.

Deborah “first met her mom” as she’d say with a smile, in DC and was raised in Utica, NY. When she was eight, she and her family moved to Wayland, MA where she resides today. As a child Deborah wrote copiously, but moved away from writing as she got older and life got busy raising five children and working in business accounting. It wasn’t until later in life, and her mother’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s, did the writing flood gates open again. “Poetry was my medium to express my feelings, and the book became a way to bring it together and tell my story,” explained Deborah. “For me it was a cathartic journey, tracing the emotional process of grief and loss, and transmuting it into valuable experience.”

The practice of Reiki also became part of her journey during that time. Deborah, now a Reiki Master Teacher, brought the gift of Reiki to her mother. “I learned Reiki as a tool for helping my mother when she could no longer tell us of her worries, aches and pains. It was the perfect answer to my quest for a way to stay connected, bring some relief for anything she needed and express my love in a non-verbal way.”

When Deborah’s mother was put into a nursing home in 2010, she would visit her every Sunday, and use Reiki for 30-45 minutes each visit to soothe and connect with her mother. After a session, her mother's agitation was observably reduced, she became clearer and more present, and appeared to be relieved of her aches and pains. The practice also helped Deborah. “Reiki helped to clear my own self; it made a huge difference that I could be present for my mother and have a clear heart. I have seen and learned how helpful Reiki is with Alzheimer’s not only for our loved ones, but for us as caregivers.”

When Deborah’s mother finally passed in 2015, finalizing the book and having it published became a way to honor her mother, but also to inspire and help Alzheimer’s caregivers embrace their own journey, and give them hope. “You can shift suffering into a purposeful service; shift to a bigger picture for a space in which to walk with a little less fear. Open your eyes, embrace the journey, and see the diamonds sparkle right in front of you.”

EVENT: MetroWest Alzheimer’s Partnership Fall Forum, Saturday, November 4th, from 9:30-11:00AM at the Callahan Center in Framingham, MA. The event is being hosted by the MetroWest Alzheimer’s Partnership and the Alzheimer's Association Massachusetts New Hampshire Chapter.

PRESENTER: Deborah Lynn Strafuss, author of “On Angels’ Wings: A Journey Through Alzheimer’s with My Mother”

RSVP: Please reserve your spot today; call Cheryl at 508-532-5980 ext. 2 by October 30th, 2017.