A Type of Death Worse Than Dying


Pat Robertson’s response to the question about marriage and Alzheimer’s is worse than the disease itself.

A few years ago, I witnessed the sad, slow decline of my grandpa.

It was particularly painful to watch because my grandpa was the life of the room. The term patriarch was created for men like him. He could hold your attention with a story he had already told you a dozen times. He loved everything in his life ferociously. Yet, at the end, he became smaller, simpler, and sad.

It was hard watching him suffer and eventually succumb to the disease that wracked his mind and body.

What made the largest impact on my life during this time of prolonged, painful descent was the way my grandpa was cared for by my grandma. With love and respect, Grandma prepared Grandpa’s meals and selected his clothes and tended to his most basic and personal needs.

It was during this time that the meaning of marriage was crystallized in my mind.

Being married only a short time by comparison, I began to understand that marriage does not exist primarily for the perks that it affords. Among many things, marriage provides companionship, offers stability, and generates comfort.

But marriage–by its definition and design–exists to provide a context for persistent self-sacrifice for the good of the other.

The marriage vows were not created primarily to promise loyalty during the for better, for richer, in health years. Those kinds of promises have all the substance of the prodigal son and his buddies during the good years. The marriage vows were made for the storms, the catastrophes, the wildernesses.

I saw my grandma love more fully, more tenderly, more completely when my grandpa was dying than I ever saw when he was well. It is not that my grandma did anything different when Grandpa was healthy. It was that she was just as loyal, just as faithful, and just as supportive when he was sick that made the difference for me. Love unrewarded is the truest love of all.

Pat Robertson’s belief that a husband can dump his Alzheimer’s-stricken wife and start again is disgusting.

I am grateful for a grandma who stood by my grandfather and said with her life:

I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life …


  1. There are no greater lessons to be learned than those we receive from watching the example of our Grandparents. I always say that when I grow up, I want to be just like my Grandma. This past year has been more than a little trying for her with my Grandpa being very ill but, the thought of leaving him would never even enter a realm of her being. She married him for ALWAYS. :)
    LOVE this post! I will have to hit "Share"

  2. Well written Trisha! I will say that I saw first hand the marriage vows "for better or for WORSE, in SICKNESS and in health" being put into practice. It wasn't even 3 months into my marriage when I got thrown off a horse and broke my hip. I needed help for everything there for awhile. My husband was such a servant to me. I knew right then and there exactly what kind of man I had married! :) And was so thankful for the Lord giving me someone who would stay by my side. Little did we know then that there would be plenty more trials ahead. But, it has always grown us closer together and to the Lord.
    Thank you for writing. BTW ~ this is my first visit to your blog! :)
    Valarie Handyside

  3. Amen!

  4. Good Preaching, TP!


  5. What a shame that someone would suggest such a thing. I can't even watch the clip I'm so disgusted.

    Your description of love and marriage is beautiful and true. I never got to see my grandmothers that way as my grandfathers both died when my parents were young. But I see my mother performing tireless service for my father the past four years especially as he is bedridden. And this after 50 years of serving him as a dedicated wife.

    I can only imagine all the work the poor woman with Alzheimers performed as service for her husband over the years.

    Thanks for sharing your memories and insights.


  6. I applaud you for your post. I have not watched the video; but I had previously read some of what Pat Robertson said. I was horrified. I wish he would stop claiming Christ when he speaks so against the truth of the Bible.

    I have watched husbands walk away from wives with chronic health issues much less severe than Alzheimer's. Robertson's words would lead to excusing that. There is no excuse. It is selfishness. It really saddened me that with his sphere of influence, people would begin to excuse such things.

    I also was blessed to see long term love and dedication in my husband's grandparents. I found myself so encouraged, since in today's society it certainly is not prevalent. My grandmother-in-love started failing first, and her husband was just so dedicated to her. In the end, he actually failed pretty quickly and she was left alone. But, their last couple years together were an incredible example to us as grandchildren. I am so thankful to have that in my husband's heritage. It is not something to take for granted.

  7. Shame on you Pat, what about in sickness and in health. I am there, I know….I will never leave or forsake the MAN who worked and cared for me and our children….you have no idea how hard it is….but for 56years we cared for each other and I am left to finish as of this time…so with Gods help, I will see him to the end….I feel for your wife, what a wimp you are.

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