Garvin, my brother-in-law had been suffering from dementia for approximately 7 years.  With each year, we saw a diminishing of the person we knew and loved.  He died this past July, and I wrote his wife, Barbara, the following email:

Dear Barbara:

I can only begin to imagine what it would be like to have my husband, lover and friend gradually diminish right before my eyes. I am so sorry about your pain.  I am so sorry that a once healthy man has been so diminished.

I wonder what two or three words you would choose to describe your Garvin as he was in his earlier years?  We look forward to hearing some of your stories soon.  I know what words I would use to describe you as a wife and friend of Garvin.  Those words are loyal, dedicated, strong and loving.

Thank you, Barbara, for loving and caring for my brother-in-law, Garvin.

Thinking of you,

Barbara responded, “I have read and reread your words over and over.  I will cherish them always.  I thought and thought of the words I find most descriptive of Garvin.  They are brave, honest, righteous, unwavering and kind.”

I share this letter with you not because I think it is a model to follow, but I believe that God gave me a helpful caregiving question, “What two or three words would you choose to describe your loved ones?”  It invites a grieving person to reflect and share.

Karen Mulder

Karen Mulder

Karen Mulder is the founder of the Wisdom of the Wounded ministry. She lives in Holland, Michigan with her husband Larry.


  1. Rodger A Price

    This is really good Karen! Thanks for sharing it.

  2. Anonymous


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