Death & Dying, Life & Living, Love, Poetry

a daughter’s prayer to god

Renee James and her mom
Ella Fae James (January 19, 1930 – June 25, 2015) and her daughter Renee James pictured together in 2013


This poem is inspired by the struggles of compassionate children, especially daughters (of which I am one) who care for others who live until they die with a terminal illness such as Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

I wrote the poem, but it doesn’t belong to me. It’s the collective voice of grieving millions. It belongs to all of us.

Each word is dedicated to every care partner who is torn to pieces, and in particular to Renee James and her mother Ella Fae James (January 19, 1930 – June 25, 2015) who are pictured at the top of this post.

a daughter’s prayer to god


a daughter’s prayer to god

by punkie


dear god

please take

my mother

now and



i can’t bear to see her

suffer anymore

nor can I bear

to see her



mothers and daughters

are sometimes

swallowed up

by life



we push hard and

then we pull,


to fight

our way

to détente


then sometimes, god

dis-ease finds us

first and

makes us

blind, unaware


it steals the

things we

hold dear:





and dignity


please tell me

what happened

to dignity



is it stuffed in your

back pocket like an old

grocery list with

a nameless

phone number

scribbled on the back?


is it what i hear

a lonely elder

choking on

unseen in

over there in

a reclining chair?


go away god

if you can’t

keep track

of the notes

in your pockets

or the glory in the

everlasting corners of

your kingdom



no wait!

forgive me father

for I have



take her now

all these bits and pieces

and fragments of

your daughter

who was once

my mother


pluck her quick

from this drug-




breathe her back to life

on the other side


let her sing and dance

with the angels

instead of



free her spirit from

the tangled mind

the breaking body

the unholy care

that imprison

her now


then again,

bide your time:


a sedated slumber

may be better

than a

final resting

place where

I cannot see

her face or

hold her hand


how can her life

end as mine began

with dirty diapers

tentative steps


drooling and

the search for

unknown words

and meaning?


don’t take her now,



take her.

i will miss her

too much when

she goes.


leave her

hand in mine


we can shuffle

a little further down

hell’s road to



we can play a duet

or two, or three

or more


i can read her stories

touch her cheek

watch over her

as she did me

when I was

her baby

and she

was not



let her stay with me

a little longer


before you

take her home

where she longs

to go


and when you

take her


don’t take

all of her.

don’t take everything.


leave a piece

of her within reach

to accompany me

as I have



take her now god

but don’t take

her ever.

i will





© Susan Macaulay 2016. I invite you to share the links widely, but please do not reprint or reblog or copy and paste my poems into other social media without my permission. Thank you.

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36 thoughts on “a daughter’s prayer to god”

  1. A Son’s prayer too 😥 I know how you feel, all too well. You have put into words, what I have not been able to… What I’ve felt guilty for feeling…


    1. Yeah, a caregiver’s prayer (daughter, son, grandchild, spouse…).

      You don’t have to feel guilty, although I understand how you do – it’s hard not to. It’s just all so heartbreaking.

      On the plus side, it’s also all part of the human experience and we are lucky to be able to feel. I hope you have also had these kinds of emotions:

      Thanks for reading and for your honest and heartfelt words. Sending healing thoughts your way ❤


  2. Thank you Susan. My father is in the end stages of lewy body dementia. Thank you for expressing out loud exactly what i feel on the inside. Although the tears ran because it was so real, it felt good to know i’m not alone, and that someone else understands. My father is my mentor, my hero. I can’t bear to see him like this, but can’t imagine him not being here. Torn….


      1. As hard as it is, a part of me is thankful that I get to be the one to care for my dad. Everyone else in my family has already let go of their relationship with him once he no longer knew them. I’m thankful that I get to share this time with him, throughout all of the bad, it’s brought us closer. When its all over, I will have peace that i was there for him, and know that he would be proud and thankful.


  3. Susan – how poignant and clear. Kept thinking how I can’t wait to click and send to you – right up to the end where I found your name as poet!

    Thanks so much for this…will share it with others



  4. Hi Susan,
    I came across your blog and I am so touched by it. My own mother had Alzheimer’s (or The Living Death as I like to think of it). Anyway, I am doing a little blurb for you on my blog tomorrow. I hope that is okay. I am doing that because I think there are people out there dealing with parents, spouses, etc. with dementia….people that feel alone and disconnected…..people that need to know their feelings are normal…people that vacillate between grief and angst. Thank you for being a voice for the caretakers of the world. xo Diana


    1. Hey Diana,
      Thanks so much. Yes, living death is a good way to describe it. Although that said, I think we need to try to find ways to make it “STILL alive and kicking despite the disease.”

      I would be most grateful to be introduced to your blog followers and fans. I’ve just visited and had a good LOL over your bird pics. You’ve got some creative remodelling going on there too!

      I’m glad you found me and mom and our story, and am be so grateful for the introduction. Thanks a million XOX Susan


  5. How beautiful, so poignant, your words are like a poem, so very deep from your soul! May God give you the strength you need to keep caring for your loved one going through this disease, perfectly described as: Living Dead. God will bless you for this experience.


  6. Such a moving poem, Susan. While my mother did not have Alzheimer’s, I had many of the same thoughts as she lay dying of heart disease. It seems that losing one’s mother creates a real void within us. Hugs to you. Nellie


    1. Thanks Nellie. I think you’re right, no matter how they die, it’s hard and when they’re gone there’s just a big hole where they once were… But I do believe in grace and that the spirit lives on ❤ Hugs back, Susan


  7. I know how hard it is to watch a love one slip away. I have two girl friends that have parents that have Alzheimer’s. My prayers are with you and I know that God will do right for your mother. Diane sent me to you.
    God Bless you,


  8. My husband had frontal lobe dementia diagnosed when he was 50. He died Nov 10 2012 when he was 56. It was very difficult to watch him slowly “disappear” and become someone I did not know much at all. I think it is very difficult to watch a loved one change so much and especially for me since he was so young. I know I learned to be very patient, keep prayers going, take care of myself as well as him, and remember always all the good memories.


  9. Susan, I wish I had found you sooner, your poem captures caregiver feelings perfectly. I lost my mom to Alzheimer’s December 14, 2014 after a 14 year journey with this insidious disease. There were times I begged for her to go and now I want just one more hug. Thank you for the touching and accurate turmoil caregivers face daily.


    1. I’m glad you’ve found me now Sherolyn and thanks for the kind words about the poem ❤

      So sorry about the loss of your Mom and I’m sure I will feel exactly the same way when Pinkie Patti finally goes home. I bet your Mom sends you heavenly hugs daily.

      I hope you will keep following our story and look forward to future comments – now that you’ve found us, don’t let us go 😉


  10. The struggle of holding on and letting go. And praying to God one minute and hating him the next. We have to make things better for the ones with Demtia/Alzheimer’s and the caregivers. Its not okay to “put them out to pasture” Families need to chip in and work together. Thank you Susan for all you do. ❤


  11. What powerful words, brought me to tears. My mum has been recently diagnosed with early on-set vascular dementia and her deterioration is rapid. Your words are heart-breaking in their honesty and truth. Have just found your blog and look forward to reading more.


    1. Thanks Sarah. That piece makes me cry too.

      The top things I have learned in this journey are: to live and experience every moment, to be open to joy and healing, to let go, and to not argue. Do not spend too much grieving losses, but rather focus on discovery and happiness in the moment. Find ways to have fun.

      Open your eyes and see the both of you:

      I look forward to your comments and I will follow your blog ❤


  12. Beautifully poem on the struggles of caregiving…Holding on…letting go… every way we win…every way we lose…But in the end, we always win more than we lose… Love is an incredible journey…Thank you Susan Macaulay for sharing.


    1. Mom lived another two years during which I experienced despair, joy, and intense frustration at not being able to provide her the quality of life and care she deserved and could easily afford. It was such an intense and emotional time, and I’m grateful to be able to give it even more meaning and purpose now that she is gone. I am also grateful to have been with her when she actually did breathe her final breath: dying with my mom

      Thanks for your ongoing words of encouragement Johanne ❤


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