Without a Map: A Caregiver’s Journey through the Wilderness of Heart and Mind

From the Introduction

When I fell into step with my Dad’s journey with dementia, I did not have any idea where we were going, how we would get there, or what we would encounter. But we would travel together with attention to the moments that would arise along the way.

Dedicated to my family and to the grace that awakens in the heart of giving and receiving

Without a Map measures up to my sense of what makes a book not just
good but superb. In Lisa Steele-Maley’s graceful prose—which is a joy
to read—you see a fine mind and a loving heart at work. Her use of her
frequent forays into the wilderness as a metaphor for her journey with
her beloved father thru the thickets of Alzheimer’s disease gave me more
guidance than I received from learning science-based “tips, tricks, and
techniques” as I tried to accompany my mother on the same journey. And
the take-away lessons to be learned from this real-life story are
treasures in themselves. E.g., “Caring for, loving, and grieving for my
Dad has heightened my resolve to live a life of intention and
meaning”—the final lesson from a father who had already taught his
daughter well. I finished the book with a more understanding heart, more
courage (at age 80) to face into my own old age, and with a smile on my
face: While it's true that there is no map for the perplexing journey
with a loved one lost in Alzheimer’s disease, Lisa Steele-Maley in this
beautiful book has provided us with a metaphorical map that I found
profoundly inspiring and useful. I believe that you will, too.

Parker J. Palmer Author of On the Brink of Everything, Let your Life Speak and more December 6, 2019

In Without a Map Lisa Steele-Maley invites us to pause, embrace our loved ones, and embrace the good that is in each moment as we come to accept the unknown together. Steele-Maley offers solidarity and hope, along with many examples of practical problem-solving, to anyone who is in a position to care for an aging parent or loved one. Her own walk with her father through the profoundly destabilizing experience of his illness and passing is recounted honestly, but Steele-Maley reminds us that caregiving can open us up to awe and reverence for the wonder that each lifetime really is.

Elizabeth Gibbons Capdevielle, PhD University Writing Program, University of Notre Dame December 6, 2019

In this courageous and important memoir, Lisa Steele-Maley guides us into the art of gentle companioning. Through the wilderness of loving and letting go, she provides a map and a compass: Show up. Be present.

Sherry Flint Inn Along the Way December 9, 2019

Without a Map is an insightful and valuable description of what it’s like to be the long-term caregiver for someone with dementia. Told with candor and wit, it’s moving, enlightening, and a gripping account. I would highly recommend it for anyone caring for a loved one with dementia.

Dr. Barak Gaster Professor of Medicine, University of Washington December 10, 2019

A lifetime of wilderness experiences provides an exquisite frame and potent context for dementia’s unstoppable exhausting robbery.

Lisa writes “If the fog lifted near midday, the sun was warm, but if the wind was blowing down the glacier, it carried the coolness of the ice with it. I often felt chilled to the bone beneath the warmth of my exertion that summer.” it perfectly describes multiple experiences that are forced together. This forcing of previously unrelated experiences sums up both the challenge and the opportunity that dementia provides for the caregiver.

Her story provides a vivid description, so as to facilitate beneficial recognition and familiarity, but not so detailed that our individual experience is compromised or derailed. Lisa Steele-Maley’s book is a rare, necessary, and welcome light for a journey filled with darkness and confusion.

Watson Jordan Author of Mine, Ours, and Yours: A Father's Journey through the Life and Death of a Child December 31, 2019

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