Wednesday, 04 December 2019 15:54

Enriching the Last Third

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My friend has a magnet on her fridge: Growing old is not for sissies. We used to laugh about it…when we were a little younger. But then it keeps on happening, this aging. It’s quite a transition, not really one we are ready for in many ways. We have watched others make the journey before us and for some it seems to be fairly straightforward, for others not so much.

A certain amount of looking back happens to many of us. There are regrets and there are griefs. And often there is joy in remembering when we got it right. And as time goes on there is the more urgent task of coming to terms with the knowledge that we will die. Not if but how and when. Another thing that some do easily and others not so much.

Gay Luce, transpersonal psychologist, said growing old “is a time to discover inner richness for self-development and spiritual growth. It is also a time of transition and preparation for dying, which is at least as important as preparation for a career or family.”

Part of that might mean some work on reconciliation – on recollecting things you could have done better, relationships you could have, maybe should have, cared for. Or there might be relationships that are not good for you. Maybe guilt keeps you there, or fear. And you’re not sure what to do about that.

And as far as grieving goes, many of us have shoved that into a dark place. Too hard, too painful, I can outrun this. Part of the preparation for a comfortable old age is sorting these things out, making some good decisions for yourself. And for others perhaps. Allowing the cleansing power of grieving.

Start soon (maybe today) and as you do this work, you will begin to find your life enriched. Far from being a dark journey, it can become a gradual lightening. And lightening in the sense of burdens too. Maybe you can start to put them down, breathe more easily. The last third of life can be a joy, a time of celebration and the savouring of each day. Valory Mitchell, another psychologist, suggested “We must lay claim to our own lives.” Do it now, I say.

When death comes, may it find you alive! (African proverb)

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