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Old Friends

Old Friends

Two old ladies in their eighties, seemingly happy in their companionship.

This photo always brings up existential issues for me... will I reach old age and how will I feel about the proximity of my own death? How will I cope with a body or a mind or both that doesn't function well, causing pain on a constant basis?

These are big issues, maybe the biggest we have to face throughout our lives - coping with the thought of our non-existence and our decline. Leaving all our loves ones behind. Depending on others for our most intimate activities. Maybe having to tolerate cruelty and neglect and of course loneliness and the increasing loss of others.

Of course there are many people who believe on some level that life carries on - in heaven, in hell or some other dimension. If their belief is deeply held, then this must comfort them considerably. But nobody knows for sure do they?

Having been in a life threatening health situation myself, I believe that I have faced up to some of these questions, and would say that as a consequence my current life has more vigour and purpose. I am very grateful for being given the opportunity to stop and give myself time to look at my fears.

Running away from anything is scary. We are afraid of the unknown. By knowing a little about what scares us, I feel, gives us something to work with, to dismiss some of the fear, (though of course it will never disappear altogether).

This is about learning to accept. Knowing that nothing is for certain, but living a life accepting as much as we can. Knowing that our lives may shrink, yet still seeing within that smaller world simple delights and small gifts. Seeing the beauty in the mundane.

There are so many issues here - things to learn about and to develop. Bringing any of these issues to a therapist to explore with someone who cares and hears what you are saying in your words and with your actions and gestures can be life changing. It is a courageous step to take, to turn around and look at your feelings about getting old and dying.

Make sure that your therapist is comfortable with these issues themselves. As I said before, they are BIG!



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