In the past few weeks, this author has received many comments referencing the column on grief. Whether it is for the death of a friend or the loss of a job, job security or retirement savings, grieving loss is a necessary part of life. With that in mind, we take the liberty of re-sharing this column from 2007.
“It seems like every day I learn of someone else who has died or discover something else I can’t do.” The 87 year old client who shared this with me summed up perfectly the constant state of loss and grief which is part of aging.
As I approach 60, gardening has become something I get in shape for each spring. Driving at night is more difficult. Skiing the big bumps is no longer possible for the same reason I need to wear elastic supports around my knees when I dance. My body has lasted long enough to have earned a little accommodation.
Whether it is the death of a friend or realizing we can’t carry the air conditioner down from the attic anymore, it is a loss. Some are significant to everyone. Others are private and difficult to explain. All matter and deserve to be grieved. That is not always easy.
When my knees couldn’t take the moguls anymore, I decided to stop skiing. It just wasn’t the same. An old ski buddy had faced the same decision a few years before. He adjusted and continued to ski. I didn’t and we drifted apart. More loss, more grief.
It wasn’t until I attended a class on grieving that I appreciated what was happening. Not only had I stopped skiing, I no longer enjoyed winter at all. Because I hadn’t allowed myself to grieve, I couldn’t process the loss and move on. Once I did, I was able to replace one winter sport with another. Now, I thoroughly enjoy snow walks with my camera in the woods behind my house.
So, when Dad shares that he can’t do this or that anymore, don’t minimize it. Inquire about how he feels; acknowledge how tough that must be. When Mom’s friend passes, ask about the person and encourage a few stories of the times they had together. We can help to bring the grief out into the open where it can heal.
Sometimes the best support we have to offer is taking the time to listen.
Aging in Place, it doesn’t happen by accident.