A friend of mine told me today that she is moving to be near her daughter. She feels that since she is aging it would be best to be near her daughter. She is moving to an independent living place. We talked about this major change in her life.
As we age there are many changes that come to us. We don’t think about this until we are at least in our sixties. We begin to realize that there may come a time when we can’t stay where we are. In the past when families lived near each other this was not such a major change. Now it seems that our children grow up and move away and we not longer have family where we are. I don’t look forward to having to leave my home but know it is a possibility. We all hope that we will age gracefully and maintain our independence but it doesn’t always happen.
Most of our lives are spent acquiring. We acquire spouses, children, homes, furniture and lots of other stuff. As we age we begin to divest ourselves. The next home may have to be much smaller and things will have to go. Children have moved away and have different lives although they are faithful.
The thing about divesting yourself is it’s the little things that get you. My friend has saved cards sent to her that are special and she is deciding let them go or not? It’s these kinds of choices that break us. The mementos of life….they carry so much meaning and to part with them is painful.
Sometimes when I think about this it’s as if most of life we have been on the way up and suddenly we are going downhill way too quickly. It is a difficult time. Maybe losing health, sight, hearing, and friends is too much. We are lucky if we are able to keep active until God takes us home.
Since losing my ministry in January I have discovered that even with my husband at home with me I miss other people. For me, being with others is important. The ministry also gave me a sense of purpose and allowed me to be a help to others. We do have friends that we meet with and a church that we attend but I miss the connection with the people that I saw in my work. This is one of the things that I have been fighting to overcome and something that has led to an increase in worry and sadness. It has made me realize how important connections with others can be.
I just read an article from Spirituality and Health called
Is Loneliness the New Obesity?August 16, 2017.
It suggests that loneliness is rising as a major factor in early death. This makes sense to me on many levels. The article talks about high risk in the rising elderly population which makes a lot of sense. Most people who are aging do not want to move away from the place that they have called home. There are so many negative connotations. I visited so many nursing homes and saw elderly folks just sitting in the halls. Most homes are trying to offer activities for stimulation but in many cases people are past participating. The thing is to get those who are aging to look early for more palatable solutions. A nursing home has long been seen as somewhere you wait to die.
Cost is a major factor in the US. Without universal healthcare there seems to be no acceptable solution. Elderly people can be such a resource and we are wasting it. Homes that have linked up with day cares have worked extremely well in giving both groups joy in their day. We need to explore ideas for solving this crisis.
In addition to the elderly there is the growing isolation among young people. I have been on a soap box about this for quite a while. Our growing dependence on electronic communication can lead to isolation and loneliness. We have to make sure that growing children learn that meeting face to face (and not on face time) is critical to growth and learning. It is so easy to misunderstand the true meaning of a communication that is electronic. Faces tell us a lot.
Most of us live in populated areas which in many ways make it harder to find closeness with others. So many people in large cities have no idea who their neighbor is. We have to have places where we meet with others who have some things in common with us. We need to be connected. Connection helps us to avoid loneliness and the depression that being alone can bring.
I know that I can discover new ways to fill my need to help and be with people. I know that it is up to me. This is part of my journey.
It is terribly hot and humid where I live and we are as housebound as someone snowed in. In the last week I have discovered how disconnected I feel from life.
Having lost my job/ministry was bad but connected with it was the loss of connections. The severing of relationships was the greatest blow.
I suspect that I am feeling what many people my age (76) feel at this time in their life. Suddenly you are not working and for me that was connection with people. Until I can better understand my next focus I am adrift in a world of loneliness.
I am just stubborn enough to say I am not done yet! I have not yet established a pattern for my days and seem to have little to look forward to. If anyone wonders what older people feel when they are forced to confront not being needed I can tell you. It sucks!
I do know that it is up to me to find new direction and since I do believe that God directs my ways I know that some answers will come. However, now I am befuddled and sad. I am sure that this is no fun for my husband as well. He is a blessing of support and love.
I think at this particular moment sadness is more prominent than anxiety. I am not anxious about what to do but still dealing with the sadness of loss. Having run Grief Support Groups I understand about grief and know that it is a process. There is no set time or pattern. Every person travels through it differently. I am finding my way and know that change will come. Nothing ever remains the same.
One of my favorite quotes comes from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer in the Service of Compline it says:
“Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the hours of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness;”
At this moment I am wearied of the changes.