Wow, another deep, thoughtful comment that really gets at the key issues. I am humbled.
Does everyone eventually reach gerotranscendence?
The answer is no. There are three points to be made here.
1) Many people die too young to have experienced this kind of mental development.
2) Many people live to an advanced age but never to learn go of the fevered pre-occupations of youth and adulthood. In a sense, they are developmentally disabled, stuck in adulthood, they are unable to break the grip that the memory of youth holds on their minds.
3) Many people live in societies that pave the way into elderhood and the transition from adult to elder is well understood and well trod. They may experience many of the changes associated with the fullness of elderhood but do not feel the change because it was always normal and expected.
At about what age? I’ll be 66 next month and I definitely am not gerotransendent.
You are young and that may be part of the problem. Do you look forward to growing older? The automatic answer to that question in our society is, “Heavens No!” Could you look forward to outgrowing the stage of life you find yourself in today? Yes you could, if you chose to do so. This is what makes the jump into elderhood to difficult in American society. Their is no clear path, no clear leader, and few role models.
To the contrary, I’m feeling very vulnerable at this age, especially when former classmates have either recently died or have cancer. It’s kind of like I suddenly came to the tack-sharp realization that, yes, I, too, am going to die.
Yes you are going to die. I am going to die. Everyone I love is going to die. Nothing can change that fact. The “sharp-tack” feeling is a nudge from your “inner elder” to come to grips with this morality and move ahead.
And I’m scared. Not of being dead. But of the vast unknown that surrounds the dying process itself. And the possibility of intractable pain, or dying in some other horrible way. My grandmother died in her sleep; that’s a good death. My mother is 91; she doesn’t seem scared of what is to come.
If your mother can do it, so can you! Embrace the truth of your own mortality. Obtain or update your health care proxy or durable power of attorney. Doing so will improve your quality of life by reducing your fear.
My husband, 20 years older than I, is in the severe stage of Alzheimer’s. Sometimes he’ll look at me and tell me I’m dead, which is creepy. He often says he’s dead. Maybe these are reasons why death is scaring me right now.
Your experience reminds us that most of the suffering associated with Alzheimer’s Disease is borne by loved ones. You are losing your mate, you feel him slipping away from you and he probably feels something similar. Your distress is 100% understandable. It is also true that there is nothing you can do to cure him.
So, what I am about to suggest is difficult but potentially rewarding. It is possible to put your husband’s comments into a new, more philosophical context. When he tells you that you are dead you can be reminded that life is precious and tenuous at best. He is a sage, helping you remember to value each and every moment. When he says that he is dead. You can remember that everyone around you is only minutes from death every day and act to repair and strengthen relationships with the people you love.
This is not easy to do but it yields deep and lasting benefits.
Well, it IS Halloween today, so I guess Death is saying BOO and scaring the spooks right of me.
In this case, the joke’s on— Death. Hah!
BTW, congratulations on your blog. I think it’s going to be a big help to those of us who are – gasp – rapidly heading toward elderhood and wondering how the heck we got here so dang fast.
You are my elder and I am glad you are out there exploring this undiscovered country we call elderhood.
I love this artist.