“Why am I still living? What does it matter if I’m here or not”?
Recently I had an elderly friend express this to me. This is not the first time I have heard a senior ask this question. I seriously pondered it because I really love the seniors that I work with and I wanted to give an example of a good reason for them to feel useful in the community.
What I stated was this,” I think if you’ve been lucky enough to live this long and your family is lucky enough to have you in their life then maybe the reason you’re here is to impart wisdom and share things with them. Things that maybe you didn’t share when you were working in the role of a parent. Perhaps there are important things that they didn’t share with you when they were feeling stuck in the role of your child they still need to share”.
This is a time when we each begin to understand that these facades we live behind are not as important as the fact that we are all humans and we each have experiences that, if we share, could help one another. I have always had older friends around me because I think their wisdom helps me feel safer and stronger. They help me to navigate this uncertain world.
Older family members can reassure their younger family members that “this too shall pass”. If it’s good, appreciate it but understand, this too shall pass. If things are bad, then work your way through and understand, this too shall pass. Often times what gets me through the tough times is some helpful advice of things that have worked for them in the past, or maybe an observation about themselves that they had never known.
Just recently I wrote an article about an elderly friend of mine. I collected and recorded her comments about her growing up and how she felt about her family. When I sent that article to their family members her daughters actually cried and said they didn’t know any of this. I also read it to my friend who is struggling with dementia and when I read her the story that I had written about her. She had tears in her eyes and said that’s a beautiful story . I explained to her “honey it’s your story.” She said it is ? I said “yes, and I sent it to your daughters and now they know you better “she said “that’s beautiful”.
Many years ago I studied infant massage. My instructors explained that infant massage was more than just about helping a baby with her tummy pains or gas. It was about empowering Families. It promoted method of creating more bonding in families through touch and communication. No here it is 40 years later and I have gone full circle. From working with infants to working with more elderly people than young families.
I still feel that bonding with families can happen again and again over time. Humans are the only mammals that can bond more than once in a lifetime. If you are older, take time to really speak to your grandchildren and communicate with them about things that have happened in your life. If you are younger, take time to listen to the elders in your family and not be so quick to discount them. I think the benefit can go both ways and we can all become better humans.