Sharing Our Wisdom

As women grow older, one of the most difficult challenges we face is asking for and accepting help from other people. Most women have assumed roles of incredible and relentless responsibility throughout their lives. These responsibilities include helping the families we grew up in, managing the households we form when we live alone or marry, the unending responsibilities of parenting, and the caregiving responsibilities we may face for a disabled child or our spouse. We have cared for and supported others all our lives and our identities are closely wrapped up in our role as “givers” rather than receivers.

It is a very difficult transition to realize that as we age, we need to begin to ask for and accept help from others. We may feel that our very identity is being taken away from us as we find ourselves no longer able to be the parent, caregiver, or independent woman we have always been. However meaningful those roles may have been, they are not the only defining traits that make us worthwhile human beings. There is an art to asking for help and being gracious when help is offered. This is not something most women know how to do. It takes practice. We can embrace knowing that when we receive the help we ask for and need, we are allowing another human being to feel the joy and sense of meaning that comes from giving to others.

Questions to Consider:
1) How central has self-sufficiency and taking care of others been to your identity?
2) If you are currently less able to do things you once did, how difficult or easy is it for you to ask for help when you need it?
3) What are the personal barriers you struggle with that make it difficult for you to accept assistance from others?
4) Share an experience in which you helped another person and one in which you needed help and were able to receive it with grace.
5) Are you able to broaden your sense of worth to include more than just giving to others? Can you embrace receiving help as another aspect of our humanity?