I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t experience getting older as a journey filled with challenges. One of the most powerful challenges of getting older is that we are moving, quite literally, into the second half of our lives. While these particular words don’t have a lot of visceral impacts when we first hear them, as we celebrate birthday after birthday, the notion of a shorter and shorter time to be alive on earth begins to take on more potency.
Particular health conditions may influence the intensity of an increasing sense of having a foreshortened future. Dementia, terminal illness, even severe illness that has not been determined to be “terminal” can make the expanse of our personal timeline feel suddenly less spacious.
Women react to this evolving sense of a diminishing personal timeline in several different ways. One common reaction is to feel an increased sense of urgency. This may be a feeling of urgency to spend more time with loved ones, accomplish personal goals, take better care of our health, and do the fun things we may have deferred during our working and child-rearing years.
This foreshortened sense of personal future can also stimulate fear, depression, and anger while simultaneously fueling a strong feeling that our time on earth is immensely precious and not to be wasted. Let’s explore how getting older affects our personal sense of our priorities, emotional lives, and practical choices.
- At what age or stage of life did you begin to really feel that your time to be alive on earth was truly diminishing—a sense of foreshortened future?
- What emotional reactions have you had to this realization?
- Have there been changes in your priorities and practical decisions as a result of this shift?
- Do you think it is better to keep this sense of moving toward a finality of your life on earth in the forefront of your mind or to try and live without consideration of the fact of your mortality on the front burner?
- How have you personally come to terms with the reality of the second half of life?