DIMI IS DYING: REFLECTIONS ON AGING AND GRIEVING
Our little dog is dying and it is heartbreaking to see him wandering around aimlessly, trying, I’m sure, to figure out what’s happening to him. He has been a good friend and has brought much joy and happiness to our lives. We feel privileged to have had his companionship for the past fourteen years, and it will be gut-wrenching to put him down. He has lost control of his bodily functions; he stands in the middle of rooms, staring into space; and wakes up from his deep sleeps, disoriented and puzzled. It is agonizing watching him disintegrate. It will soon be time to say goodbye.
Arleah and I have felt, for some time, that we are dying. We have acknowledged that we are in the last part of our life – it is not grim, nor depressing. It is sobering, sad, full of losses. We grieve a lot – for all the places we’ve been, for all the people no longer in our lives, for the places we’ve lived. We have by no means given up on life. We still love our work, and feel lucky to start people down the path of personal growth, and help others make profound changes in their lives.
It is almost impossible to explain to people what it’s like to get old. It’s not pretty. There’s a saying we learned, when we were living in Montana, that sums up the experience – “There are no happy endings in nature.” The changes are enormous. Arleah and I have been risk-takers and goal setters throughout are lives together. But aging has tempered our risk-taking and our goals have a shorter window and are much less cosmic. That has been difficult to accept.
My work is more impactful than it’s ever been, and aging has allowed me to discard the burden of humility. I am extraordinarily good at what I do. I discover where people are stuck and what they need to change, with amazing speed and accuracy; and that feels enormously gratifying. Most people find that very helpful; some find it too much, too soon.
Other people, viewing us through a traditional prism, can run the gamut from irritating to insulting. Most service providers over simplify their explanations of what they’re going to do, and talk way too loud. I find myself regularly advising people that I have had a number of surgeries, but none of them have been lobotomies.
All in all, becoming an old person has been an ironic experience. As we face the end, the opportunities to start anew are plentiful and intriguing. Knowing us, we won’t be able to resist the challenge.
Morrie, At 76