Maturing in Our Old Age: Why Bother?

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness  (c)2014 Nancy Virden

photo-24706337-old-womanPrime. What does that word mean to you?

Prime seats at a Celine Dion concert?

Prime rib at Brown Derby?

Prime of your life?

Marie is 73 years-old. She identifies herself as a non-practicing Jew. She is a retired lawyer, divorced, and living near her daughter for the first time since her daughter moved out at 18. When I met her she had recently overcome cancer and was trying to put healthy lifestyle practices into place.  

Since I am not a mental health diagnostician or doctor, I will not try to guess what drives Marie to make the decisions she makes. Part of me wants to respond to her free-thinking with a loud, “Go girl!” while another part questions if she is actually happy with herself. Why did Marie never align herself with her faith? What makes her now want to develop a closer bond with her child? Perhaps even Marie does not know the answers to these and many more questions. Still, at her advanced age she appears to pursue life.

Or is she running from something else? Marie cries, bellows in anger, is often fearful, and struggles to get out of bed in the mornings. She wonders if she can face death, and fights desperately to avoid it. On the surface it seems she is just now giving death any thought at all. Perhaps denial and escapism have failed to protect her.

Marie is hearing for the first time in our support group what all of us in serious recovery have to learn. We are powerless at controlling every facet of living. Instead, we must cope with truth. Life, on life’s terms.


Even though this lesson is coming to me in my early fifties, it still improves my thinking. By the time I reach 74 I will have had twenty years of knowing what emotional freedom actually means. Peace is settling over the fight to create a future my way. 

Maturing in our older years is worth continued effort. Each step forward we are better than in the past. Tomorrow may not come. The prime of life is today.


NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.

*pictures from







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