I was struck by a quotation from a counsellor of the elderly in Lesley Garner's article in the Daily Telegraph today (16 Feb) about elderly people needing to come to terms with their own mortality.
"It is part of our culture that we are unprepared for death and age. Something awful is going to happen to all of us. In our frantic state of denial we are expected to be doing instead of being, and so we continue the spiral of fear and panic. Surely, as we age it is comforting for many of us to downsize our social lives and accept that we are no longer able to be at the centre of other peoples worlds. Giving up this status is a loss and when other losses, such as the death of a partner, loss of home and way of life arrive together we are unconsciously reminded that death is the next stop on the journey. The sense of all the things we did not accomplish and all the friends we did not make, contributes to the feeling of being in unknown territory".
This is the state of many elderly today, who were young in the 1950s and beneficiaries of the 60s-90s boom years. Materialism seems to have smothered the concept of coming to terms with mortality. Many are in denial and hence prey to the joyless fear that "something awful is about to happen" and that everything has a sense of urgency.
Christians, by putting their trust and hope in God, can accept life without regrets believing that in serving God they have done everything they should have done. They believe that there is greater work (and inconceivable pleasures) to prepare for, in relation to which this life is, as one nun said "One uncomfortable night in a bad hotel". This is the real way to find the quality of peace, hope, positivity and joy in old age that previous dignified, and venerated, elderly enjoyed in the past.