A year ago, I wrote an article about acceptance, In the article, I explored ways to accept my husband’s death and living on my own. There is progress, which means I miss him and wish things were different, but here we are. Acceptance, however, is a continued struggle.
It resurfaced during a recent trip. I wasn’t as self-sufficient as I wanted to be:
didn’t manage in the airports so well
was unsteady walking in rocky areas
felt less confident in new places
Sure, there are valid reasons, but it may be time to acknowledge certain limits.
I’m now looking at acceptance in three areas. The first area is realizing that I can’t do certain things effortlessly. This realization includes being honest about aches and pains that get in the way, acknowledging a lesser sense of balance, and the strong desire to prevent future health issues. The second area is admitting that I can’t be completely independent, which was my goal. The third area is accepting that my life will never be the same again.
Normal For My Age
My typical response when I can’t or don’t do something is frustration and anger, which leads to self-criticism - not helpful. Maybe it’s a matter of recognizing that certain “can’t do’s” are a fact of life as a person gets older.
As an example, the Mayo Clinic website says that a person in their 80s needs to be aware of the following differences.
With age, bones tend to shrink in size and density, making them more susceptible to fracture. You might even become a bit shorter. Muscles generally lose strength, endurance and flexibility — affecting coordination, stability, and balance.
The Help Guide website provides a review of tips for aging well. They may balance the naturally occurring changes.
My parents, then my husband, took care of me for 80 years. Now was my chance to take care of myself, and I do for the most part. However, my vision wasn’t sharp after eye surgery and driving the car became a concern, so I gave up my driver’s license. I walk to restaurants, stores, and appointments but need rides from time to time. My balance is less stable than it was. When I go on hikes, someone’s steady hand and walking sticks help make it safer and more fun.
It seems the English poet and scholar, John Donne, was right when, in the 16th century, he wrote:
The Old Life is Gone
The final area - and the hardest to accept is that my life is forever changed - along with that comes heartache. Even after losing my husband in bits and pieces for five years to dementia and his death a year ago – the ache remains. I have a great life now - filled with new experiences and fun. Yet, there is a constant underlying sadness – something - someone is missing in action.
ACCEPTANCE - A CHOICE
The Your Time to Grow website suggests that acceptance is a choice.
Acceptance is a choice. It’s not always an easy choice, but it is something we are required to choose nonetheless. Why? Because when faced with a challenge, there are two ways out – the first is to accept it and find a way to make peace with it. The second is to fight against it, playing the victim and being miserable. There is a secret option, number three . . .bury your head in the sand, but that’s unlikely to get you out of the situation.
Acceptance isn’t about choosing one’s battles or giving in; it’s not a sign of weakness or apathy. It is about sticking with something or letting it be. As Kenny Rogers sings in The Gambler,
You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.
So, if acceptance is a choice, the following suggestions seem helpful.
Acceptance requires conscious practice. It’s frustrating, but as with all things, the more practice, the easier it becomes - so they say.
People may experience normal feelings of resistance, but there is always an opportunity to be kind to yourself. Being kind to myself is a work in progress.
Focus on creating solutions and, if you can’t find a solution, ask yourself who can help.
Look at each experience with curiosity and remember that each situation is different, even if it feels similar to a previous one. When we focus on what’s lacking in our lives, we miss out on all the things that we have. Focus on what you have rather than what you don’t. Practicing gratitude does help.
Having a purpose is also advantageous. It encourages a person to acknowledge what is and take action accordingly. My purpose is to age well, support my family, and write. To that end, I eat healthy foods, exercise, read, and learn new skills. Perhaps, though, it requires a helping hand from time to time.
I love Collen Odegaard’s, approach. In her YouTube video, Curler Connections, she suggests embracing age and being grateful – which seems to be the next step.
A question to ask yourself is, what do you need to accept if you want to age well?