The Agony of Age

Knick KnacksBoth of my parents died relatively early in life.  Dad was three years ago at 83 and Mom died 38 years ago at only 49.  It was difficult losing them but recently I have been supporting my cousins through the ordeal of finding proper care for their parents who are suffering from dementia.  I think the loss they are experiencing is so much harder.

It is painful to watch people who have always been vibrant and fun become gruff and even violent.  They are fast becoming people who none of us know. I find myself wishing they just go to sleep and not wake up.  They are confused by the things that are happening and they are saying nasty things to their children who are truly only trying to help.

Some of this trouble and hurt could have been spared if they had taken some sensible steps when they were still well enough to make good decisions.  Decisions about what kind of care they would want, where to live and even sorting through some of their things to decide what they could dispose of.

It seems to be a common issue with this particular generation.  They are the ones who went through the  depression as children.  They went from having nothing in the 30’s to having a great deal by the time they were 50.  They collected knickknacks and whatnots galore and are tied by chords of memories and accomplishments to rooms full of furniture and keepsakes.

Looking from the outside, it also seems they have the strange belief they are going to live forever.  This leads them to believe they won’t have to ever leave their homes.  One person of this age I know says her kids can sort through it when she is gone but I think she really believes that will never happen.

Life would be perfect if we could all live our lives comfortably in our family homes until we die in our sleep but the reality is most of us who live to be over 80 will suffer some sort of physical or mental disablement which will require special care in homes without stairways at the very least.  At the worst we lose our mental capabilities and need to be locked away in a safe place where we can be watched and cared for, hopefully with dignity.

When I was at my aunt and uncles the other day they had just received word they were going to have to go into a home.  They might have to be separated for a while until space came available for them to be together.   My Aunt’s heart was broken and she was nasty with her children accusing them of wanting to get rid of them and saying they were taking away her life.  She is not clear enough to understand their intention is a good one and that it is not safe for them to be living alone anymore.

I watched while four hearts broke.  My uncle didn’t really understand what it was all about but I’m sure that somewhere in that fog where he now lives his heart was broken too.   The people who we loved are gone and we will have to go through losing them twice.

For me the final times may be simple.  I don’t have much so there isn’t much to lose but all of us need to be sure things are IN ORDER so our children and family don’t have to suffer the sort of agony my family are now feeling.



About Peggy Guiler

You just never know what show up on my blog. As the name implies it is about the stuff of life just like Spilt Milk. Everyday events spark thought and contemplation. Special events in the community, the country or the world may strike a cord and get me talking. Sometimes it's about people in my life or circumstances, sometimes about my garden, sometimes about a book or a political issue. Always it's about something I am passionate about. In my business, River of Hope Enterprises (, I work as an "Certified Coach" (International Coach Federation), a trainer, consultant and speaker. and as a spiritual director. I also drive a school bus to keep the wolf from the door while I build my business. I love the kids on the bus (most of the time). My family is grown and I have three grandkids who thrill my heart but I don't get to see any of them very often. Circumstances of life have made "family" difficult. My son died by suicide at age 16 in 2000 and the strain on our family relationships since has been huge. Mental health is a field where I worked for almost 22 years and where I still do some consulting and training. That combined with my own battle with depression and my son's death weave together to form some of my greatest soap box items: suicide intervention, suicide bereavement and peer support in mental health are right on the top of my list. Social justice is an underlying passion. Keeping the wolf from the door as a single parent was full-time work and my career path as a journalists was augmented with cleaning contracts, cooking, retail clerk, and bartending. I have known hard work and am grateful for the experience and perspective it has given me. A firmly grounded faith and a passion for learning has now taken me toward a new field as a Spiritual Director and I am soon adding to that a license to marry people. As I move toward retirement I am very aware that I have to keep working so I chose to do things which will meet my modest financial needs and also my love of supporting people in their life journey. Woven into all of this is my love of writing. Trained as a Journalist, and having worked in the field as a freelance news writer for many years, I have a great love for writing. This blog is a new beginning for me. As I hone my skills and begin to form a daily discipline of writing I hope it will lead to more writing in the future.
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One Response to The Agony of Age

  1. This is so true. I’ve watched changes in my parents and my husband’s parents before they all died. I’ve had that conversation with my son many times. I told him I don’t want to go to a nursing home anymore than other people. However, if that is what is best for me, do it and don’t second guess yourself. Not even (maybe especially) if I go kicking and screaming into the good night. I’ve also started sorting things, getting rid of a bunch. I want to enjoy myself, but leave little debris behind when I do go.

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