Mourning your youth? Aging takes courage, I once heard someone say. We begrudginly watch things disappear: the death of loved ones, our looks and our health. As women, we have been programmed to believe that a large part of our worth is tied up in our looks and how much we give to others. If we believe that our importance and purpose are determined by something outside of our interal state of beingness, AND those things diminish as we age, then it makes sense that most aging women need to recognize the need to mourn their past.
There is something about becoming aware of a thing that reduces its impact on us. Looking at, noticing, observing and honoring a phenomenon like Mourning What Once Was/Our Youth takes away its sting.
As a woman about to turn 53 years old in one day, I recognize that we will all mourn our youth eventually. I believe there are different levels of mourning for our youth, which intensify as we get older. For example, I still feel like I want to produce a lot of value to give back to society because I still have plenty of energy and drive to create. But when I’m 20 years older, I won’t likely have that same desire.
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Three Painful Milestones Of Mourning Our Youth
- We witness many people we love die.
- We notice the physical changes of our aging face and body.
- We have to work harder to maintain our health as we age.
Everything Goes Away Eventually
Steve, my husband, sometimes jokes with me, like he just did, “Everything goes away eventually–you need to strengthen your emotional muscle to accept that.” It’s a trigger though. I wish I could detach from the idea of death, but I haven’t been able to…at least not completely.
Death isn’t easy for anyone to accept, but I believe I’m especially triggered by it because of a childhood imprint. When I was 6 years old, I lost my Aunt Elaine. She was exactly 10 years older than me because we were both born on 9/23. We were close and she’d take me everywhere with her, to the A&W Rootbeer, Jubelt’s Bakery, and she even let me hang out with she and her boyfriend, Jim.
One Day She Was Playing With Me And The Next Gone
One June day after a sleepover with my cousin, Donna, we were playing “Restaurant,” having a good ‘ole time. My mom called on the phone crying, telling me Elaine had died. She had a fast growing cancerous tumor in her chest and was gone 2 weeks after finding out about it.
From that moment forward, I lived in fear of the “other shoe dropping,” thinking I was going to die when I turned 16, just like Elaine did. Further, I watched all of my caregivers grieving over the loss of this adored girl, the 4th and youngest child of my grandparents, the only daughter.
I Can’t Relax And Have Fun
I remember the funeral vividly. As a child, I had no real understanding of the body in the casket. I just knew that one day Elaine was alive and playing with me, telling me to give her and boyfriend Jim privacy, and the next day I saw her lifeless body lying in this pretty box. I saw my Grandpa die of a broken heart a few years later.
My Uncle Ray wrote a poem about his sister, which I cut out of a newspaper and kept. I would read it and cry frequently about Elaine. What I don’t remember is anyone ever sitting down with me and telling me what happened or trying to explain death. This would have been so helpful.
It would have helped me let go of the “fact” in my young mind that I was going to die in 10 years. I was truly scared of this and never spoke about it to anyone. This created the subconscious belief “I can’t relax and have fun–can’t live fully alive in the present moment–because I’ll be blindsided.”
Ironically, I was blindsided again when I lost my daughter, Maddie, in 2018 when she was only 22 years old of a cystic fibrosis exacerbation. That’s a story for another day. I don’t think I’ve fully accepted that fact yet.
Can You Relate? Have you lost someone you dearly love…yet?
Losing Our Looks As We Age
My bias is this is a bigger deal for women than men, because of the aforementioned belief that our worth is tied up in our looks. I will admit that I can be quite a vain person, and this doesn’t make getting older any easier. When being attractive is important to us, losing those looks can feel very scary. I always thought I had a pretty face, even if I was overweight.
In recent years though, one aspect of aging I don’t like is the loosening of skin, on the face and legs in particular. This is a vulnerable admission because I don’t want to be so shallow. I know I am more than my physical body, but my EGO self is very scared of any physical changes like this.
Growing Old Triggers Harsh Self-Judgment
Do you have an Inner Stickler like I do?
The thought of appearing wrinkly and old feels scary: “Will people not value me as much? Will they pity me? Will they not respect me as much?” Perhaps the bigger question is, “Will I not value myself as much?” When I’ve gained weight over the years, I’ve been pretty hard on myself. This is most likely my Stickler saboteur who thinks I should be perfect in appearance and in every way to be loved.
This Stickler is a mean, superficial, petty side of me and doesn’t treat me very well. I fear her stinging judgments. The good news is that I can quiet her voice and tell myself the truth, “You are beautiful at every age. The body is transitory. What is REAL about you is your essence which will live on long after your body has died. Your Creator loves a 100 year old person as equally as a newborn.”
My Grandma Radae Role Modeled Self-Disgust
Again, I have another imprint that I learned from my Grandma Radae (my dad’s and Elaine’s mom). She didn’t mean to inflict a painful belief upon me, but she did. I come by the vanity defect honestly.
My Grandma was very beautiful when she was young–people said she looked like Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind. She was about 5’2″, had curly dark hair and beautiful blue eyes. She had a small waist, legs and butt and a full bust. When she was 16, she was crowned Prom Queen at Worden High School in Illinois.
As she grew older, I can recall her words as if spoken yesterday. She’d often say in a raspy, disgusted voice, “Oh God! Look at my wrinkles. It’s hell to get old, Angela!” Or she’d roll her eyes, “I’m so fat! Oh my God! I look like I’m pregnant.” She was very dramatic about it all and it made an impression on me. The belief I adopted, “Oh my. Aging sucks.”
My Grandma took me to a diet club, Slim Talk, when I was 11 years old. We’d weigh weekly and then afterwards eat a Big Mac and fries at McDonalds to celebrate our efforts. On top of all of this, during my junior year in high school, I also was crowned Homecoming and Prom Queen, just like my grandma. Hence, my belief that I needed to be pretty and slim (which I wasn’t) to be loved was further engrained.
My Grandma Eller Taught Me Vanity
My Grandma Eller (mom’s mom) was also a very tiny woman of about 5’2″, a full-blooded Italian with dark wavy hair and brown eyes. She was attractive but not as beautiful as my Grandma Radae. She was always watching her food intake, being careful not to gain even 5 pounds. She wore very short shorts, even up into her 80’s, showing off her petite build.
One Thanksgiving, my Grandma Eller was making dumplings, dropping them one by one into the boiling chicken broth. I was grabbing an already-cooked dumpling with a toothpick before the main meal. My Grandma asked, “Angie, have you gained weight? Gotta be careful about that, honey. Don’t want to put on too much more.”
She thought absolutely nothing about that comment, but it always stuck with me. It made me feel that I was conditionally loved when I put on extra pounds. There is nothing wrong for a woman to be proud of her body. It’s body shaming others that crosses the line.
Have you felt insecure as you age physically?
We Have To Fight Harder For Our Health As We Age
I am not one to buy into the belief that we will lose our health as we age, but I do think we need to fight harder for it. I fully understand the power of our mind.
When I was 38 years old, I got lasic surgery on my eyes–prior to that I was blind as a batt. The doctor told me before the surgery, “Angie, I’m not discouraging you from getting this done, but you’re going to be 40 years old in 2 years, and people’s eyes begin to shift at that time. So the surgery may have a short-term benefit for you.”
I considered what he said, but decided right then and there in my mind, “I’m not buying into that belief. I’m ready to see clearly in my life and this surgery will stick.” And it has stuck. It’s been 15 years and I still have 20/20 vision.
However, I do believe we have to advocate for our health more as we age. We have less digestive enzymes and unless we pay attention to the types of food we eat (organic and non-gmo), we can be eating foods that create inflammation in the body. As I write this, I realize this is another belief that if I really wanted to believe something different that served me better, I could.
How We Think Greatly Impacts Our Health
At the end of the day, HOW WE THINK about aging is extremely important. We don’t have to buy into beliefs that make us afraid. I believe we have a huge capacity to keep our immune system healthy and not worry about all the “germs” out there.
If we take care of our thinking, our stress levels, and of our gut by avoiding antiobiotics (taking alternatives like colloidal silver instead), eating organic and non-gmo foods, avoiding gluten, drinking good water, etc., we can keep our immune system healthy and strong.
3 Steps For Gracefully Aging
There is much hope here. To gracefully age, written from the perspective of this 53 year old woman:
- Let’s honor death instead of resisting the idea of it. Death is a natural part of life. My bias is that death is a continuation of life but in another realm. It’s a mystery but maybe one we needn’t be so afraid of.
The Mexicans honor their dead with the Day of the Dead (November 1 and 2) which is a like a family reunion, except the dead are the guests of honor.
2. Let’s see our worth from a place of gratitude of being alive, rather than from a place of assigning our value from a place of vanity. Instead of resisting the gradual change in our appearance, what if we saw each wrinkle as a sign of wisdom and self-love for having the courage to live life and still be here?
3. Let’s create a new belief about what’s possible for the body. What if we stopped resisting all of the things we could be afraid of that will kill us and believe, “I am ready to receive a healthy and strong body, mind and spirit and trust in my body’s immune system to keep me strong. I am aging gracefully.”
If you are grieving someone you love, your youth, or your health, or you’re going through a divorce, please join me for my free masterclass coming soon.
I’ll teach you a technique to help you get in touch with yourself and calm your nervous system so you feel safe and supported.
Holistic Divorce/Loss Coach