They say there are stages of grief. Some of those stages include denial, depression and acceptance. But one that many of us experience is anger. While we most often associate grief with the emotions when a loved one passes away, we can go through grief about a lot of things. People go through grief when their house burns down or when they lose a job or a pet. An area of loss that we don”t often lump in with grief causes is the physical decline of aging.
You can detect that you or senior citizens you know are experiencing grief from their loss of youth from comments they make. It is common to hear them look back with remorse at lost youth and with the loss of functionality and strength that happens when we age. As a senior citizen sees their strength decline and perhaps go through one of the many natural ailments of aging such as arthritis or problems with elimination, it is not uncommon to see a response of anger result from their impatience with these problems.
Nobody asked to get old. And I am sure that if we could put it to a vote, aging would lose the election to continue to be part of our lives. As much as senior citizens hate to grow old, your loved ones hate to see it happen to you. And while you as senior citizen may not see it happen, your family is grieving the loss of the “young mom or dad” as much as you are.
The problem with being angry about growing old is there is nobody to take it out on. The result is often we lash out at those closest to us because the frustration with our aging bodies causes our temper to flare up spontaneously and a loved one or caregiver is the one who is handy to get mad at. You know this isn”t fair and when it happens, you are sorry. So it would be good with finding ways to cope with the anger about aging in a productive way.
This kind of coping is necessary so you don”t lash out at the innocent. But it is also healthy for you to learn to cope with the aging process because stalling out in the grief process will create tension in your emotional system, which can cause physical problems such as ulcers or problems sleeping. So how do we get rid of the anger we naturally feel at seeing our bodies decline?
A wise man once said that we get angry because of a false sense of entitlement. It comes when our expectations do not line up with reality. A false sense of entitlement comes when we come to the conclusion that we do not deserve to get old. The best way to confront and put aside that sense of entitlement is to recognize it. It seems simplistic to just come out and recognize that everybody grows old and we are not entitled to be exempt from the changes that come with aging. But if you can recognize that consciously, it will help take anger out of the loop when you are coping with the affects of aging.
Resolution of grief comes when our expectations line up with reality. The attempt to deny the advance of years is the sole cause of midlife crisis in your younger days and that emotional response to aging can create devastating results as the one in crisis tries to behave as though they are not growing old and make bad decisions based on that concept.
So too, if you can recognize that these problems are the natural result of aging and the best thing to do is to take care of yourself to try to minimize their impact, you will live with a much healthier attitude toward aging. By focusing on your diet, your exercise, a wise use of substances and doing all you can to stay rested and emotionally sound, you will see the negative effects of aging become minimized. Moreover, you will be a happier person and that shift in your emotions can go a long way toward keeping you young at heart. And that is the best way to turn back the effects of aging from the inside out.
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