There's so much shame in the western culture around aging and death. People themselves when they're aging feel that there's something wrong with them and they're losing value.
For many of us, a sense of failure and shame accompanies sickness and death. This is even apparent in the language we use to describe disease (for instance, "He lost his battle to cancer"). This shame can actually become a way of hiding and avoiding confrontation with the reality of our situation -- it helps us to avoid asking the tough questions (How am I going to age? How many years do I have left? How will I cope with these changes in my body?). We need to get more interested and more curious about how it is to be where we are now.
'Our inability to meet the change that is constantly taking place is the cause of suffering', and a recent study confirmed its truth. Researchers at Deakin University in Australia found that the ability to accept what can't be changed was a major predictor of life satisfaction among older adults living in residential care.
When faced with death, many people say that they learn for the first time what it really means to love -- and that the relationships they've created are the most important things in their lives.
When they were dying, it was really about whether the people in their life loved them and knew that they were loved by them. So many of us are running, running, running; achieving, achieving, achieving, and then when it comes down to it, it's really about the relationships and about loving. It's about learning how to love yourself and the world.