Mourning At Midlife

We always experience mourning when we leave some aspect of life behind (not just at midlife).  It is a normal, healthy process that permits adjustment to a new reality. Mourning allows us to review, make adjustments and move ahead. At midlife, our worlds may be changing.  The roles that we have played so diligently for years may now be outdated. Perhaps mothering has changed, maybe marital status has changed one way or the other, health may have changed, or relationships have changed. In order to feel anchored in the present, we have to relinquish these outdated ways of being.  When we let go – we mourn.  It feels like a loss. It is a loss. All change has a component of loss.

 In order to go forward, it is wise to review our lives, decide what roles, situations or relationships have to be set aside. Letting go can be frightening at first but it becomes very liberating.  At midlife, people may have to mourn dreams that never came true, expectations (realistic or otherwise), relationships, and images that we held about ourselves or about others. Less abstractly, we have to mourn the passing of our youth, aging or deaths of parents and loved ones, decisions made about children, and changes in health. It takes strength to mourn. 

 How do we mourn? We loosen the attachment to the person, idea or dream. It happens in a million ways. One person may mourn the career that never was, the child that wasn’t conceived, the relationship that was a disappointment, the health problems that proved limiting.  Certainly, at midlife, we say good-by to youth.  We aren’t old but we are no longer young. Mourning means that we withdraw our attachment/energy/love from that person, idea or dream. We free that energy for other pursuits.  If we do not mourn and let go, we will be stuck to a futile situation. Mourning means that we face reality and, in doing so, we become freer to the face our future.

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