One of the important tasks in later life is to
review the whole of our lives and to deal with unresolved issues. The following points are written from
a faith perspective (whether that be God, Allah, Tao, the
Source of All, and so forth – the terminology is not critical).
· It is the time to seek peace with God, with ourselves, and with others as we come to an ever deepening
understanding of God’s great mercy and unconditional love – which does not depend at all on either our
failures or successes.
· It is a time to offer our
feelings of regret and failure to God – and to know that we are forgiven and accepted.
· It is a time to offer hurts and
resentments to God and to find the healing that enables us to let them go.
· It is a time to seek reconciliation with others (although this may not always be possible) and, more
importantly, to forgive others for what we perceive they have done to us.
· It is also a time to accept ourselves and our life journey,
the choices we have made, what we have done, and not done.
· It is a time to offer our
intentions and deepest
desires to God and to trust that our lives are being woven into God’s good purposes.
· It is also a time for the
recalling of pleasant
occasions in our lives and this can bring a sense of well-being and of deep satisfaction.
· It is a time to be encouraged and
affirmed by recalling happy
days and times when we received love and respect, and by remembering the many different ways in which we have
contributed to the lives of others.
· It is a time of coming to a
deeper understanding of ourselves and seeing our life as a whole – and becoming aware of God at work within
us and of our role in being part of God’s purpose.
· Finally, and realistically speaking, there may also be times
when reminiscing results in despair and disgust,
rather than in integrity and peace.
D’Apice writes about how looking back on the journey of life becomes a prayer of reminiscence. She gives the
example of the two men walking to Emmaus and how Jesus comes to them in their sadness and confusion. Jesus
then explains to them the meaning and significance of his life, death, and resurrection as revealed in the
Hebrew scriptures. D’Apice suggests that those in later life also need to invite Jesus into their memories of
the past. It is he who will open up the scripture of our lives, will throw light into the dark recesses of
the past, and will show the gains which first appeared as losses.
Through remembering God’s presence and provision in the past, new courage and hope are
kindled. In fact, according to Fischer, “remembering is the biblical way of appropriating the past and the
basis of religious identity. At each key juncture in her life, Israel retold the story of what God had done
for her, how God had remained faithful in the midst of her infidelities, how God’s presence had sustained her
in times of trial. By remembering, she made God’s love present again with power. Out of these memories arose
new courage and hope that God’s promises would again be fulfilled. Like Israel, we also tell and retell our
stories, since they have levels of meaning that cannot be completely captured in a single
Source: Notes adapted from
- Mary d’Apice, Noon to
Nightfall (Dove: Australia, 1995) and Kathleen Fischer, Winter Grace (Nashville: Upper Room
Books, 1998). Both quoted in: Doreen Riddell, “Spiritual Direction with the Aging: Companioning People on the Journey to a Good Death”.
Available on the Internet at
Accessed January 9, 2010.
Photo credit: Intellimon