There are many different life changes that can prompt us to think about our legacy, and how we want to spend our last chapter. Sometimes it is sparked by entering retirement and wanting to rethink your purpose and daily life plan. Other times it is because we receive a difficult health diagnosis that causes us to think about what legacy we will leave behind. Or it may be sparked by a significant birthday, reminding us of our age and making us contemplate our life’s goals.
One thing that is universal is that everyone wants to feel purposeful in their life. This looks different for each person, but the feeling behind it remains the same. To imagine our future purpose, we can start by looking back on our life and our accomplishments.
Often, we do not even recognize the beautiful contributions we have each made in our lives until we re-tell our stories. The way we think about and tell our story can change the level of satisfaction we feel. Looking back and doing this life review process can greatly affect our life satisfaction. And, in turn, it helps us think about what we want in our next years.
Erik Erickson, a famous and respected psychologist, developed a theory that there are 8 stages of human psycho-social development. The final stage is when older adults review their life. They will either feel that it has been well-lived, bringing a sense of peace and satisfaction (integrity). If they don’t feel they’ve experienced a life well-lived, the person may feel a sense of despair.
However, Dr. Erickson also stated that the process of reviewing one’s life allows the opportunity to integrate the past to be able to come to peace with the present. In other words, despair is never inevitable, but something that we each have the power to change. His theory was clear that it was never too late to use a life review to feel peace with your present and create a feeling of satisfaction with your life.
Senior Concerns is presenting a free 3-part seminar via Zoom titled “Shaping Your Last Chapter. “It will be presented jointly by Teri Helton, the Chair of the Ventura County Compassionate Care Coalition and an experienced hospice nurse, and Reverend Kate Lewis who is the Spiritual Care Manager at the St. John’s Hospitals.
These two speakers have a breadth of experience between them working with patients and families at end of life. They have seen firsthand what people talk about and care about in their final days. This experience shapes their feelings on what it means to live a meaningful life.
The first part of the series takes place on January 11th from 2-3pm and is called “You are Wiser Than You Think.” It will focus on recognizing and embracing the spiritual gifts of aging and how to examine your life’s purpose and meaning. The second part on January 25th will focus on creating your legacy and appreciating your own life’s story. And, the final third part on February 8th will more specifically look at how to ensure your end-of-life wishes are honored.
You can register for each of the three parts online at https://www.seniorconcerns.org/seminars/
We have the ability to shape the way we tell our story and the way we feel about our present. Think about how you want to shape your last chapter, and what will provide you life satisfaction.
Martha Shapiro can be reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at email@example.com