A Life Complete explains how the choices we make in midlife can become distilled and irreversible by the time we reach our last years. Having worked intimately and rewardingly with countless people in the last years of their lives, psychological counselor and ordained minister Sallirae Henderson offers a practical plan for healing in middle age so we can avoid elderly regret, unexpressed grief, and unresolved spiritual issues before it's too late. In a culture that ranks the fear of living in a nursing home above the fear of death, this book serves as a reminder that the end of life is also an organic part of life. It is an indispensable guide for those seeking to grow old gracefully, with a sense of meaning and purpose.
Breaking new ground in the literature on aging, this powerful book teaches six emotional and spiritual skills necessary for finding purpose and contentment in our later years:
• BEFRIENDING YOURSELF LEARNING TO GRIEVE • RECOGNIZING THAT YOU ALWAYS MAKE A DIFFERENCE • MAINTAINING A SENSE OF PERSONAL EVOLUTION • FINDING A LARGER CONTEXT FOR YOUR LIFE • ACCEPTING THE HELP OF OTHERS
Sallirae Henderson combines her vast personal and professional experience with a wide range of anecdotes guaranteed to strike a chord with readers from all walks of life. A Life Complete also serves as an excellent reference tool for analysts, psychotherapists, and both personal and professional caregivers. It is a remarkably timely book.
Are Americans prepared for their last, physically limiting years, when they may be disabled or chronically ill? Can preparing for death transform their final years from a time of depression, despair or numbness to an affirming experience of courage and creativity? Henderson, an ordained minister and psychological counselor who has worked with many elderly people, offers rather murky guidelines for coping with this transition. Her advice ranges from the practical (make younger friends so you won't feel so bereft when contemporaries die) to the inspirational (have a working faith in God). At times her prose is mired in abstract verbosity. Instead of calling what follows life "death," she calls it a state of completion, and suggests that once we recognize our "destination," that can "help us discover and evolve the values that will realign us when we are in danger of wavering from our desired course." In the book's first section, which deals with emotional preparation for aging, Henderson exhorts readers to define their identity and worth. Learn to let go, she says, and adjust to changed circumstances; face the reality of loss by finding ways to make a difference. A chapter on Alzheimer's disease, although enlightening, seems out of place in this section. The next section, addressing spiritual preparation, is shorter than the one on emotional preparation because, Henderson notes, "the mind is the seat of language, and spirituality... is a function of the heart." Henderson's sincerity and feeling are evident, but her uneven writing and a lack of clarity hamper the message.