Two rocking chairs on a porch looking out at a forrest.

Face to Face with Mortality and Aging Parents – The Cycle of Life


By: Erin Laughlin

There are many pivotal points we must go through in our lives. Whether it is graduating from college and moving on into the “real world”, getting married and having kids, or taking on the role of caretaker where parents are concerned.  These are just a few major shifts in our lives that we all must deal with. While some shifts may be more challenging than others, they are all blessings as well as part of the cycle of life.


We have all heard about the cycle of life, but we never think about it until we are forced to. Every living being experiences their own life cycle from birth to spirit. Throughout our cycle we go through five main shifts. Birth, growth, maturity, death, and spirit. We start thinking about our life cycles when we are nearing death or, when someone close to us is about to. As we get older we realize our loved ones are aging along with us and they are not going to be around forever. Soon they will make the shift from maturity to death, and from there death to spirit.


Having to deal with an aging parent can be very challenging and very rewarding. It gives you the opportunity to reflect on our childhood and appreciate everything that our parents have done for us. However, it also is a sign that you not only have to face your parents’ mortality, but your own as well. The thought of losing parents can be very alarming, to the point where we find ourselves consumed with different emotions like depression and fear. This is where we should take a step back and appreciate the time we have left with them. That way when the time comes for them to make the shift, we will always have the positive memories of them.


Coming to terms with reality can be very difficult. Time moves so quickly it is hard for us to wrap our heads around the idea that our parents are nearing the end of their life cycles. Something that may help is talking to friends and family who are dealing with the same experiences. They can provide us with the support needed to get through these trying times and you might be able to provide them with they support they need. When a friend is there to give their undivided attention, it allows us to talk about ourselves and deal with the unresolved past and the future that is unfolding in front of us.


When we are face to face with our own mortality, it raises three different questions. “What have I done with my life so far?”, “What am I doing in my life?” and, “What do I want to do with the time I have left?”  These three questions not only make us think about the past, but also about what is happening in the here and now and, what will happen in the future. For some, these thoughts may be frightening, but to others it signals a time of renewal and rebirth. It is a time to reminisce on our individual pasts and our familial past.


Death is something that not a lot of people like to talk about. However, as we get older it is unfortunately something that we all must deal with. Coping with the loss of a loved one is difficult, every one handles it differently. But it is inevitable. It is the cycle of life. There is nothing we can do to prevent it. All we can do is make the most out of the time we have here, and enjoy the time we have with our loved ones.

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