My family, or one of the many reasons I became a gerontologist. I am the youngest daughter of older parents. It was in middle school I learned about life expectancy. Life expectancy is the average time a person will live, based on factors like gender and birth year. I remember calculating my parents would be dead longer in my life than they would be alive. A sobering thought for this teenager. At times of teen angst I would summon this fact up and “forgive” my parents for a wrong they committed. Other times I forgot and thought I had the worst parents everrrrr!
As a young adult I watched for signs my parents were aging. Though they aged they never appeared delicate. So it was with relief when my dad discussed his last wishes with me. Who I was to invite to the memorial. Who was to receive a card after the memorial. Who I was not to call. All in his address book neatly notated in color coded checkmarks. Thank goodness we had the talk the future are unknown.
Why Family Conversations Matter
Surprise, my father didn’t die first. My mother Joan died unexpectedly. One night in the wee hours of the morning she left this life. No plans had been made, no neat address book filled with directions. All that was left was a wounded family reeling with grief. That’s why family conversations matter. I remember thinking, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” So many questions left unanswered. So many life stories lost. Family conversations matter.
My father passed a few years later. A more eventful death that I will share later. It was a good death as things thing go. Time to prepare, rituals, and then his departure. A release from this world. There was grief, there was humor, and there was peace. Family conversations matter. Similar to the Prudential commercial none of us know about tomorrow. Have a family conversation for the wellbeing of your loved ones it matters.
Aging expert, author, and gerontologist Judi Bonilla is an advocate for empowered aging with over 15 years of experience in senior issues. She is a serial entrepreneur and has launched several startups including: Brain Fit Now! Encore 101 HQ, and We Get Around! The adult education startups emphasize “empowerment”– blending information, education, and actionable strategies.