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The grief of being forgotten

The grief of being forgotten

Posted: Thursday, November 13, 2008 8:56 pm
By: By Don Harold Lawrence

One day during my freshman year at Bethel College in McKenzie, while I was eating lunch at the local bowling alley, an elderly gentleman approached the table where I was sitting and asked if he could join me for lunch. After he sat down, he said that he was traveling from his home in Wisconsin to Florida to visit with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. As I listened, sadness and grief filled his voice as he described what had been happening in his life. He was retired and living in a small apartment because he was no longer able to maintain the house and property where he and his wife had lived for over 50 years. He described how his wife had been a victim of cancer and dementia, and, during the last few years of her life, she did not even recognize him. One of his daughters had also died with cancer.  At one time, he had been a very successful surgeon, had written a number of important and informative scholarly articles for professional journals and had been in great demand as a guest speaker at medical conferences and workshops. Numerous colleagues frequently conferred with him and sought his counsel and guidance. During his career as a doctor, he had pursued a rigorous and demanding schedule and had always striven for excellence in his work. Yet, the changes and losses in his life had been phenomenal and had created multiple grief issues. Not only had he experienced grief due to the death of his wife and daughter and the loss of his home, but he had also lost his ability to function in the work that had provided the purpose and meaning of his life. He said others had now taken his place, and he was now mostly forgotten and no longer important. He felt cast aside and useless. He referred to his present life as an “existence” and said he was now alone with only the memories of days gone by. Much of his depression was rooted in his refusal to adjust to the changes that had taken place in his life. He is only one of many people who choose to remain mired down in grief. On the other hand, there are countless individuals who have chosen to make the necessary adjustments to the changes and losses that have occurred in their lives. Further resources: “Learn to Grow Old” by Paul Tournier and “Your Sacred Self” by Wayne Dyer. AARP.org provides information on issues that are important to senior citizens. Don Harold Lawrence is coordinator of SUNRISE, which is sponsored by Shackelford Corporation. He may be contacted by mail at 145 Abernathy Drive, Adamsville, TN 38310-3001 or by telephone or fax at (731) 632-4483. His Web address is www.shackelfordfuneraldirectors.com. Published in The Messenger 11.13.08

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