Conscious Aging

Conscious Aging

Watching my parents die was one of the most difficult and painful experiences of my life. It was a modern-day tragedy, their conscious agingsuffering heartbreaking and unnecessary.  I watched, powerless to change a sickness of the mind, a fundamental commitment to their powerlessness.

We are all powerless over death, but we are not powerless over the way in which we approach our death.  As we choose better thoughts and attitudes, we begin to see them come to fruition with each choice we make.

At the time of my parents death, I was only beginning to grasp this concept. The fog was lifting but it was too late for me to help them. I was still in the grip of a lineage of powerlessness, even as I knew in my gut  that there was a different way. We were all products of our upbringing and for some a victim mindset is woven tightly into our DNA, put there before we really even had a choice.


My heart ached as I watched this mindset play out in two people I was born loving.  I watched in horror as they brought about the very conditions they feared and dreaded the most. They lived their worst nightmare, and lived their dying days watching everything they planned so meticulously to avoid play out just as they had envisioned it.

It wasn’t their physical suffering that was hard to watch minimal compared to many.  No, it was their unspoken belief that they didn’t matter, that only they could save themselves and that ultimately they were not worth anyone’s time.  In the end they lived their last years fighting a sense of hopelessness and helplessness.  Each, in their own way, was unable to break free from the mindset that could not create their way out.


It was then that I began to grapple in earnest with my own unanswered questions about life and death.  Untangling the mindset that created a lineage of mental and emotional suffering was my single goal, and I would separate out what was mine and what was theirs.  I had to break free.

I sought then and continue to seek today a deeper, richer understanding of and appreciation for the life/death experience. Traveling from a place of fearing life and death to a radical new place of hope, meaning and purpose has created within me a significant transformation.

If I have a choice, I do not want to die as they died, nor do I want to live as they lived.  I want to believe in possibility and hope as I live and die with strength and courage.  Of course, I have yet to test my new perspective and I do hope I have more time for it to ferment and strengthen, but I have changed.

During my fifth decade, I discovered a deeper connection to myself and to the creation of all things. I am unwilling to name  the source without source. To do so is, for me, too confining, too limiting, and subject to false interpretations. Yet, I feel a powerful presence, an energy upon which love and life and all that is good is founded and sustained. This power lives within us, between us,  around us and before us.  When we open to it, our course becomes clearer.  It is both me and not me. It is both the collective and not the collective.

I will never know what crossed my mother or father’s mind in their last moments. Perhaps they took the hand of their God and were no longer afraid. I hope that was true. Since that time, however, I have vowed not to live an un-lived life and not to die a meaningless death. Conscious aging is my goal and conscious living my ongoing quest.

© Dorothy Sander 2015




4 Replies to “Conscious Aging”

  1. You always plumb the depths of the real and true.

    Having experienced the death of Mother this past year and Daddy a long time ago, I know that both of them “took the hand of their God” in their final moments. I am confident death is just a separation and I will see them in the next life. Today is a beautiful day on Chincoteague Island, and I am determined to make the most of it Great reminder, Dorothy. Crossing the long Chesapeake Bay Bridge, I saw a sunset similar to your image.

    1. It’s so difficult losing our parents no matter what the circumstances. Chincoteague Island is such a beautiful place to be! An ever present reminder of all that is beautiful and good in this world.

  2. Dorothy, After watching my parents die, I too decided to take another look at what life is all about and how to make it a wonderful adventure. It is the connection to all that surrounds me in the natural world that brings me the peace I’m experienceing.

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