This article follows a previous one, highlighting concerns experienced from birth to adulthood.
As the midlife years commence the growing concern is for meaning in life; not just “what have we achieved?” but “what purpose do we have?” Family concerns become more fully formed as our children grow and gradually become adults themselves. At this stage we might be on our third or fourth career. Work seems, perhaps, a little less important. Life is a little more balanced, or it least the concern for balance receives more hearing. About this time there is a concern for change-of-life; both genders, male and female, are involved. This is not just a physical process.
The later midlife years can be seen, by many, as the best years of life. Concern has transformed again from the direct concerns of one’s own life to the superintending concern, for instance, in grandparenthood. With an indirect level of concern within the family there are direct concerns for health; cancer is an obvious threat. Ill-health and more acquaintance with the medical fraternity, perhaps, become the norm. We begin going to more funerals than weddings.
The senior years can be a real mixed bag, as is life in general. The need of the senior – their primary concern – is now family. As life swings full circle the nurture of family and the needs of harmony are crucial now. Health, again, is the overriding concern. How much more life can be extracted? Are great-grandchildren a possibility, and, can they be enjoyed? Is there a last opportunity to do those things we wish to do before incapacity overcomes us? These are also the evaluative years: how well have our lives stacked up? Hopefully we will not be too cruel in our assessment; kind enough to understand we did the best we could with what we had.
Old-age is the place of withering and shrivelling, as the person prepares to become one with the earth (physically) and at one with eternity (spiritually). The concern is preparation for death, and this concern is shared, in different ways, for the person and their family affected. Children of the old-aged bear the burden of their parents if they are responsible and loving, just as their parents bore the burden of their children if they were responsible and loving. The family dynamic is the key concern. There are results sprinkled all through the continuum from full support to total neglect.
When death comes concerns, of this life, end. Yet, there is always a concern left behind. The one that loves will think of these concerns left behind and leave what legacy they can.