Recently I have been assisting a couple with the question of what the next step in their life is. Both are healthy and in their mid to late seventies. They invited me to discuss: Travel for 6 months? Sell the house? Keep the house? Rent an apartment? Buy a condo? Go to a retirement residence?
The world is out there to discover and it is filled with options and choices that are quite overwhelming.
What steps should we do first? Sell some furniture first? Or even sell all of it and start fresh? If we sell what type of condo/apartment /residence should we visit and in what part of the city or perhaps some other part of the world? Look into passports and paperwork to leave the country for good? Where do we start?
Huge questions. The questions are coming all at once and are blurring visions all around.
What is interesting with this couple is that for years she has been planning and working towards a certain goal: being away from home half the year, while her partner saw it and heard it as only a dream on her part. She is ripe and ready for the next step, he is not and has some catching up to do. They have no children, nor any family members close by. Another question they are discussing is splitting up as a couple.
All these big questions is what I deal with regularly and through conversation we explore different options and then develop a plan of attack. The biggest difference in this situation, for me, is that there are no children involved. Often, in the background before I get involved, there is an ongoing conversation, encouragements, push or pull this way or that way from different family members. With this couple I am witnessing a different type of questioning, different type of venting in my presence that I do not often see. I truly enjoy the whole process and journeying with them. There are many emotions that they share with me, due to my openness I believe: frustrations, insecurities, strengths, determination, disaccord, love, despair, helplessness, desires and the quest for adventure. It fascinates me and it is a support that I am really comfortable with, there is not one minute where I feel like it is work. They are helping me to see what life is and in a sense coaching me.
There seems to be no one who is creating a buffer, someone to bounce ideas off of for this couple. As life progresses and the big question of where should we ‘move to next?’ which involves looking at unaccomplished but still attainable dreams, struggles between 2 individuals, personal desires and fears of the unknown, the details of personal wishes as we near the end of our life is very heavy and emotionally loaded. This stage is challenging when there is one person to assist, even more challenging when there are 2 people due to compromises and different wishes. These two individuals have helped me realize that in my line of work children or no children plays that much more of a bigger role/impact.
We all need a sounding board to help us verbalize what we are thinking and to help us ask questions out loud to help guide us through major decisions. More than ever this childless couple made me realize how important a sounding board is and that there is a need to vent without being judged on behalf of seniors when they start entering one of their last chapters in life and never to be forgotten that upcoming chapter is still filled with lots of life and the desire for adventures as well as growth.