Question for older posters regarding feelings of mortality

You’re 37. You’re not old. :slight_smile:

I’m 66 and think about dying occasionally but it’s not really more of a concern now than it was 30 or so years ago for two basic reasons. One, I know it’s eventually going to happen and two, there’s really nothing we can do to prevent it so, why waste thoughts?

I’m 62. I don’t think about dying, but I am conscious that time is running out for me. I’m a childless widow and I don’t want to be alone for the rest of my life. I’d like to fall/be/stay in love at least one more time.

Just turning 57. I’ve been thinking about death lately because a number of people I know - mostly of my parents’ generation, but also one person of mine - have died in the past few months.

Since turning 50, it’s been a lurking thought in the back of my mind that more of my life is in the rearview mirror than remains in front of me. It does make me want to go out and do the things I really want to do, and not just let the time pass without getting much out of it.

One of those things I really wanted to do was be a father. My wife and I married when I was 37, but I was in grad school and then for several years we were in difficult job that left us with barely the energy to take care of ourselves, let alone a kid. And then once we got out of that situation, we had some miscarriages, and finally, a mere two years ago, adopted the Firebug, who is now three and a half years old.

The great joy of having this wonderful kid in my life is given a certain bittersweet edge by the knowledge that by the time he’s an adult, I will - at best - be in my last few years of vigorous adulthood: I’ll turn 80 when he’s 26. There’s a real limit, out there, to how many walks or hikes, how many bike rides, how much of anything active that I’ll be able to share with him. If I could have one wish in the world, it would be for more years of health and vigor to share with him, for him to remember me by after I’m gone. Now that I’ve got him, my soul begrudges how short the time with him will be.

But that short time is far better than none at all. The awareness of time closing in sooner rather than later does make me appreciate all the more the sweetness of having this wonderful laughing, growing boy in my life. I’m going to enjoy to the fullest the moments that we’ve got.

Just thought I’d dip back in to post: That ain’t necessarily so. MY boy’s godfather has made bieng in shape the top proirity in his life, as a result, at 60-ish he’s easily the most atheletic person I’ve ever encountered…despite (or maybe as a result of) the cancer battle he had earlier in life and some pretty traumatic back injuries.

Don’t worry that, at 80, you won’t be running marathons with your son. Concentrate on the now, take care of yourself, and the rest will take care of ITself.

Actor Tony Randall became a father VERY late in life. He married a young woman, was a wealthy man, lived in NYC, but he never seemed overly concerned about taking hikes and rollerskating with his kids. Nor did he seem overly concerned about dying before they grew up, he just enjoyed his family, late in life. I remember he was on a talk show, expressing amazement at this turn of events. He had been married to his first wife since WWII, and after she died, he remarried a young woman and became a father and he said: “it’s wonderful. It. is. SO. WONDERFUL!!! This is the best, the most marvelous thing that has ever happened to me, and I treasure every waking moment.”

(sniff…excuse me, I am actually tearing up…)

Now, that may sound selfish - “it’s all about MY happiness, who cares if I’ll die before the kids are in high school” - but the point is, even so, well, young men die, too. Or leave, or get divorced, or disabled. If there is love in a family, the love is the point…I know of a woman who has been in a wheelchair most of her life, who at age 40, against all odds, married and had twins. She can’t shuttle them around, take them to the park, spend an afternoon at the mall, or anything else, without someone to help. But she and her husband are overjoyed with their kids, and her not being a slim, pretty, athletic 20 year old yoga mom doesn’t seem to bother the kids. (at least not yet!) … Worrying you won’t be biking cross-country with your teenager is fruitless. Tony Randall sat his babies on his knee and enjoyed them (and of course left them well provided for, but with happy memories, I am sure!).

Not necessarily. The statistics you need to look at is life expectancy given that you have reached a certain age. The average for all doesn’t matter, since you’ve already outlived a whole bunch of people who brought the average down.

I’m 59, and I found a few years ago I had a heart condition, but I never had a heart attack or anything close to it, and I can treat it with a few pills a day. My father is 94, so I figure out I have a few more years left. Being in excellent health counts too. The little aches and pains and other stuff is a far bigger concern than worrying if I’m going to die next week - and not that big a concern either.

One of my good friends from college, my age (I’m 44) has been battling cancer for years. And now it’s back. He could live, he could die, hard to say.

One of my daughters has a friend whose father just last week died from cancer. At 8 years old that girl lost her father, and I just can’t imagine how that can work.

I’m not really afraid of dying, but I am scared for the people I’d leave behind. And when I look at my life and realize that I’ve got no more second chances. I’m never going to go back to graduate school and become a biology professor, or hitchhike across country hopping frieght trains, or be in a rock band. I’m never going to have more kids. I can’t even imagine losing my wife and starting over.

When you’re a kid as you get older, the universe of possibility gets wider and wider. You can choose anything. Then sometime in your 30s, the universe of potentialities starts to narrow again. Every choice you make precludes other choices. At first those other choices are merely postponed, but pretty soon postponing them much longer means postponing them forever. I’m happy with my life, but it’s odd to realize that this is it, this life I’m living now is the life I have, and it’s the only life I’m going to have.

I’m 55. Sure I’m aware that I am probably in the last third of my life, but so what? I’m at peace with God, and my family will be well provided for when I kick it. It’ll be hard on the family, but that can’t be avoided.

I’d rather die than be sick for a long time and bankrupt my family, or lose my mind with Alzheimer’s.

“Greatly please” is probably over-stating it, but I get what he means.


I guess my post was less clear than I thought! I’m not worried about it; it’s just that these are the things I like to do now, and have liked to do for decades, that I would have liked to share with my hypothetical kids for many years. However, now that the hypotheticals of 20 years ago have collapsed into the reality of now, I know quite realistically that that’s not going to be how it plays out.

I’m OK with that - if I wasn’t, we wouldn’t have adopted the Firebug in the first place. (It wasn’t like I couldn’t do arithmetic three years ago!) And the joy of being his father is like no other I’ve experienced.

But there’s a certain arc to most parent-child relationships. Over the first couple of decades, the parent raises the child to adulthood; in the second phase, with any luck, the parent-child relationship can mature into a warm relationship between more-or-less equals who genuinely enjoy each other’s company. And later on, the point comes when roles start reversing, when the children check up on the parents more frequently just to make sure everything’s OK, nothing bad has happened, but start thinking about the what-ifs in case it does.

I’m enjoying the hell out of this ride; even knowing that that middle part of the arc is going to be short, it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. But that still doesn’t mean I don’t really want that middle part to be as long as possible, and that I don’t wish it would be longer than the best-case scenario for what it’s gonna be. So I’ll take care of myself and keep fit as best I can, but I’ve seen my parents’ cohort age: after 80 it’s a crapshoot, no matter what you do. If I’m lucky, I’ll still be vigorous well into my 80s, but there’s a limit to how much I can affect the odds.

The fact that it’s wonderful means I want more, dammit. So I’m greedy. I admit it. There’s nothing to be done about it. :slight_smile:

Yeah, I’m already 60-ish (if 57 qualifies), but in very good shape for it.

I’m not worried; it’s just a fact of life. The middle part of the arc is going to be short. That’s inevitable. Hell, if I were a couch potato, there would be no middle part of the arc; I’d go straight from parenthood to senescence. But because I’ve kept myself fit all these years, and I’m likely to keep doing so, there’s likely to be a middle section of some duration.

But barring near-miraculous scientific breakthroughs, it’s not gonna last for decades, the way it did with my father and me. Five or ten years, if we’re lucky. Of course I wish there would be more.

Imagine you’re a single man* and that you met a woman with whom you connected totally. A beautiful person, inside and out, and you hit it off on every level from physically to spiritually. Astoundingly great sex, deep late-night conversations afterward, you love doing the same things, the whole nine yards. But right at the beginning, she told you that after a year, she was going to disappear from your life and you’d never see her again. And you knew this was the truth, and there was nothing you could do about it.

Would you still let yourself get involved with her for that year? I would. Would I wish with all my heart that it would last a lifetime instead of one year? Of course. But even knowing that it was going to be heartbreakingly short, I’d much rather have the year than nothing - but my heart would still want more.

That’s where I am with the Firebug.

Well into my 50s myself. I have an uncle about to turn 91. He still travels internationally and shows no signs of slowing down much. You just never know, so no sense fretting about it.

Sounds like a Lifetime Movie.

There’s the other end of this, too. My dad Died at 62, from multiple complications to an infection, exacerbated by imperfectly treated sports injuries from his youth. I was 35.

My Grandfather went on to die at 95…bitterly complaining all along that he had no friends (not true), sitting around doing literally nothing. (Not talking, not reading, not filling the hours with anything productive)

So at the time of their death, my grandfather had lived LONGER than my father, for a period of time that was longer than I had been alive. (Roughly…work with me here)

So there’s no telling how much time you’ve got, but there isn’t necessarily a downside to a short life. Had medical technology been able to keep my dad alive, he would have been a near vegetable, and the quality of life would SUCK. As it is, his quick and complete sickness was a blessing. It let him have a few good years of retirement with my mom, get the house set up the way they wanted, and didn’t leave her with insurmountable medical bills.

I’m 43. I’ve been fortunate, I guess. Other than allergies, I’ve never had any medical problems.

I don’t think about death. I think it would be pointless to do so.

I’m 63. My worry is (as others have said) not when but how; we’re currently dealing with my wife’s parents, both in their 90s, both with dementia, one in assisted living and one just now moved into a nursing home. Ugh.

I also sometimes think about it when I’m dealing with my one-year old granddaughter. Will I live to see her married? To see her children? Will I be strong enough in ten years time to take her on adventures? Etc.

I’m not even sure we’re having the same discussion - it really does feel like I’m saying A, yet people are hearing me say B - but this is concrete enough to respond to:

but there is, realistically speaking, an upper bound. Sure, I could be going on 10-mile hikes when I’m 90, but it’s lottery odds against.

You can think about death all you want after you die.

61 and bat-shit (dementia).

I think about it constantly it seems.

I resent that I’m in great physical health, but my mental health is deteriorating.

I’d like to die of old age, with my mind reasonably intact, so I’m hoping they’ll soon find a cure for this protein helmet that’s forming in my brain.

My wife has hung in there like a champ, but I sure don’t want to put her through having to change my diapers and deal with my mood changes, etc.

So yeah, I think about my mortality a lot.

The uncertainly of everything scares me to death (no pun intended).


I’m 50 and had a Bret Michaels-type “warning stroke” about a year and a half ago. My dad died about 4 years ago after several years of Alzheimers; this experience alone convinced me that record-breaking longevity is not something I really want. I’m not morbidly preoccupied with death; when it comes, I’d prefer it to be a complete surprise.

Body pain is a more immediate concern. When my knee blows out or I get a pinched nerve in my back or something, I worry that it won’t go away. But so far, it always has.

I take a mortal chance every time I venture out over here, as I could easily get creamed in the traffic. Just one example is that not one, but two (2) passenger vans plying between the suburbs and the inner city, which we took regularly when we lived out , have in the past few months taken a flying sail off the overhead Expressway and smashed onto the ground below. I personally have fallen off a bridge in the dark way upcountry and survived a bout of a particularly nast tropical disease. I’ve learned to live in the moment. Outside of laying down certain precautions of course, I’ll worry about death when the time comes. I have too many things to do in the here and now.

Shoot, a 23-year-old Kiwi tourist just died up North after eating some toxic seaweed from a market. You just never know, so no sense being preoccupied.