The Mortality Club

FAVORITE QUOTATIONS ABOUT AGING AND DEATH

May 29, 2016

Tags: change, death, clinging

Here is my favorite quotation of the day:

"Accepting that life is change, and nothing is permanent can be liberating. Death gives us a gift in waking us up to that reality, and in inspiring or even enabling us to give up grasping and clinging desperately to those people and things that we falsely believe define us.”

from the Hourglass

GROWING OLD: A CURSE OR A GIFT?

May 29, 2016

Tags: aging, dying, death, growing old

Mindsets toward Aging and Mortality
At today’s meeting of the Mortality Club, I would like to talk about the different attitudes or mindsets we have about growing old. Some of us, the Stargazers, would prefer to deny that they are aging. They try to surround themselves with younger people. When they look in the miror, they see their younger selves.

Confident of their own capabilities, Celebrants manifest a persistent “can do” attitudeThey are energized people who embrace each day enthusiastically. Adept at finding the silver lining in even the darkest cloud, Celebrants remain optimistic even in the face of aging. The celebrate cataract surgery because it frees us from the need to wear glasses. They call their pacemaker their buddy, and focus on it as a welcome life-saving device.

The hallmark of the Warrior is courage, or tenacity in the face of fear, and strength in the face of pain. Warriors feel empowered, in control and confident, and ready for battle. They are convinced that they will be able to meet the challenges and overcome the obstacles that are on the horizon. That includes aging. They exercise like crazy and adhere to stict diets in order to force their aging bodies to perform like they did when they were younger.

Like shipwreck survivors, Castaways expect to be thrown about or even battered by life. Aware that nature can be punishing and that every life ends in death, they anticipate misfortune. Castaways accept Buddha’s first noble truth, “Life is suffering.” They understand that aging is a curse against which they have no antidotes. They console themselves with the reminder that it is better than the alternative––dying.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could look at getting old through the lens of the Sage? Sages manage to transcend the boundaries of their own ego, experiencing a sense of being connected to all other living things. Sages are resilient, and able to bounce back each time they receive disturbing news. Because of their realism, they know when it is time to surrender. Blending the best characteristis of the other mindsets, the Sage regards getting old as a gift rather than as a curse. (more…)

BLUE INK WEIGHS IN ON THE HOURGLASS

May 24, 2016

Tags: aging, death, dying, mortality, book review

Blue Ink Review May, 2016
Written in an attention grabbing narrative style, The Hourglass: Life as an Aging Mortal is the culmination of Cuming’s unwitting journey to face and accept death’s inevitability.

In The Hourglass, 71-year-old Cuming shares a wealth of stories about friends, family members and acquaintances: the 90-year-old “queen” — a diva who demanded more and more as she aged; Cuming’s personal struggle to support her mother while maintaining her marriage, her writing and her sanity; close friends determined to die with dignity.

She also offers well researched advice on avoiding negativity, understanding doctors and their widely diverse bedside manners, and feeling healthier as seniors.

Overall, The Hourglass is an enlightening, sometimes even buoying, read that sheds light on a topic many of us deny or ignore. As the author reminds us when health problems arise and her daughter insists she move closer, even in death—especially in
death—it is vital to respect our differences: “For my life to be meaningful, I have to write my own story as I want it to be told.”

GROWING OLD by Gordon Nimmo

May 21, 2016

Tags: elderly, growing old, soul, after death, dying

Gordon Nimmo, a New Zealander whom I met while taking a cruise up the Danube, told this about his life. "I had to laugh when, five years ago, one of our granddaughters' friends at school said to me -- ( she was 5 at the time ) -- What is wrong with your
face ?? -- I said, I don't really know, -- has it got a red mark or
something ?? -- She said no, -- Its got cracks all over it !!-- Oh dear Oh
dear. That prompted me to write a story about how it feels to grow old."

GROWING OLD.

A few years ago, one of my Grandchildren innocently asked me what it was like to be old, and due to the fact that I had not, at that stage considered myself to be elderly in any way, I had some difficulty in answering the question. To say it was good, or not so good did not seem to me to be an adequate answer, and since then I have given considerable thought as to what would be more suitable and to the point.

The way I see it, growing old can be reasonably well compared with a situation where on one side of a street stands a line of people of varying ages from young to old, and on the other side, a street of houses with the same variations in age. The young people are in the newer houses and the old folk in the older ones. (more…)

Launching the virtual Mortality Club.

May 15, 2016

Tags: aging, dying, death, mortality, death cafe

In the final chapter of The Hourglass: Life as an Aging Mortal, I introduced the Mortality Club. With this post, I hope to launch the club as a place where people can come together in a virtual world to talk about aging and about dying. Writing about aging and mortality has been a healthy and life-affirming experience for me. I believe talking with others about the experience of being mortal can have a similarly beneficial effect. I agree with the mythologist Joseph Campbell who said, “The conquest of the fear of death is the recovery of life's joy. One can experience unconditional affirmation of life only when one has accepted death, not as contrary to life but as an aspect of life.”

I envision our virtual meetings as open and honest conversations about our fears, our hopes, our struggles, our wins and our losses, and the ways we cope as we grow older and death draws nearer. I'll begin by introducing myself. (more…)

Selected Works

Psychology/Aging and Dying
In youth we are invincible. The world is forever: we are forever. But, sentient creatures that we are, time inevitably plays its part. Aging and illness shadow those early sensibilities until one day we feel the lurking presence of death itself. Fearful of our own dark thoughts, too often we keep such anxieties to ourselves. To deny our own mortality is a parlor game of sorts, played within our own heads and frequently played alone. Pamela Cuming will have none of it. In her latest book, The Hourglass, she throws back the parlor curtains and lets the light stream in. This is a powerful, objective, unflinching, and yet profoundly empathic work that explores the rewards of honest caring⎯the privilege and the pain⎯not only for one’s friends and family but also for one’s self. Drawing upon an uncanny intuitive understanding of human foible plus a broad knowledge of character development, honed from decades of consulting in the business world, this is a book filled with personal stories both engaging and instructive. In short, The Hourglass is a must read for all those who seek to live life to the full, from start to finish. ________________ Peter C. Whybrow MD, Director of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Beavior at UCLA and award-winning author of The Well-Tuned Brain: Neuroscience and the Life Well Lived.
Fiction: Publication Date Nov 14, 2014
Set in New York City and Los Angeles between August 1999 and November 2001, The Stranger Box is the story of a mother and a daughter caught like two white dwarf stars in separate orbits, destined to collide. Though she does everything in her considerable power to insure the child never finds out who she is, the vain and self-obsessed Katherine Blair is unable to change the course of her destiny or evade Eden, the resourceful daughter whose pursuit is fueled by the desire for revenge and the determination to steal the family that has been denied her.
Memoir
Widow’s Walk is a bold, brave, and candid admission of bereavement, weakness, and, ultimately, strength.
Nonfiction
A strategic guide to organizational and personal effectiveness
Turf is a direct, and sometimes disturbing book about the use and abuse of power in organizations.

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