I feel anxiety over death now that I’m in my 80s

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a man in my 80s. I’m feeling increasingly insecure even though my well-being and health haven’t changed.

Thirty years ago, I married my second wife, who was in her mid-20s at the time, and we have built a family of three with our daughter, who is now in her 20s. My wife and I are happily married and often eat out together. On holidays, I update a blog using my smartphone, tablet and other devices.

I do civil engineering work two or three days a week. Several years ago, I suffered a dislocated right shoulder in an accident. I have aftereffects of the injury, but I can handle a wheelbarrow and drive a dump truck. I recently had an operation for hearing difficulties and am now able to have conversations to some extent.

Over the past 15 years, my lifestyle and health conditions haven’t changed. But I came to realize I’ve passed the age of 80. It seems I’m now in the same age group as many people I hear about passing away. I feel very worried about when it will be my turn to face death.

How should I prepare myself mentally?

M, Hiroshima Prefecture

Dear Mr. M:

You, a man in his 80s, have asked for advice on how to live the rest of your life. Having read your message, I — a woman aged 86 — envy you and am lost for words after being overwhelmed by your vitality and efforts.

Despite hearing difficulties and other challenges, you’ve earned income with a civil engineering job and you make full use of information technology, even now in your 80s. You’ve been close to your wife, who is more than 20 years younger than you, and your daughter as well. I want to learn from your efforts to build such a life.

We spend the rest of our lives accepting and challenging our physical and mental conditions, which deteriorate inevitably. And we eventually end our lives with gratitude for the people around us. If you can do it, I think that is an ideal life.

Actually, I was born when my father was 50. Although there were more May-December marriages than now, and family lifestyles diversified at that time, I felt slightly awkward when I was young that my father was already an “old man” compared with others’ fathers.

However, my father took great pleasure in working in society to support our living at an old age until he died at 77. For me now in old age, such an attitude is my goal.

Your way of life would certainly become a great spiritual asset for your daughter.

Keiko Higuchi, critic

(from June 4 issue) Speech

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