A Life Complete: Finding Peace and Purpose at Midlife

Sallirae Henderson, Author
Sallirae Henderson, Author Scribner Book Company $24 (224p) ISBN 978-0-684-83775-8
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000
Release date: 08/01/2000
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-7432-0036-3
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Are Americans prepared for their last, physically limiting years, when they may be disabled or chronically ill? Can preparing for death transform their final years from a time of depression, despair or numbness to an affirming experience of courage and creativity? Henderson, an ordained minister and psychological counselor who has worked with many elderly people, offers rather murky guidelines for coping with this transition. Her advice ranges from the practical (make younger friends so you won't feel so bereft when contemporaries die) to the inspirational (have a working faith in God). At times her prose is mired in abstract verbosity. Instead of calling what follows life ""death,"" she calls it a state of completion, and suggests that once we recognize our ""destination,"" that can ""help us discover and evolve the values that will realign us when we are in danger of wavering from our desired course."" In the book's first section, which deals with emotional preparation for aging, Henderson exhorts readers to define their identity and worth. Learn to let go, she says, and adjust to changed circumstances; face the reality of loss by finding ways to make a difference. A chapter on Alzheimer's disease, although enlightening, seems out of place in this section. The next section, addressing spiritual preparation, is shorter than the one on emotional preparation because, Henderson notes, ""the mind is the seat of language, and spirituality... is a function of the heart."" Henderson's sincerity and feeling are evident, but her uneven writing and a lack of clarity hamper the message. (Aug.)
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