We are born, and our world begins to expand. Nurses and doctors, parents and siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
Our world grows as we learn to speak, read and write. We attend school. We acquire friends, co-workers and neighbors. We travel.
We may marry and have children and grandchildren. We volunteer in our communities.
And then, for most of us, after many decades, our worlds begin to contract.
We no longer go to work. We stray less from home as various debilities affect our mobility.
Sometimes we leave our familiar homes and neighborhoods to live with family members or in specialized facilities.
We have less energy for things that once interested us. We may become seriously ill, and doctors predict that the end of our lives are near. They encourage us to "get our affairs in order."
Our world shrinks to doctor visits, hospice nurses, and our closest loved ones.
It is not that the events of our earlier years no longer matter, though, because they shaped who we became and created the web of family and social relationships that we inhabit.
But the possibility of learning and growth remains with us.
It is because of the unique perspective offered during this final phase of life that many of us discover a broader sense of purpose and meaning.
We seek confirmation that our lives mattered. We want to be truly known by family members and friends. We restore and repair relationships when we can.
We seek to understand the arc of our lives and to acknowledge the people and events that shaped us. These are the gifts that those of us near the end of our lives give ourselves and loved ones, gifts that often resonate across generations.
This blog entry was written by Dennis Sparks, Arbor Hospice Volunteer. You may contact Dennis by commenting below or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.