Sandy Cohen, R.N., B.A., Roger Cormier, M.A., M.Th.

  Like the other seasons, autumn and aging evoke different associations, anticipations and feelings for different people.                                                                                                                                            
   In autumn the intensity and vibrancy of summer morph into the coolness and dormancy of fall. Leaves burst into bright, fiery colors, fall from trees after losing their life-giving chlorophyll because of inadequate sun, and then begin their transformation back into the soil from which they will contribute to the next season’s new life. Their trees begin preparing for the darkness before the dawn of spring with new life and growth.

  Our perspectives and attitudes call the shots on how we feel about autumn and aging. Some of us focus on what is lost more than what is gained. For example, the warm weather, full  trees and beds of flowers; or youth, child rearing, career engagement.                                                                                            

  Others tend to relish the transformations that occur and the new, greater life in the seasons that follow fall/winter and middle to old age. For example, thrilling to the fall colors and welcoming the needed light that brightens our homes through leafless tree structures; or the opportunities to give and discover as grandparents, retirees, engaged volunteers, spiritual practitioners.

  Most of us try to balance our mixed feelings about the losses and transformations of autumn and aging. As deciduous trees go naked, we may notice the beauty of evergreens and pay more attention to fall- and winter-blooming plants.

  As interest in our career wanes, we discover other work or volunteer ways to contribute that may be filled with greater excitement, discovery and satisfaction. Once we grieve some losses associated with the march of time, we may finally have real leisure time, savor more sleep, pursue a hobby interest, meet more people of common interests, explore other worlds through travel, and hang out more with family.

  When we feel stuck in the barrenness and chill of autumn or the losses and fears of advancing age, it is time to draw on life-giving sap that survives fall and winter, aging and decline. It is time to turn to trusted friends, family, counselor or spiritual adviser for understanding and support to await and welcome harbingers of spring and familiar or unexpected new life.