It’s Not the Age That Matters

We tend to qualify our sadness for someone’s health condition based on their age, as if getting a few more years out of life means you deserve a little less empathy and sympathy. But it’s not the age that matters. It’s the life that is lived despite the diagnosis.

As your loved ones age, you start to hear from others, “at least she lived a good life,” in response to a diagnosis or the health problems that old age bring along. If your loved ones make it past ninety years old, you start to feel like they are living on borrowed time and any diagnosis is inevitable.

But some diagnoses just knock the wind right out of you.

I recently learned that my grandmother—the matriarch of our family—has been diagnosed with a progressive neurological disease. To see those words in an email, relating to someone I love so dearly, shook me to my core. And it so happens that through my work I have developed a very good working knowledge of this disease and met some of the top researchers studying the disease.

We tend to qualify our sadness for someone’s health condition based on their age, as if getting a few more years out of life means you deserve a little less empathy and sympathy. But it’s not the age that matters. It’s the life that is lived despite the diagnosis.

Somehow, my grandmother figured out how to live on this earth well into her 90’s and you know what she is doing in light of this diagnosis? Continuing to plan her 100th birthday, still a few years off, and inviting all of her new doctors to the party.

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