While celebrating her 66th birthday earlier this year, Maria Shriver had a revelation about the loss of her mother and that of getting a year older. Instead of feeling the passing of the years that have gone by, she reflected on the joy and hopefulness of what the future could bring.
Aging Helped Shriver With The Loss Of Her Mother
Shriver was inspired to publish her thoughts in Oprah Insider!, and shared how she went from viewing the aging process as a loss to viewing it as a gift.
Of her changing view, Shriver said: “This was the first birthday since my 20s that filled me with joy and hopefulness for what was to come rather than a sense of loss of my youth.”
She compared the passing of her mother with the loss of the past we feel as we get older. “What I’ve realized is that the more comfortable I can get with grief, the better.” Of the loss of her mother, she said: “It’s helped me understand grief just a little bit better, which helps me face all kinds of losses—people I love, opportunities that pass me by, old identities that used to serve me—with more strength and even a sense of wonder.”
In the essay, Shriver explained what she learned and how she is using that knowledge to rewrite the narrative about aging in our country. Here’s a peek at some of the ways she is trying to do that, and how you can, too.
Rewriting The Narrative About Aging
Ditch the term “anti-aging”. Instead of trying to look younger, Shriver urged us to focus on the things that make us feel good about ourselves exactly as we are. “The old storyline about aging—how we need to “fix” ourselves or do everything in our power to look the way we did when we were in our 20s and 30s—needs a major revise.”
Embrace extra time and make the most of it. Shriver inspired us to spend our time doing something we feel is meaningful and inspires us. “Now that I’m not building my day around carpool plans and parent-teacher conferences, I’m building things I didn’t have a chance to build before and doing things that spark my curiosity—things I hope will change the conversation.”
Think of aging as a gift, rather than something to fear. Shriver reminded us that age shouldn’t prevent us from learning new things and taking chances. “I believe one of the keys to feeling like aging truly is a gift is to continue to stay curious, try new things, and not let the number of candles on that birthday cake prompt you to say no more than yes.”
Remember that how you think about aging has a direct impact on how others may think about it, too. Shriver reminded us to do our part to reshape how others see aging. “The way I see it, we can either grieve the loss of our youth and inspire our young people to feel sad as they get older, too—or we can reframe how we think about aging so it’s something that ignites excitement and hope for our future.”
You can read more of Shriver’s essay and how she is using her new outlook to rewrite the narrative about aging in our country In Oprah Insider!