Women of 50, It’s Time We Woke Up! Talking About Death Now Won't Make Us Die
Announcing My New Mentorship Program For Women 50+ To guide You Through Accepting the Unavoidable
Every day we’re barraged with dozens – if not hundreds – of ads for cosmetics, programs, self-help methods, and surgical procedures telling us how to prolong the appearance of our youth. ‘This cream will restore your youthful glow!’ ‘You’ll feel like you’re 35 again!’ ‘Have you thought about doing a little nip and tuck?’
Few companies celebrate (or even acknowledge) the beauty and inevitability of aging. Certainly, no companies that I know of ever bring up the numerous benefits of embracing aging and making peace with the one thing none of us can avoid – death.
Though it wasn’t always like this, you and I live in a time where death is feared, shunned, never to be spoken of lest it hears our words and comes to collect. Many of my contemporaries have learned this fear so well that they’ve let it direct their lives, whether consciously or not. At one point, I did too, until I decided that enough was enough. We are in desperate need of a change in perspective – to preserve our mental and emotional well-being, and to allow us to fully live our lives well until the end.
Fear In The Form Of A Mid-life Crisis
While the fear of death is an entirely normal part of the human condition, it should not prevent us from aging well. The majority of people usually only exhibit low to moderate levels of anxiety – nowhere near the severity of thanathophobia, a form of death anxiety so intense that it should be addressed in psychotherapy. Even so, minor anxieties have the potential to greatly affect the way we behave and have very physical symptoms. Here is why I believe this to be true.
Did you know that there is clear evidence that women tend to be more afraid of death than men, with such fears resurfacing in their 50s? This has been intriguing me a lot lately, since I am in that age group and have been studying thanatology for the past 4 years.
Yes, it’s true, I had noticed that many of my peers struggled with self-image, identity crisis, soul searching, fear of loneliness, and mild depression. We’ve been told for so long that “those mood swings” were normal after all! But what if our fears and our age were related?
Digging further into the neurosciences, I found groundbreaking evidence of a direct link between Alzheimer’s disease in women and menopause. Women are actually bearing a disproportionate amount of the Alzheimer’s burden; with currently 3.2 million women living with Alzheimer’s in the U.S. out of 5 million people.
Researchers are now questioning whether the risk of dementia could actually be higher for women at any given age due to biological or genetic variations or differences in life experiences. There could be some genetic reasons that can’t be controlled, but, according to Dr Lisa Mosconi, director of the Weill Cornell Women’s Brain Initiative in New York City, a research program aimed at reducing Alzheimer’s risk, “Alzheimer’s is not a disease of old age, it’s a disease of middle age, with in reality, the brain changes starting in mid-life.”
Yes, you heard it well: menopause transition is the time for women to pay extra attention to their holistic and spiritual being. Doing so has the potential to help us get more control over our lives and age better.
So let’s talk about it now. I believe that the sooner we start changing our perspectives, the better. Let’s talk about our fears that are real, about what we can do for our brain, body, and spirit. Let’s educate ourselves on how to deal with life changes as well as the inevitable - death. Shall we? Because what we can learn is invaluable. A little investment now, to prevent huge expenses and huge stress and burden on our loved ones later on.
Here is how I can guide you through Accepting the Unavoidable
At 52, I am happy to say that I have ‘an attitude’ of sorts. I don’t fear death anymore. I’m certainly not looking forward to it or counting down my hours, but I no longer feel dread in the pit of my stomach. I’ve learned to acknowledge its place in my own life. I’ve embraced that talking about it does not make it happen. In fact, it makes the very existence of death easier on our souls.
Getting to this point wasn’t easy and it most definitely did not come naturally. I had to learn it. My education stemmed mostly from talking to other people – people my age who had lost or were about to lose their parents; younger people who hadn’t yet learned this fear and didn’t want to; people who, themselves, knew they were about to die. It wasn’t easy to learn how to let go of fear, but it was necessary to improve my quality of life and yours. From this experience, I’ve created a new program specifically for people like you and I who are now in their 50’s and wanting to live without fear.
The Program: A Series of Four Private Conversations
Throughout my career and due to my own experiences as an individual, I have seen the powerful effects of kind, open-minded and informed conversations. It’s the reason I host Death Café events every month. As social beings, positive communication is an impactful way to reassess our perspectives and fears.
My goal is to help you understand your fears and erase them by accepting them. The following four conversations make the pillars of my program, designed to help you find peace and true joy.
Accepting Death Is The First Step To Finding Freedom
On my journey to becoming a death doula, I deliberately chose to acknowledge death’s existence and make friends with it. Subconsciously, I think I was looking for a way to fight the hypocrisy, greed, and bullying that I had experienced throughout my life. By accepting death, I learned that what my soul truly craved was clarity, empathy, understanding, positive engagement, collaboration, and peace.
This process has radically changed my life for the better. I’ve realized that part of my purpose lies in extending the same beneficial experience to other 50+ women who, like myself, have experienced struggles with accepting death – both our own and that of our loved ones. It’s designed to be an approachable and effective way to help you rid fear, allow you to rationally and lovingly plan for your elder years beyond the legal and material, and picture your life as your legacy.
Without Death There Cannot Be Life
Before I decided to study death, I studied life in great detail. Although I loved my job as a life-scientist, I quickly lost my sense of purpose. I did not feel the same joy when I approached my work. I began to ask myself “Where is the life in that life-only path?”
I started imagining what having an indefinite lifetime would be like. Surely, it would be enjoyable at first – no rush to complete our goals, knowing that there was all the time in the world to experience what we long for. And yet, there are countless tales of immortals who crave death after centuries of life begin to feel meaningless. Why is that?
Death, like deadlines, pushes us out of our comfort zones. It forces us to move forward rather than meandering. We learn to appreciate living in the moment, not because we must fear the end but because we know one day it will come. If we did not experience sadness, we would not fully understand the depths of joy. And so, without death, we cannot fully enjoy our lives.
Our Values Lie At The Core Of Our Fear Of Death
Talking openly about death has helped me reevaluate my core values and how they impact my daily life. Namely, that a fear of death – and of life – results from a misalignment between our core values and our lifestyle. When we make decisions that don’t align with our values or lead us away from our true purpose, we throw ourselves into chaos. Our minds tend to recognize this chaos as a place of safety, because chasing our calling forces us to break from our comfort zones and embrace the unknown. We become addicted to the chaos instead of chasing our dreams. It takes emotional intelligence to recognize this fear as unnecessary and change our paths – a mindset that we’re not always taught.
Too many people die with regret. They fear death so they never live, and in their final breaths they struggle to find peace. My hope is not to tell you what to do, but to help you change your path so that you may live with purpose, embrace the existence of death, and find peace well before the end of your life. This is your journey. I am simply a guide, equipped with the tools to help you shift your mindset and live a more positive and impactful life.
Time Spent Preparing For Death Is Time Wasted
There is no rehearsal for death. We will only truly experience it once. Rather than living by trying to prepare for death, we can live a life of meaning. The rest will follow. We can learn before it’s too late, define our values and create our own legacies. As a former life scientist turned death doula, I will guide you on this journey so that you can finally begin to live life on your own terms.
Throughout my scientific career, what brought me the most joy was the experimental part – the unknown. I would take the time to assemble the best milieu for each specific experiment. I would think creatively, time carefully, and visualize the possible outcomes before waiting for the right temperature to mix the different molecules. Then I would patiently wait to witness the reactions develop, slowly, and in harmony. Whatever the outcome, I was open to it, patient with it, accepting of it. Every time, I would feel the awe of life right there in my hands.
It was magical. Powerful.
Our lives are the same. And so I apply the same principles to my clients and their stories. It’s the unfolding of peace that motivates me to do this work. I make sure that the conditions for human story development are optimal, with the right level and type of support for each person. There are no templates. No set rules. When trying to guide your mindset and perspective to a positive shift, you need someone who will think like a life scientist at the bench.
My goal is to teach you how to understand and experience the joy in your own story development. Like a catalyst, I will hear you, guide you, and only leave you once I witness peace develop. Let’s talk about death early so that we can embrace life – because when you realize that talking about death does not make you die, you’ll find that embracing the fact of death can help you live.
Let me gently guide you, and show you, so you can practice and understand.
Sign up for a free 30-minute discovery call and work with me, as you need, in increments of 2.5-hour empowerment sessions over Zoom. In a private setting, you and I will focus on what you need and want. Throughout the process you’ll discover self-empowerment, finding the magic within you that no one else talks about.
Schedule your free 30-min Discovery Call with Nathalie here.
Nathalie Bonafé 's mission is to change the conversation about aging and dying to help bring more clarity, focus, perspectives and empathy into our culture. She believes that each of us has the right to know about options and possibilities as we age. Focusing on your own values, she'll give you the tools and courage to embrace your fear of change, find peace within, so you can create new choices for yourselves.
She is the founder of A Gentler Parting LLC, a tech-friendly consulting private practice providing individualized end-of-life education and coaching, advocating for personal choices and autonomy. She believes that each of us has the right to know about options and possibilities as we age, until the end.
Schedule your free 30-min Discovery Call with Nathalie here.
Samantha Paternoster is a Freelance Writer and Editor | Specialized in Brand Development, Audience Focused Web Content & Email Marketing. firstname.lastname@example.org.