The Losses of Ageing

The losses of ageing, and the resources that help

Loss is inevitable as we age. We start attending more funerals than weddings. Grief becomes a frequent visitor, and stops for more than just one cup of tea. Physical capabilities diminish, and we may need to relinquish possessions and even our homes.

How can we manage these losses and stay engaged and hopeful about life?

I asked my readers and found they draw on resources at many levels.

Physical self-care

My readers spoke about doing yoga to keep the body open, and other daily movement routines, including walking, and for one woman, dancing in the kitchen. Another reader was enthusiastic about planting trees.

Social connections

Social connections matter a lot, as we know from many studies. Some people appreciated having a loving partner, while others focused on community, or their animals: ‘my cat who gives me such love.’

One person spoke of ‘the inspiration of older women, who are living with passion, intelligence, curiosity, heart and grace; showing me the way.’

For a woman in her seventies, it was the act of caring for others that made a difference: ‘caring for whanau and friends.’


Our mindset is paramount as we grow older and deal with setbacks. In my new book, The Persimmon Journal, I write about times of challenge when I had to sell my beloved bach after 53 years and realised my attitude wasn’t helping. I needed to shift out of negativity and find acceptance.

Acceptance was a theme for my readers: ‘knowing I’ve done my best at the time’; or ‘learning to accept and love myself, finally at 80’. For one woman, acceptance came from ‘knowing I’m living my life better now’.

A funeral celebrant spoke of acceptance of the natural ageing process, knowing ‘it is a privilege not given to everyone.’

Inspirational books and podcasts are a help for some, to maintain a positive attitude.

Spiritual Resources

I was interested in how many people draw support from nature and cycles of growth. Maybe it isn’t surprising given so many of my readers enjoy gardening, seasonal celebrations, singing, painting, writing, and meditation.

For one man, ‘knowing that ageing is natural’ and part of the cycle of growth, regeneration, and death’, gives him a healthy perspective on life.

For a seventy-three-year-old woman suffering the tragedy of the death of her youngest son, solace is drawn from many of the practices above, and being present to the life in her garden as she watches the little creatures there.

How journal writing helps

When I found myself in Lockdown, I picked up my pen and began writing The Persimmon Journal: the art of growing older through lockdown, loss, and release.  Through the challenges of being in Lockdown alone with a hundred days without a hug, having to sell the bach, and missing my family, the Journal helped me to gain meaning of what happened. It helped me to make wise choices, and bring me through setbacks to times of new openings.

My new book is the second in my Seasons of Life trilogy. Readers said they felt hopeful and inspired after reading the first book. They could find themselves in the book, and felt companioned and guided. At the end of The Persimmon Journal, I offer some tips for how to use journaling as a support for grief and loss.

It is a great resource, and the final one I recommend.

By Dr Juliet Batten

Click here to see more about The Persimmon Journal