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Is It Okay to Grieve Growing Older?

Most of the time, when people think about grief, their thoughts wander to the death of a loved one. But, grief can occur when you experience any kind of loss. You can grieve over losing a job, moving out of a beloved home, or a broken marriage. 

You can even grieve the loss of your youth. 

If you find yourself feeling sad, frustrated, or hopeless about the idea of growing older, you could be grieving your younger self. To some, that might seem silly on the surface. But, it’s okay to grieve growing older as long as you know how to keep moving forward and cope with it in healthy, effective ways. 

Why Do We Grieve Growing Older?

Think back on your childhood. Whether it was idyllic or not, chances are you have some happy memories with friends and family members. Some might be very specific. Maybe you got the toy you wanted more than anything for Christmas one year. Maybe you remember the first time you rode a bicycle by yourself. 

It’s normal for people to have a sense of nostalgia about the things they loved when they were younger. Sometimes, that nostalgia can cause you to feel sad because you don’t have those experiences or familiar things around you anymore. 

We also tend to grieve growing older because our minds and bodies change. You might not be able to do everything you used to, physically. You might notice it takes you longer to remember things. 

middle aged woman smiling at camera

Those can be reminders of your mortality — another reason to grieve your aging body. Getting older often causes people to think about death, which can cause you to “grieve” the experiences you still want to have or things you would’ve done differently in the past. 

Is This Grief Normal? 

Not only is it okay to grieve growing older, but it’s perfectly normal. Most people experience at least some sadness about their “loss” of youth. Whether you have regrets, wish you would have done more, or you’re not ready to give up some of the things that naturally come with age, it’s understandable to feel a loss that you know won’t return. 

One of the first steps in coping with the grief of growing older is to acknowledge it. Don’t try to push down your feelings or brush off your emotions as something silly or unimportant. You’re allowed to grieve this loss. 

How to Cope with the Grief of Growing Older

Once you’ve acknowledged your grief, you can start working through it. When you do, you’ll be able to enjoy the process of getting older, rather than feeling stuck thinking about what you’ve lost (or will lose). 

One of the best ways to work through your grief is to take care of yourself. You’re less likely to feel stuck if you feel good, mentally and physically. Prioritize getting enough sleep and staying physically active. Take care of your mental well-being by journaling, meditating, or practicing mindfulness. 

Additionally, make sure you maintain an active social life. One of the biggest issues older people face is isolation and loneliness. Multiple studies have shown that isolation can cause issues like depression, anxiety, and even a higher mortality rate. Your symptoms of grief are likely to get worse if you withdraw from the people you love. 

Finally, in addition to leaning on your support system, don’t hesitate to talk to us about life transitions counseling. You don’t have to bear the burden of grief on your own. Talking to someone can help you understand the source of your grief, and a therapist can help you develop strategies to keep working through it. 

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Green Heart Therapy provides in-person psychotherapy for adults, teens, and children in Los Angeles and online therapy across California.