Layers of Loss Presentation / by Donna Olivia Owusu-Ansah

I did not dread what I would become, but I needed to mourn the end of what I had been. It was like saying goodbye to a place I had lived in and loved.
— Arthur Frank, At the Will of the Body

Last week I had the honor of presenting at the Positive Transitions program at the Oaktree Presbyterian Churh where my college and friend Rev. Dr. Glory Thomas is the Pastor. It was a courageous conversation that included an Eldercare Lawyer, a Director of a Skilled Nursing Facility, an Advocate for Advanced Care Planning and me. My portion of the evening event was titled, “Layers of Loss: Understanding and Coping with Grief Beyond Death.” I began the presentation with a reflection on Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 and words from Arthur Frank about the changing landscape of his body, emotions, and relationships as he aged. I then went on to speak about the nature and stages of grief, the challenges of aging, the losses unique to aging, unhealthy ways of expressing grief, and healthy ways of expressing grief. Based on the nods, lean-ins, and the conversations after the program, the audience found meaning in the conversation. Aging is a fact of life. Yet there are few spaces where we can talk about the changes, and losses, that come when we age. This space, this conversation, showed me what is possible and necessary. If you are interested in learning more or having me speak to your congregation or group of seniors, click here.