A distinguished clinical psychologist and bestselling author examines the personal and social issues that aging women face in modern American society.
For women in transition between late-middle and old age, life becomes more difficult. Loss, especially through death, becomes the new norm as women see their bodies and minds devalued by society. To help women navigate these late-life “turns in the river,” Pipher (The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in our Capsized Culture, 2013, etc.) offers practical wisdom based on interviews, research, and her own experiences as a therapist and aging woman. In the first section, the author highlights “the challenges of the journey,” which she illustrates with real-life anecdotes. As Pipher writes, TV, “movies, fashion, and advertising rarely reflect the needs and circumstances of older women.” Women who formerly felt attractive experience a “crisis of confidence,” and many women find their bodies becoming more limited due to illness or age. In the second section, Pipher focuses on “travel skills” women need to manage this part of the journey. The ability to accommodate change is key, as is creating a community of individuals with whom to communicate and deflect the isolation that too often comes with age. Reframing “situations in positive ways, being thankful, and giving to others” are also skills that can help ease the journey forward. In the third section, the author emphasizes the importance of relationships. Female friendships, in particular, can bring comfort and pleasure, and for those whose marriages have survived into old age, partners and families can become safe havens. But the most important relationship an aging woman has will always be with herself. As Pipher notes in the final section, one of the greatest gifts of old age is the loss of “false selves” carried earlier in the journey and the emergence of a whole and authentic self. Eloquently compassionate and sure to appeal to late-life women, Pipher’s book draws from a deep well of insight that is both refreshing and spiritually aware.
Thoughtful, wise, and humane.