A psychologist recently told me one of his clients was ready to finish therapy. He said she had recovered from the abuse she had endured as a child. He said she was 65-years-old.
The psychologist said his client was grieving because she was now fully aware of how much she had missed out on in her life, and because she knew she did not have a lot of time left to live as a fully healthy individual.
I sometimes witness this grief first-hand when my clients that were abused as children realize how much they have missed out on. They are correct to grieve because so much was taken away from them, and they have missed out on a lot. Having healthy relationships with spouses. Children. Extended family. Friends. Colleagues. The list is long and painful.
I was in a bookstore the other week and picked up a copy of the 2008 commencement address given to Harvard’s graduating class by J. K. Rowling. The book is called The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination. I’ve posted a link to the YouTube video of Rowling delivering the address if you would like to watch it. (The link is located at the bottom of this post.)
Thirty seconds from the end of the talk, in her third to last sentence, Rowling quotes Lucius Annaeus Seneca, a Roman statesman and philosopher (circa 4 BC – 65 AD). The quote reads, “As is a tale, so is life; not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.”
I interpret Seneca’s quote as it pertains to the life of a person that, as they finish therapy, feels whole and complete for the first time. My interpretation of Seneca’s quote goes like this. It’s not how much time you have remaining in your life, but how good your life is in the time you have remaining, that matters.
I find this statement comforting. The work of therapy is worth doing, no matter how old you are or much time you have remaining, because no matter how much time you have remaining, your life can become so very, very good.
Dr. Patricia Turner, Registered Psychologist, Calgary, Alberta
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