How do we honour our elders and mark their transition from full-time working years into 'retirement' ?
Is there such a thing as 'retirement' any more any way?
Like global warming where the security of the rhythm of seasons has been blurred, the 'seasons' of our lives have been disrupted.
New approaches to marking transitions in our lives need to be developed to suit our new social and psychological (spiritual) environment.
Not a turning back of the clock.
But creating newer styles of ceremonies and celebrations using those time tested underlying principles that address our core needs as human beings.Once upon a time, a worker was awarded the 'gold watch' at retirement after 40 years of loyal service in the one job! Now such dedication and the development of knowledge and skill is not valued.
Modern work practices of short term contracts and changing technologies mean many jobs and many employers. No single 'firm' anymore witnesses the blossoming of the 'apprentice' into the mature, wise and experienced 'craft' person, whatever their vocation.
More than ever, families and friends as the main witnesses to our development in all areas of our lives, need to use special occasions to mark important life transitions for their loved ones.
Milestone birthdays are perhaps the main opportunity to honour our elders. Or wedding anniversaries. Or downsizing by moving home. Or with some imagination, other opportunities in our lives such as Mother's or Father's Day, Australia Day, Good Neighbour Day, Valentines Day and the like.
A 'Coming of Wisdom Age' celebration for most people would perhaps be best celebrated as a 60th or 65th Birthday, though one does not need to be hard or fast about this.
One does need to be mindful of the health issues of older people. Leaving such a ceremony to an 80th or 90th Birthday party may be just a tad too late !
Also as one in five in their 80s and one in two in their 90s develop dementia, the sooner one can document the person's story for family history purposes the better.
Besides if we wait too long, we may be celebrating them when they are dead Would it not be better to do this while they are alive!
Additional material can be added by the family later, but using a significant Birthday is a great way to get the ball rolling. And depending on how much people cooperate, an substantial collection of memorabilia can be created.
This age coincides with the granting of a "Seniors Card"
This age is still considered a traditional age to retire although age pension rules and flexible work arrangements mean that many are working longer.
"Three score years and ten" coincides with past references to the length of life. But in our Western world 70 is the new sixty and may be in fact the peak of our mental capabilities and social interactions. Either way the symbolism of 7 itself is interesting being a prime number made of a 4 and a 3.
4 = A square which is stable and a symbol of wholeness. 3 = a Triangle which is symbol of change - growth / positivity if point upwards, or decline / negativity if pointed downwards. So often age 70 does coincide with a person's sense of having "made it" what-ever that means for them. And the challenge may be about what to focus upon in their remaining years. (See The Eldering Ceremony)
In our 'youth' oriented culture, many post 50 years olds are very ambivalent about being seen as 'Seniors'. Or about being centre stage. See Special time for family and friends
- On the other hand, these are opportunities for great family events and so require a measure of humility on behalf of the "senior/s" to be "used" as the prime reason for getting family and friends together.
As civil celebrants, we hope will be a positive and affirming experience for the guest of honour, being seen as "Wise" rather than "Old" when the recipient of a 'Coming of Wisdom Age',
Remember an independent civil celebrant can:
Special time for family and friends
- work with the group to plan the ceremony for its form and content are psychologically and socially appropriate
- interview the guest of honour or close family and friends to create a "Life Story Album" with text and photos
- work with the guest of honour regarding their commitment to life affirming goals for the next stage of their life's journey
- organise the development of a DVD pictorial review if desired
- organise an Appreciation Album for guest contributions
- lead and guide the ceremony through its various stages to a fitting conclusion.
That's why we say:
- Let the celebration be your gift!
- Club together to engage an independent professional celebrant to work with you to the depth you desire.
If you have ideas to share about how such a ceremony could work or suggestions for its components please contact us