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Ceremonies for Elders or the 3rd stage of life

Ceremonies for Elders or the 3rd stage of life Pixabay 443901

The Eldering Ceremony: Celebrating An Elder’s Coming of Age

From a previous issue of the National Celebrants  e_Magazine

By Shae Hadden

Shae Hadden is executive director and co-founder of the Eldering Institute®, an organization offering courses, products and tools that guide people to create satisfying, fulfilling lives and to demonstrate their wisdom in action. She is committed to multigenerational collaboration towards peace, sustainability, and the health and wellbeing of people of all ages. Since 2007, she has been developing strategies and designing programs to encourage purpose, mastery and contribution in later life. In her view, everyone has the potential to be a leader—at any age—and the epitome of leadership is being ‘wisdom in action’ (sharing the best of who we are and what we know in a way that empowers others).

Have you noticed the increasing number of media stories that mention the resources and services needed for our ‘greying population’ or the economic opportunities available to those who can serve the ‘aging Boomers’?

Many smart businesses, aware of the benefits of catching a ‘wave’ before it hits, are focusing their attention on figuring out what people in their 50s and 60s will need and then offering it to them—before they even know they want it. When it comes to Australia’s celebrants, we see a similar opportunity for growth in the emerging Boomer services market .

In the latter half of the twentieth century, ‘retirement’ from a career usually marked the beginning of a ‘prolonged holiday’ and the end of one’s need to contribute to society. Yet today, with improved standards of living and healthcare in many developed countries, more and more people are living longer, healthier lives than ever before in human history. Instead of following what society dictates as the limits of what’s reasonable for an ‘aging senior citizen’, people are choosing to forego retirement, start a new career or enterprise, or contribute in other meaningful ways to their communities or society at large in later life.

Senior or Elder?

As part of this growing movement, there is an increasing interest in North America in becoming an ‘Elder’. People genuinely want to be someone who is respected and valued in their community for contributing something that will really make a difference to the future. The intent here is not to simply become someone who hands down traditions and ‘old answers’ to younger generations. For in our fast-paced and fast-changing world, historical traditions and solutions may no longer be comprehensive or even relevant in current situations.

To be an Elder today means to be continually learning and growing, to be committed to viewing things from many perspectives, to be willing to share the possibilities one sees and to point out to others what is missing for those possibilities to be realized. To be an Elder means to be responsible for and taking steps toward creating a world that works for future generations.

From this perspective, an Elder does not have to be a specific age. They simply need to be acknowledged as being someone who shares their wisdom—their insights and perspectives, their ‘way of being’ in the world (not just their ‘stories’ about the past)—in a way that brings out the best in others and helps them live life more successfully on their own terms.

Eldering: The New Elderhood

The word elderingwas originally used by the Quakers to distinguish the process of handing down the culture and traditional ways of doing things to younger generations. We are redefining ‘Eldering™’ in the 21st century to mean being ‘wisdom in action’. Being an Elder today is about:

  • Living life as a contribution by sharing our wisdom
  • Learning and growing throughout our lives
  • Relating to people of all ages with respect and dignity to transcend age in all our relationships
  • Creating our collective future together by connecting with others who care about what we care about, sharing the possibilities we see and collaborating with them

By committing to being ‘wisdom in action’, we can transform our experience of growing older from decline and loss to purpose and the possibility of having the rest of our lives be the best of our lives.

Celebrating The Rite of Passage into Eldering

The opportunity for celebrants here is to assist individuals in marking their passage into Eldering. We have developed an Eldering Ceremony that can either be used at a private or public function to mark the transition. The ceremony can also be adapted to become part of another more ‘standard’ celebration (such as a retirement or birthday party, family get-together or group meeting). Participants in the event ideally include community members, family or friends from multiple generations.

The Eldering Ceremony focuses on:

  • Acknowledging the prospective Elder for who they are and what they have already contributed to others
  • Allowing the prospective Elder to publicly declare their commitments as an Elder to their community, family and friends
  • Accepting the individual as an Elder in the community

Celebrants can incorporate the use of other media (music, videos, photography) to create a memorable occasion for both the Elder and the participants.

We have developed a Celebrants Guide to the Eldering Ceremony which you can download from our website.

To comply with current Australian copyright legislation (the Copyright Act of 1968), we charge a one-time licensing fee, which gives the licensee a lifetime right to use the Eldering Ceremony as it stands and to adapt it for inclusion in other celebrations.

For more information about the Guide or Eldering
, visit or email us

© 2010 Shae Hadden. All rights reserved.


The TCN wishes to thank Shae for making possible the opportunity to allow Australian celebrants to use this ceremony in their celebrancy work.

The material had originally been available only for non-profit use. After an approach by Rona Goold (TCN Founder), who had the opportunity to view the ceremony, was impressed with its content and could see its potential for improving the lives of senior Australians, the Eldering Institute has changed its policy.

Now the material can be purchased and used by celebrants, who charge for their services in offering such ceremonies.

The Eldering Ceremony Guide

Our Eldering Ceremony Guide ($100 for lifetime use) includes:

  • Instructions for organizing and conducting the event,
  • Recommended declarations,
  • Cue sheets for the participants and
  • Suggestions on how to customize the ceremony.

With your purchase of the Guide, you receive a lifetime license to use and modify the ceremony to suit your community's needs

To purchase

For further reading:

Last modified on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 21:49