Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

Mr. Mandela


Listening to the news on my way to work this morning I was sad to hear that Nelson Mandela is now in critical condition.  He will be 95 next month.

I am totally unqualified to comment on his extraordinary life and immeasurable contributions.   But I can say that as I was thinking about him on my commute to work I heard his voice distinctly in my head.  He said very clearly that “it was time to go.”  Just that.  Very calmly, unemotional; just a fact.

I have often wondered what goes through the minds of people at the end stages of life.  Even healthy people of a certain age must wonder what lies ahead.  I ponder whether people of this age are more prone to questioning their future.  I wonder if they become eager to find out what’s next.  I wonder if people are ready for that next adventure.

Maybe most people would rather stay here with friends and family and daily routine.   But given the inevitable do some people look forward to leaving?  I wonder.  A few people I have known, people who have achieved great age, have told me they were ready to go.  Others seemed less certain, more afraid.  It’s all human nature I suppose.  Still I wonder what people in their 90’s think about and whether it’s different from what people think about when they are in their 50’s.

And of course I wonder if I put Mr. Mandela’s voice into my head myself.  I think the world is lucky to have had him at all.  And I hope we honor him with peaceful respect when he chooses to leave us.

Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

13 thoughts on “Mr. Mandela

  1. I think, if you have a debilitating illness, if your future promises a much diminished quality of life, it would be easier to accept the fact that it’s time to go. But that’s easy to say from a position of wellness. Nelson Mandela has had a meaningful, productive life, has contributed much and suffered much. Perhaps for him, his time to relax and struggle no more is in his next “life”.


    • Yes it is so hard to know when you haven’t faced it yourself. Though I know you have perhaps a closer relationship with experience like this than some of us do.


  2. I think when you lose the ability to do things you love or just be able to live the life you use to know, you are ready to go.


  3. An extraordinary man, a life well lived. If anyone deserves peace, he does.


  4. I did hear his ex wife say the family were wrong to keep him going and she wished “they would let him go” I guess. People seem to think if he dies all the good he did will die with him – but he has left behind a wonderful legacy of change. Having worked in hospice care for many years – one thing I found is people tend to hang on not for themselves – but for those around them and once given the ultimate gift of those few words “you can stop fighting now” many often pass peacefully.


  5. I think people and pets often linger because they don’t want to cause pain to those they leave behind. When the living can honor a person or pets life by letting them leave this world with dignity and with a feeling that their memories and life will be carried on by those left behind it’s might be easier to let go. . .when we say, “see you on the other side” with conviction I would like to believe it lessens the fear and the anxiety of those moving on into the beyond. Written with respect for the feelings of all those who might believe differently.


    • It is hard to give them permission to go, because we know we will miss them so much. But true love knows when it’s time. Doesn’t make it easier, but it knows.


  6. I agree with the comments above. I think it will depend so much on how much you’ve lived, how you’ve lived, who you’re leaving behind, and whether they’ve given you permission to go. I hope you’re right about true love knowing when it’s time. Letting go is just so hard.


  7. I had a neighbor who, every time she talked with us, swore she was “ready to go.” And she wasn’t even what I’d consider “old”! I think it boils down to the person. Some probably are ready for the next adventure; others hang onto what’s familiar.


  8. This is a beautiful post, Dawn. It brought tears to my eyes. We’re dealing with some health challenges with my dad right now–really can’t share about them on the blog because he reads it. I am wondering if it’s his time to go. Haven’t heard his voice in my head, but felt like he was moving a step closer to the great unknown during the last trip downstate. Going to try to head down again soon.


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