Old Age is a Terminal Illness
by Alma H. Bond

Universal Publishers, 2006. ISBN 1581129041.
Reviewed by Doris Anne Roop-Benner
Posted on 02/06/2007

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Elders

For those of us who have kept a journal for years, it seems plausible that someone would want to keep a death journal. Especially if you have had five dear friends die in the past decade.

After Dr. Bond started experiencing age-related problems, she found herself obsessing over them and assuming she was waging a war against her inevitable demise. So she started a dream journal to try to discover what was in her subconscious to cause her "death depression." This dream work helped her understand that she was denying her entire aging process. Through her death journal, she came to realize that "the real despair of the human condition is that eventually we all go the way of the cockroach. We die when we die. And we damn well better accept it." But she senses that the feeling of self remains fixed, whatever our age or severity of an illness. The self feels independent of the body altogether.

Dr. Bond feels that if dying and death are causing you grief, then you should keep a journal and try to come to terms with your fears. Learn to "seize the moment" and think about what your legacy will be. "The idea of dying is not quite as horrifying if you know that in some manner or other you will live on."

Now this all sounds very morbid, but I found myself relating to most of the fears that she tells us about. It's like talking to a girlfriend and finding out that she has problems with her health, her diet, her sleeping, etc. It somehow makes you feel better that you're not the only one. I also liked the fact that her musings, fantasies, remembrances of friends and family, and insights are all similar to my thoughts about death now that I'm getting on in years. If you need something to help you examine your life and learn more about this sensitive subject, get the book and feel better.

Dr. Alma Bond has been a private practice psychoanalyst for 37 years. She has published 12 books, which include Tales of Psychology: Short Stories to Make You Wise, Who killed Virginia Woolf?, Psychobiography: Is There Life After Analysis? and Camille Claudel, a Novel.

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