John, what wonderful programs and what a gift you’ve given your children by fostering their unique processes of healing in this way. I remember, after my mother passed away, how very much I was mindful of my father’s grief and, too, of his utter devotion to and beautiful love for his children. Being an empathetic child didn’t lack for some intensely heavy shit at too young an age; but I can now see the gift of it. I mean, having both witnessed and experienced the aftermath, during that time I also got to dream of a life that would be lighter and happier. Some may argue that it’s a form of escape. Ok fine. But I mostly see it as a roadmap, loosely navigated- with detours and pit stops- creating and evolving into the life I’m now living. Which is lighter and happier. I wish you, your children and your in-laws similar hope and peace as you honor your grief. I so enjoyed reading your insights (beautifully written!). Thank you so SO much for offering a fresh voice.
According to Erik Erikson 's "Stages of Psychosocial Development" , the human personality is developed in a series of eight stages that take place from the time of birth and continue on throughout an individual's complete life. He characterises old age as a period of "Integrity vs. Despair", during which a person focuses on reflecting back on his life. Those who are unsuccessful during this phase will feel that their life has been wasted and will experience many regrets. The individual will be left with feelings of bitterness and despair. Those who feel proud of their accomplishments will feel a sense of integrity. Successfully completing this phase means looking back with few regrets and a general feeling of satisfaction. These individuals will attain wisdom, even when confronting death.    Coping is a very important skill needed in the aging process to move forward with life and not be 'stuck' in the past. The way a person adapts and copes, reflects his aging process on a psycho-social level.