First I think it is important to note that the evening of life is not necessarily related to chronological age. Anyone diagnosed with an acute, eventually, terminal illness is moving into the evening of life— his or her particular life. I have often seen a speeding up of the maturation process at every level as if the organism recognizes that time is in short supply. The same holds true for individuals coping with chronic potentially terminal illness—the evening comes closer to conscious awareness.

Why is this important to me now?

I recently reviewed my calendars for the past eight years in Milwaukee. I made a list of every client and session and categorized each one: care consulting, spiritual direction, and end-of-life counseling. It was hard to so clearly delineate many of the sessions— often we touched on all three areas as our conversations unfolded. I decided to classify each session according to the original question the person had asked.

What did I learn?

That these three areas of concern—care, spiritual, and end-of-life— form an equilateral triangle (Remember those? Each line is equal and each angle is 60°. Thank you, Euclid!) No matter what concern is uppermost the other two are beneath the surface. What a person comes looking for initially usually depends on the situation especially if there are pressing needs, for example, transportation or housing; old guilts/regrets, or fears about the actual dying process and/or what might come after.

We might never talk about the other two angles below the surface. That is up to the individual. For me, it is more real and more satisfying to hold all three in my awareness. There is a spiritual dimension to bodily care concerns. Death might be around the block or next-door or in the yard or in the house. I have learned that very often it is not just about the car or the stairs or the regrets or the estate plan.