It puts everything in perspective. We only have a finite time on this earth. Even for those who believe in Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, or another religion where the immortal soul continues into an afterlife, coming face to face with death stops us in our tracks.
Although we may have near death experiences throughout our lives – hopefully few and far between – we most likely will face it the form of an elderly relative’s passing.
This is what happened to me, when my grandmother passed away this past spring at the incredible age of 104. She lived through two wars and was a refugee each time as a result. The second time, she moved to the U.S. and started life anew, a stranger in a strange land.
In contrast to China, Americans and many other Westerners put the elderly into nursing homes paid by the government once the effort of care by family members becomes too great. In Asia, the elderly usually rely on their adult children for comfort and economic means of support. It shows the emphasis placed on youth and vigor to affect the future, as opposed to age and experience to reflect on the past. It’s hard to say if this is right or wrong. It’s just the value system in place here.