The “Life Review”
The “life review” is a crucial process that all of us go through in the later years. As first postulated by Robert Butler in 1963, this process helps us accept that human life is finite by looking back at our own life and connecting all the disparate parts. Life review allows us to resolve old conflicts and come to grips with past mistakes. It can help us achieve what Erik Erikson calls integrity, that final stage of adult development in which one can give a blessing to one’s own life.
Ironically, by the time we’re ready to review our lives, our parents are usually gone. Who better, then, to help validate experiences than our brothers and sisters who have been there most (or all) of the time and know us in ways no one else can? Through reminiscing about the past with our siblings and reintegrating those events, values, and attitudes with the present, we can more easily face old age and death. Brothers and sisters connect us to our early lives. Talking with them about growing up clarifies events, fills in gaps, and evokes the warmth of early family life.
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