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We yearn for belonging

We weren’t just guests; we were family
01:00 AM Jan 28, 2024 IST | Guest Contributor
we yearn for belonging
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In the later years of life, what becomes most important is not fancy things or big trips but something simple yet very powerful: the need for love and belonging.

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I want to share a story about this – a personal experience that shows how feeling accepted is crucial for seniors, and how the lack of it can overshadow even the happiest family gatherings.

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My wife and I went to spend Chilai Kalan, the coldest part of winter, with our son and his family who live outside Kashmir. We were hoping for warmth, not just from the heater but from the love of our family. At first, everything seemed good – the joy of being together, laughter filling the house, and the excitement of celebrating during the festive season.

But as days went by, we started feeling like outsiders. We weren’t just guests; we were family. Still, the constant nagging and gestures made it clear that we were seen as guests, not as important members of the family. The feeling of being just tolerated, not really welcomed, made the celebrations less joyful.

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It wasn’t about the groceries we bought or not interfering with the chores. It was about being accepted. Old age makes you crave emotional security and a feeling of being at home – a place where you’re not just physically present but truly loved and understood. The silent hurt of not feeling acknowledged became stronger than any festive happiness.

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Facing this silent hurt, we decided to leave early. The desire for love and acceptance, mixed with the feeling of being ‘others’ in a place that should feel like home, became too much. We realized that love cannot be forced; it has to come naturally, like a river finding its path.

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In the end, it’s about understanding what seniors really need in their old age. It’s not about expensive gifts or big gestures; it’s about the intangible but powerful force of love, acceptance, and feeling like you truly belong. The physical space doesn’t matter much; it’s the emotional connection that makes all the difference.

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Our children need to understand that in family relationships, feeling accepted weaves a fabric that brings warmth and comfort to ageing souls. Our time during Chilai Kalan, even though it had some disappointments, reminds us that love, shown through acceptance, is the most valuable gift we can give to our parents in their later years. As we live through family dynamics, let’s not forget that, beyond the celebrations, the real heart of family lies in embracing our parents with open hearts, making them feel not just wanted but essential to the very fabric of our lives.

By M.S Shora

Author is a Retired gazetted officer.

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