When It Becomes Personal


The news story reads, “Man commits suicide after… “.

The television news reporter announces, “An armed man entered a… “.

The radio broadcaster says, “A woman was swindled out of her life savings when…”.

The doctor tells his patient, “I’m sorry, but you have (an incurable disease)…”

When you hear about these stories and events, you will most likely listen and think, “How sad,” or, “How terrible.” You might even think of loved ones who are the same age as those affected by the tragedies: your son, your granddaughter, your mother, your grandfather. Then, in most cases, life goes on just as it was prior to hearing the news.

When a crisis like a suicide, a mass shooting, a scam or an incurable illness directly affects you and/or someone you love it seems to shove you into an entirely different dimension! It becomes more than just sad or terrible; it moves the earth beneath your feet, makes the sky want to fall and seems to stop time. Your stomach does a somersault and your heart almost quits beating. Then, adrenaline starts pumping into your body and you are overcome by the overwhelming urge to fight or take flight.

The same news, just different degrees of separation, can make a huge difference in how we are affected by the news we receive from the world around us.

If we look closer at a couple of these news stories which don’t seem to affect our immediate circle of family and friends, we can see that in some cases they actually do.

If a man commits suicide and the reason was because he was 56 years old and couldn’t break back into the job market because  of his age, he was a victim of ageism. If you are aging (and we all are) that means you stand a direct chance of being a victim of ageism yourself one day. It may not be in the workplace, but it could happen to you directly through healthcare (or lack of it) that you receive based on your age, or the way you will be treated in an emergency situation.

If a woman is swindled out of her life savings, unless her family has the resources to support her, she will most likely need to be supported by public assistance. That doesn’t mean “the government.” That means you and me, my friend, through the government by money collected in taxes. Now that makes it personal.

So, when you find yourself saying, “That’s sad,” or, “That’s terrible,” to a situation that happened to someone you aren’t related to or friends with, don’t be too quick to dismiss it as some distant event. If you knew the full story by following it to the end, you might realize that it does affect you or have the potential to affect you in a very personal way; even in a way that could shove you into that other dimension that rocks your world.

Now when you hear a news story, ask yourself, “How does this affect me and those I love and care about?” Follow the story to the end. Then ask yourself,  “How can I keep this from happening to me or someone I love?” Finally, finish the internal interrogation with, “How can I do something for this cause or situation?” Then, and most importantly, do something.

AGEISM: Prejudice or discrimination against a particular age-group and especially the elderly.

EMOTIONAL WELLNESS – Be mindful of how you feel! Engage in mindfulness activities such as yoga and tai chi; talk with your doctor or counselor if you’re feeling blue.


  1. Yes Kathy! I have found this to be far too true about midlife change and illness. Everyone thinks it won’t happen to them until it does, and then they cannot believe it. I have done all I can to inform others about the present upsurge in midlife suicide and also about the scourge of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, because they destroy so many lives and yet are so misunderstood.


    • Laura, Good for you. You are doing something to inform people of things that are important to you, even if they haven’t become personal. It’s great to have passion for helping others. Cheers to you. Kathy


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