Morbid Birthday Reflections

11 Apr 2022
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As I write this, it's my birthday. I've always had some trouble with birthdays; for a long time I had an aversion to celebrating on that day. It always made me uncomfortable to be the centre of attention, and a lot of that came from how hard I was on myself in all other aspects of my life. It was very difficult to feel like I deserved to be celebrated.

While I'm still considered rather young (I haven't yet reached 40), I've found some motivation in my birthday celebrations, though maybe not in the way you might think. My father died early, and I've lost uncles and great uncles at an early age, too. So it's been an easy transition to using my birthday to remember mortality and the limits of the time we have. Perhaps that's more than a bit morbid, but I've found it to focus my efforts in all the things I do.

I only have a certain number of years to be who I am meant to be. My birthday is a great reminder that I have a finite span, and I find a measure of comfort in the fact that everybody has that span as well. Life is short, and we never know how much longer we have. It's too short to spend my time beating myself up mentally and emotionally. It also helps get me out of my own thoughts and do things outside of myself. Caring for loved ones, serving those in need, and trying to make a positive impact with the time I have left to me.

So many of my past birthdays depressed me, and I wallowed in self-pity and remorse. But now I focus on the time left, and what I want to accomplish, and the opportunities that I may have.

Do you find any solace, focus, or motivation in your finite time? Am I being too morbid? Let me know in the comments. I'm always interested to see what others may think.

John C

A Moodscope Member.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Comments

Paul

April 12, 2022, 3:51 a.m.

Hi John Firstly many happy returns of the day, I do hope you can enjoy this birthday, I’m sure you will get some uplifting comments on here today. You are still a young man I’m pushing 66 ( this week too) so I would happily swop ages. I too have lost many members of my family at young ages father, mother sister niece Uncles. I hope you have been Checked out out for genetic conditions. I have Brugada syndrome I was the first to be diagnosed making me feel very lucky. With so many deaths I used to wallow in self pity on the anniversaries of my lost family. Someone once pointed out departed family would not want me to be so sad and down all the time. It’s a fair point one I took on board. I still think a lot about them but try not to get too down. I’m sure the loses we endure affects our mental health but in some ways makes us more compassionate. Try not to be too morbid I have been a morbid expert and wasted some years being there. I told my daughters when I pass if they are upset for too long I will come back and haunt them LOL Sorry to ramble I do hope you can enjoy your birthday today John. Sending a virtual handshake. Paul

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Liz

April 12, 2022, 4:21 a.m.

Happy Birthday John and good morning. I enjoyed your blog, I feel the same about my birthdays and was really dreading reaching 40. Although it wasn't because of relatives dying early. It was more of what I hadn't achieved yet and was comparing myself to what most 40 years olds would have by now. Like a high paid career, business, own family etc. I am hard on myself too. So I understand that feeling. I found appreciating what I did have helped me and grateful for the people who spent the time with me to celebrate. I remember hearing that saying that life begins at 40..so there's still time lol.

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The Gardener

April 12, 2022, 9:43 a.m.

Liz, life DID begin at 40 for me. Nothing wrong with previous 2 decades, just deep involvement keeping roof over heads, building up business, bringing up family. At 40 I had my first article published and had a month at Lucy Clayton modelling school - every day to London, different in itself - from muddy farm to Bond Street. It's never too late!! xx

Janet

April 12, 2022, 5 a.m.

It sounds to me as though you really put your birthdays to good use John. Positive, realistic and a determination that your life will have meaning. I think that's wonderful. Relish your birthday today!

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Tutti Frutti

April 12, 2022, 8:06 a.m.

John I second that. It's a shame that the way you view yourself didn't allow you to enjoy past birthdays. But it sounds like you have come up with a really positive way of both coping with and using your birthday now. I hope this one was helpful to you. Love TF x

Bearofliddlebrain

April 12, 2022, 5:08 a.m.

Morning John and thank you for taking the time to write for us on your birthday…hope you managed to enjoy this one a little more. Birthdays are awkward things aren’t they?! A time for reflection when we are older? When we are young, we look forward to them….then they become embarrassing as we move into adulthood - we reach a stage when we don’t want to tell anyone how old we are!! Then you see the octogenarians who wear their grand age like the badge of honour it deserves - they reached a good older age! Even better when they look a lot younger! Have a lovely lady in the knitter and knat group who was 80 about a month back - she looks amazing, keeps herself busy doing things she enjoys, (ssh…maybe that’s the secret!) It’s hard when your family, close or extended family, die young - but thinking of them and trying to be grateful as if each day is your last can help. It’s just with poor mental health we can’t always be that way - it’s hard work and sometimes we can feel a fraud for trying desperately to find the ‘good’ in each day. Take baby steps forward and only look back to see how far you’ve come, rather than looking back with regrets for what you haven’t done or if you’ve missed opportunities. Oh, and if you have missed an opportunity, go grab it - it’s yours for the taking ;-)* Love and Bear hugs x x x

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Isabella

April 12, 2022, 5:22 a.m.

Hi John, I’m sorry birthdays aren’t good for you. I had my baby very late so was much older than other mums with babies - my solution was not to divulge my age to ‘outsiders’ and for those who knew I went backwards…i.e. when I was 50 went back to 45, 51 to 46 etc. many actors did that too! For me I’ve always been cross that age defines us - so I don’t let it. I’m nearly 70 now - I might go back to 65 haven’t quite decided. :)

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Tutti Frutti

April 12, 2022, 8:02 a.m.

Hi Isabella Make sure that you remember to tell anyone who could accidentally give you away. We had a rather awkward time when my niece asked me my age and then said that I couldn't be that old because my big sister was only 43! Love TF x

Sally

April 12, 2022, 6:11 a.m.

Hi John, I’m sorry your birthdays haven’t always been a cause for celebration, and your reasons are clear and understandable. As Paul said, above, each loss can make you more compassionate , and you’ve found your own laudable and positive way to mark the birthdays. My worst birthday was my 21st, parents and family made no effort to make it special, and what's more I had to travel back to France where I was doing my year abroad as part of a degree on modern languages. So it was a total non event . I vowed that every subsequent one would be special and celebrated, however modestly. Now, about to turn 70, I love them! I’m going to wear 70 as a badge of honour. Thank you, John C, it was very interesting to read your blog.

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Teg

April 12, 2022, 6:50 a.m.

Morning Sally I think as we get older( and I am well into my seventies) we can use regrets from the past to our advantage. If my arithmetic is correct you have had 47 great birthdays between 22 and 69. I hope you are making plans for an extra special 70th! Txx

Sally

April 13, 2022, 4:11 a.m.

Morning Teg. Thanks for that. I have indeed. Some very nice things planned for my 70th, yes indeed! I agree! We CAN use regrets from the past to our advantage !

Teg

April 12, 2022, 6:43 a.m.

Hi John Thank you for this Post. I agree it is so easy to become morbid about our own mortality. I think it is important to have some idea about how you want to spend the rest of your time. For me that falls into two parts that overlap. Firstly look after yourself. Find things you are passionate about and gain pleasure from. This may sound selfish, but you cannot help others unless you are content with your own life. That brings on to the second part. Find ways of helping others. This may be simple things like chatting with an elderly neighbours or relatives. The ultimate goal is to engage in activities that help you and others simultaneously Win/win situations. I think Moodscope satisfies that criteria. Hope this helps a little.

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Norman

April 12, 2022, 7:19 a.m.

My dad died at 62 and my mam at 66, so investing in a pension didn't seem like a good idea. When I passed the age at which my dad died I had a bittersweet moment. Atm passing my mam's span seems a long shot. I lost some great friends when they were in their forties but they had really lived to the full. I feel as if I'm still trying to get my life started.

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Lex

April 12, 2022, 7:33 a.m.

Happy Birthday, John. I'm glad you're finding and making your birthdays a significant part of moving you forward and motivating you. May today be a good day.

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The Gardener

April 12, 2022, 8:42 a.m.

Happy birthday John - it's YOUR day. Birthday's always been special for me - much more in the line of making sure the day was good for others - big party, big surprise, according to their taste - children - they were centre of attention on their birthday from the start - school day presents on table at breakfast. Two children had birthdays in three countries as we travelled. My birthdays were often 'jinxed' Mr G in hospital for two, including 80th. His was a huge success in UK, his 70th ditto here. This year in June 5 family birthdays - mine and great-grandson on same day - I will be 87, he will be 2!!! Mr G used to be dismissive about birthday and Christmas, when we got there he loved it. His family were not great celebrators (small matter of a war to contend with) when he found he had married a wife who would have a party on any excuse he decided it was OK.

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Moodie

April 12, 2022, 9:18 a.m.

Happy Birthday .... wish you a good year xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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Oli

April 12, 2022, 10:08 a.m.

Thank you for the birthday blog John. I don't find thinking like that morbid. Momento mori. The Stoics suggest remembering our mortality and they encourage some stark but rational meditations. So, not infrequently, I do that and reflect that I and everyone I know will die. For me it's good because it reminds me that this is it; make what you can of it. There's no encore. When my friend and I parted last year our mutual regret was that we hadn't made more of what we had between us. We'd always thought there would be more time. Well, there wasn't. My son was over from the States last week attending a wake with 200 of his mates for their friend. That young man should have been the centre of attention at his 29th birthday, not his funeral. The birthday parties I've absolutely loved have been those when the band I'm in has been booked booked as entertainment. It is a lot of fun playing a lively rock n roll party or wedding. You sort of help someone else be the centre of attention; it's great, it's a celebration, and it's never coming this way again, so enjoy it.

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Lexi

April 12, 2022, 11:42 a.m.

Hi John, I feel like I've written too much about my dad's passing here but I guess I'm still processing his death. I definitely noticed a shift, first with his wife's passing and then his and then my mother's husband death as well, all within a year, towards recognizing my own mortality and the passage of time. It has made me both nostalgic and more aware of my time here. Birthdays also make me feel that way. Enjoy each day. See each day as an opportunity to learn, to relax, to be kind to yourself and others. xoxo Happy Birthday!

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Jul

April 12, 2022, 12:54 p.m.

Hello John I am glad you have found a way to enjoy your birthdays and make the most of them. It doesn't really matter how morbid the reason to enjoy them stems from. It's the result that counts. We each have personal histories. I have made choices deliberately the opposite to those my parents made and I can see this same pattern with our children. It might well be a generational thing. However I hold the same values and principles as my parents but just do things differently and am more generous with our children than my parents ever were with me. I am sorry that you experienced premature deaths in your family. That experience must surely have changed your outlook on many things. I'm glad it has had a positive benefit for you, the living! Great to see your name on today's blog and happy birthday John. Jul xx

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Patty

April 12, 2022, 2:05 p.m.

John, I had to write because my husband's birthday is today too. He turns 70, which kind of hits me. He is 8 years older than I am and it feels like he is getting really up there. We are both getting to the upper parts of our lives. My father passed a year ago and my mom is 87. It is a new feeling being the older generation. It kind of just happens to you. It makes you see you need to cherish this time in life, especially with your family. Happy Birthday!

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Bearofliddlebrain

April 12, 2022, 7:10 p.m.

Sorry to hear about your father, Patty. Mr. Bear and I have no parents left - my Mum was the last to die, eight years ago. It’s awful that we have to be the grown ups instead! Sometimes not ready for it - but then my body says differently!! Hold on to your Mum - you are lucky to still have her. She must miss your father very much. "Hippo birdie two ewes" to your husband! A cracking good age! Love and Bear hugs x x x

Patty

April 12, 2022, 2:23 p.m.

Oh yah. I forgot to say. My husband just looks at his birthday as "just another day" whereas I look atv70 ad a milestone.

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Ginny

April 12, 2022, 5:05 p.m.

Thanks for this and Happy Birthday. I have just turned 65 and I think it is never too late to change. As you said life is too short (we need to be reminded of that) and my plans are about the same as yours. I think those of us with a mental illness have more empathy towards others, so I will be looking after myself so I can look after others. It hasn't always been the case. I used to look after others but not myself, but that becomes counter productive when we burn out and can't help anyone, even ourselves. My husband says I get too involved with other people and would probably prefer it if I didn't help people, but I am me and I will always care about others. He can be who he wants to be, solitary, serious (definitely puts himself first). I didn't realise that until recently, since he has been retired. He was in the Navy and is very regimented. Has a very set routine, and makes sure he is ready for everything really early. I am totally scatty, I hate routine but I would still like to be organised sometimes. I have digressed, as I usually do. I will read the other comments on here now to see if I can pick up any tips

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Mary Wednesday

April 13, 2022, 6:25 a.m.

We have no promise for tomorrow, so let us make peace with today, so we can die without regret. Tell the people you love that you love them, and ensure your affairs are always in order. (This is something I must do. The recent death of my mother-in-law has made me consider this subject with more urgency now.) Having a religious faith, I would add, make your peace with ***. And, when you awake tomorrow, treat the day (each day) as a gift. This is another thing I should concentrate on today. I have awoken full of cold, with a tedious task ahead of me. But - the sun is shining, the birds are singing; I have a roof over my head, breakfast inside, and enough petrol to get where I'm going. And, most of all, I am not in one of my depressive episodes. Life is good.

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Orangeblossom

April 14, 2022, 9:24 a.m.

Thanks for the blog John & for sharing part of your day with us. As Mary says each day is a gift & there may be a spark & glimmer of hope & joy for each day we live. This is something that I am holding onto today.

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