I am The Reverend Esther Hurlburt, a Unitarian Universalist Community Minister with a passion for working with and advocating for people who are old. I am on a mission to bring back the worth and dignity to the word ‘old,’ believing that ever prevalent ageism is disgraceful.
Indeed, the ‘silver tsunami’ has hit our shores and regrettably not everyone is equipped to guide old people and their families through the transitions of aging.
I understand the realities of aging and know that no matter how hard we may try, that we will grow old unless we die first. Therefore, we must learn to grow old like we learned to grow up; that is, we learn to grow old by being each one another’s teachers and helping each other through the process.
I have been in private practice as a professional geriatric nurse case manager for twenty years. I am concerned about the pain, confusion, and stress that occur during the aging process. Some distress is the result of poor planning or the lack of knowledge. Yet the more troublesome pain is the spiritual and emotional pain that accompanies old age. Through experience I’ve learned that most of this pain is resolved in secular environments such as attorneys’ offices or courtrooms, when indeed church can be excellent venue to help families. It is possible to minimize the trauma of aging! My ministry helps congregations and families understand how to cope with these difficult transitions based on Unitarian Universalist theology of covenant and interdependence as well as the pragmatic skills needed to secure services.