'Adults in the middle of life are in a different place developmentally. They are often struggling with an "awareness of mortality." This means that they are moving from the childhood acknowledgment that "people die" to a much more personal recognition that someday they, too, will die. In middle life, the awareness of time is like a Janus Mask -- looking both forward to the decades yet to live and also backward toward the time already used. The normal process of aging, as well as the deaths and illnesses of peers, contributes to this understanding. A major prompt to this painful struggle is the death of parents.
Yet the discussion suggests that this may create a paradoxical situation: As older adults may need to address the issues of their death, middle-aged children struggling with their own awareness of mortality may be deeply threatened by their parents' death and hence avoid such discussion. That same paradox may trouble adult children's end-of-life decision making as they confront the death of an older parent. Only by addressing these issues together can both generations meet their developmental needs.'