(surely an iconic image for our age cohort)

After 70, we are all in end-of-life territory, with little or no idea when our personal threads will run out. We know more and more people who have Passed Over, or are in extremis or seem to be headed there. We put our own personal faith in one or more models of action: medical, spiritual, hoping, ignoring, deal-making, jesting... The available palette of emotions includes denial, anger, repentance, determination, resignation, sorrow, grief, curiosity, terror... We think much more than formerly about our current and past relationships, their many significances, things unsaid and undone, or said and regretted. We may find it difficult to manage cutting slack for the sensibilities of others, especially when they seem to contradict our own preferred versions. We may work to prepare ourselves, via due diligence: sorting out the material, totting up the immaterial, reading the works of Atul Gawande and Sherwin Nuland, seeking out comforting texts and practices, and revisiting the Big Questions whenever there's another Exit among our acquaintanceship. Perhaps we even manage to talk about the unspeakable with our loved ones.

Those whom I read as humanist absurdists seem to have a good handle on the whole thing: Kurt Vonnegut ("So it goes" is Vonnegut at his most succinct), Douglas Adams, Mark Twain, George Carlin, Monty Python, Jeff Lebowski... Or you might just re-read The Velveteen Rabbit.

Personally, my favorite visions are those of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, though I can't decide which is the more pleasing.