It all started one night because Kathy's feet were hot and she couldn't sleep. While searching the Internet to see if other women had similar symptoms or if what she was experiencing was fatal, she stumbled upon several sites telling her that she had reached her crone years and must embrace entering the final phase of her life. Having an understandably violent reaction to the word crone she looked it up in the dictionary. That night on the Internet she learned two important things:
1. Many women have hot feet and need to kick the covers off at night to cool off.
2. Crone meant exactly what she thought it did and she didn't want to be one.
According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary the word crone dates back to the fourteenth century and is a Middle English term of abuse. The dictionary under the Tools menu in Microsoft Word agrees with Merriam-Webster's and adds one additional definition: woman over forty.
Kathy found Web sites that claim the title crone hasn't always been derogatory; in pre-Christian times, old women were particularly important members of the community. Yes, we're sure they were very important members of their society but we bet they didn't like being called a crone any more than we do. Let's face it, words matter. The language that others and we use to describe our lives and ourselves as women affects us. No matter what kind of spin you put on it, the word crone still evokes an image of a withered old woman at the end of her life, and that's no reason to throw a party.
There are also Web sites that offer the advice that a woman should take time alone to make the transition to crone. Alone, so that the constant waking and the tossing of covers to accommodate night sweats can be guilt free. Alone, to deal with hot flashes and to come to terms with the chaos created by hormonal changes, as well as to deal with erratic moods that may alienate family and friends. Hang on—it's bad enough you get labeled a crone but now you're supposed to go off alone?
Certainly spending time by yourself can be meaningful and enriching, but isolating yourself to protect yourself and others from your symptoms of menopause while you embrace your inner crone doesn't seem like a positive way to deal with growing older. What about staying put and surrounding yourself with a community of like-minded women who will offer you love and support?