My grandmother once told me that when she became old, she started „closing circles of life“, one by one. These circles of life where about people who had died, activities that where no longer possible for her or that had come to an end, or places she could no longer visit.
In her room, she had a little glass cabinet hanging on the wall. There were several things inside; I don’t remember exactly what they were. She said they were symbols for things she had finished. From something that had been an important component of her life, she just retained one item as a symbol.
Her idea seems to have been connected to Platonism, something like this: while in youth, life was unfolding, with abstract forms blossoming into a rich real life, in old age this process was reversed. So the things in that glass case where not only keepsakes she could use as memories but pointers to a world of platonic forms, beyond normal reality. Since her physical abilities reduced, her life became more abstract and bit by bit shifted to a symbolic level.
I don’t think she was sad or melancholic. She had a subtle sense of humor. Maybe the act of “closing a circle of life” involved sad feelings, feelings of parting, but once finished, what remained seems to have been inner freedom and lightness. I cannot know for sure. I have not reached that age yet and I don’t know how life feels beyond eighty. Her way of mastering it might not be the way for everybody. But I think of her as a happy person.