In the self-help model, you are your ‘Youniverse’. By contrast, generativity suggests that midlife’s rewards are the end products of hard work that displaces ‘you’ from the centre of your world. In other words, generativity is not something you can achieve in isolation. It is a process in which some kind of mirror is essential. Braun Levine seems to grasp this, putting family dynamics into the mix when arguing that women empower themselves by channeling the midlife storm. Viewed this way, development is relational, negotiated, a trade-off of one thing over another. But even Braun Levine, at the sophisticated end of the self-help movement, does not want to acknowledge that, before any kind of development (let alone re-birth) can occur, a process of mourning or grieving is essential. This mourning takes varied and complex forms: but among them is self-burial.

Marina Benjamin, “My Daughter, Myself”