Older women often describe themselves as well in spite of being objectively in poor health. Such a view of self as resilient can sustain women through the process of becoming older. Drawing on recent research, I discuss how a sense of resilience in later life may be informed by memories of loss and coping in the past. Through selective memories, women informants constructed a story of coping, one that provided a buffer against the challenges of ageing, including deleterious changes in health status. The concept of 'resilient ageing' is contrasted with that of 'successful ageing', with the former providing a way of understanding how an older woman can come to view herself as well in spite of illness or disability. In contrast to the reductionism of the concept of successful ageing, resilient ageing enriches the understanding of the complexity of later life and the wisdom that can accompany that understanding.