by Sue Freiband
In elder years with the passing of family members, cultivating friends and friendship becomes more important. Having close friends and deep friendships is essential for positive aging, for maintaining good mental and physical health, for enjoying life.
Different kinds or levels of friends and friendship range from casual and transitory to close friends and deep friendship. Friends can live close by or far away. Maintaining close friends and deep friendship can be challenging, especially in today’s pandemic world. It takes conscious intention, effort and dedication to keep friendship alive and viable.
Effective communication is a key element for the experience to be meaningful, satisfying, and pleasurable on physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual levels. In addition, doing things together, spending time together, is essential, especially in the case of nearby friends. For friends who live far away, in addition to continued communication and connection, periodic visits are extremely important..
What kinds of expectations should one have about friends and friendship? Being able to share ideas, points of view, common interests is a central part of friendship. In addition, being able to discuss problems or concerns, to ask for advice or help, is another important aspect. Being comfortable with sharing stories, family experiences and milestones in one’s life is part of context of friendship, as is honesty, authenticity and trust.. The support offered, the deep listening, concern and caring, are invaluable parts of friendship, as is self validation, strengthening of self esteem and self confidence.