Friends, family and relationships in late life.
What is happening with my Mom or Dad and who is this new person?
A healthy life is one that gives us good nourishment for our body and social life. Each of us needs (actually requires) other people in our life to have a long and healthy life. When we are younger this part of our social life seems to take care of itself. And yes even then friends come and go forming a stepping-stone for our life’ evolution through younger years and into old age. Certainly, in our adult years we experience the loss of a friend with some tropisms, and then we move on. Even when the relationship is one of true love and significant caring, a loss of a true friend is a loss of gigantic proportions.
Experiencing loss of this type from the time we are old enough to have feelings of pleasure, one would think that by the time we are past the age of 50, we could have the foresight to work through this new perimeters of our relationship. The truth is if we have significant feelings for another in our life, we will frequently experience those unexpected feeling which accompany loss. This is a part of being human just as eating, sleeping and having butterflies when we are about to complete a new step in our life. And that experience does not change the need to work through our feelings just because we are past 50 years; actually it is very possible the feelings are even more substantial in mid to later life.
At some point in our adult life we run into the wall of our mortality. This is when we realize we are not going to live forever and our foot print is either in need of change or we are right on track. Most of us realize the need to step a little firmer or to begin a new twist in our life to give ‘US’ a feeling of leaving our mark on the world. It is certainly possible that we are satisfied with our goals and direction, but what if we die today? Or we want to leave a positive footprint; do we have the time to make this occur? And of course there are those of us who seem to be everywhere in-between.
What can we do to meet the goals we have set for ourselves? When these goals are surrounded by the common theme ‘to meet’ more people – the answer is ‘a common ground’. We can meet people almost anywhere however times have changed in the last few years and now the lady can ask the gentleman out. We can see someone at Church or in the supermarket, they may be at the park walking a dog or at a farmer’s market; the truth is anywhere we go we can meet a new person. It is also very acceptable in today’s society for people to move in together and a little hard for our children to accept.
Each of us has a need to socialize with others. We cannot live in a vacuum. There is a basic need to breath and a basic need to have friendship. This friendship’s basic need is our shadow to a physical survival need. So how do we meet this need when as life has evolved so has the loss of friendships. Most of us find new friends along the way, whether our loss be due to a relocation in our live or a need for new friends due to others relocating.
So how to make new friends later in life. Many of us have the thought ‘we can make friends today’. The fact is our methods of socializations have changed. We need to consider, as we go about making friends the impact of the Internet on our persona. We will find the places to meet and greet have also changed, from meeting at work to meeting at church to meeting on websites to meeting at social networking sites. No longer is it safe to meeting someone on a shopping (grocery or otherwise) trip, people and relationships are evolving. Meeting at a local gym or at community center is not as likely as meeting while volunteering for an organization we have a passion for. A common interest will add another element to a relationship. And for the first time in history we, the largest population have the time and drive to volunteer for an extended period of time.
The important point is to nurture our relationships and have reciprocal friendships. These are the friendships that will stay tried and true for the long run. Most people find that a friendship beginning after age fifty is, while possibly not consciously cultivated as such, a friendship we will nurture through the end of our life. These are the people we want to surround us with through thick and thin. For most of us this type of friendship is not one we have look for earlier in our life. We are now looking for friends who share like experiences and desires, although frequently not of a romantic nature, many times they turn into the love of our life, although not starting out in this direction.
Friendships that we find and cultivate later in life have different connotations with them. It is frequently (for the middle income population) a mutual desire to see an attorney to maintain separate assets for families that are grown living an adult life. Many times there will be a legal division of not only smaller assets but also personal and real property, such as the items which have strong memories attached to them. This is a positive step necessary as the family grows closer together the foundation is not quick sand but rather cement. And for the adult children of these relationships this bond is one, which will truly provide for everyone in a positive light, as long as the friendship moves forward in a mutually satisfying manner. Adult children must remember that this life is their parent’s choice and is one that gives them the opportunity to continue life in a style of their choice.
Next week: Dealing with family members that do not fit easily into our life.