I am a wife whose husband has cancer. I am a caregiver. I also work with people who have cancer and other life-limiting illnesses, and with their caregivers. I work with the grief that comes with caregiving and death that may follow.
As we age, we often find it harder to make friends. Many of the friends we still have are those we made as children, teenagers, or as adults with small children.
The world is changing for 60-year-old women. We no longer have the social context that we enjoyed as a wife, parent or co-worker. Building community and creating a network of like-minded friends is a challenge, but not impossible.
A few years ago I had a long term friendship come to an end. Four decades of love, laughter and jokes, gone. I felt as though someone had removed a part of my heart. However, that experience both taught me important life lessons as well as opened many new doors. Here’s what I learned:
Co-living is a new way of looking at independent living in a community. This is a new lifestyle of communal houses created and run by their residents.
Friendship matters more than ever as we get older. Friends keep us active and engaged. They keep us connected to the world around us.
Recently, I thought about the many possibilities available all around the world where one can find meaning and connection while serving others. Many people believe their world narrows after a certain age which is true when you lose connection.
At the risk of sounding like I’m advocating that you become one of those unaware old folks who try to engage strangers – inappropriately, in extended conversations – I’m going to say this anyway: “DO talk to strangers.”