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The Life-Sustaining Value of Female Friendship During Covid

By Romney Humphrey September 29, 2020 Health and Fitness

For most women, friends form the basis of our well-being. Sure, our partners may be on the front line, but, particularly for women over 60, friendships have great emotional heft. They form the basis of our social life and contribute greatly to the health of our psyche. These days? I cherish the life-sustaining value of female friendship.

First Response: Panic

When Covid crisis began, one of the first things I did was form an email community of various friends from all over the country. How were we coping? What strategies helped? Where were we, day to day, in this extraordinary journey?

Women shared stories, pictures of gardens and baking endeavors, art projects and poetry written on the cuff. We all offered encouragement to the group for what we thought, or hoped, would be a temporary experience. Then, we adjusted.

When reality settled in, the newsletter began to wane as we fully comprehended what living a life during the pandemic would mean. There was an unspoken understanding that the postings would lessen as we made our adjustment to the sadness and disbelief of the next phase.

How to Connect

Now, six months in, it is still my female friends (plus my lovely husband), who get me through the week. We’ve begun a new incarnation of connection.

Like many, I use FaceTime, sometimes on a regular basis, sometimes when I just have to see another face besides that of my husband to share this crazy journey. I have once-a-week Zoom/cocktail hour with ‘The Tribe’, a small group of women I’ve known for decades.

My book club zooms, as does my writing group. I also have real phone calls, voice to voice, with several friends who prefer that form of connection. There’s something about listening to a friend’s voice and focusing on the words, rather than staring at them in this new electronic living room, that’s intimate and satisfying.

Outdoor short cocktail hours or visits six feet apart reached a peak during the summer, but always with those who share the same philosophy about safety and protection.

Being Selective with Connections

I’m reaching out, but often more selectively. Women I’ve cared about, but never fully committed to having one-on-one time with, are revealing themselves to be vital to the involuntary journey we share.

I’ve had deeper, more meaningful conversations with those women, whom I have come to know more intimately than ever. Sure, we talk about coping strategies, but we’re also discussing the true meaning of life, exploring our perspective on how we really feel about death, and how we prioritize daily practices and emotional touchstones.

These were not pre-Covid conversations, but the layers of measuring life differently, more profoundly, during this time, have been extraordinary.

Nature Dictates, We Work with Her

I live in the Northwest, and we’re all dreading the fall, usually my favorite season, because we know it means rain and weather that won’t allow for outdoor distance visiting.

Many of us won’t see our grandchildren until next spring. I’ve had six months of outdoor visits, masks on, and only hugs after two of the children had isolated for two weeks. Those hugs were outside and still with masks, but they were delicious, and will get me through some upcoming tough moments.

I am so grateful for technology, allowing us all to stay in contact when weather doesn’t provide the luxury.

We’re lucky enough to have a covered deck. I bought a couple small heaters, an outdoor rug and festive lighting. I don’t know how excited our friends and family will be to gather there occasionally, but it’s worth a try.

I’m already trying to figure out how to have a Christmas tree in our garage with both doors open. Likely, we’ll all just Zoom Christmas this year.

The Winter of Our Discontent – Will It Change Communication?

Bottom line, winter looms for most of us not blessed by year-round sunshine. This means talking more about books, exchanging soup recipes, and discussing how to sustain careers based from home.

We’ll continue to Zoom, text, and email as the long, dark winter shades the skies with charcoal, threatening our already dampened spirits. I will call Judy, who, as an organizational development coach, always contributes a global perspective on all subjects.

On Zoom, Book Club will raise our glasses and add yet another half hour to the conversation. Virtual coffee dates, as rain or snow pelts our windows, will continue to sustain my emotional well-being. And playing cribbage online with my dear friend Jan has become a mainstay of my new social rhythm.

I’ll try to remember to practice gratefulness throughout the day for my many blessings. And, these connections, however they happen, with my women friends, are always a source of comfort, support, and, yes, joy.

Before Covid and after Covid, I am, and will always be, grateful for the glorious phenomenon of female friendships.

What can you share about the power of female friendships? Have your women friends helped you cope with the pandemic? What do you think winter will have in store for you? Let’s have a conversation.

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The Author

A nationally produced playwright and former media writer/producer, Romney Humphrey is the author of the humor/memoir "How I Learned I'm Old" and the blog "Female Formed" about the impact of female friendships. Her new book, “Women I’ve Loved – Lessons from Friendships that Changed a Life,” is now available in stores and online.

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