Have you ever had such a good time with friends that you laughed so hard it hurt? You know that kind of laughter that’s almost cathartic? That almost makes you cry? Heck, you might even snort. Not me of course, I never snort. Much. Well, I just experienced that at a girls’ night out with a group of my long-time girlfriends.Because of our move, I don’t see them as much as I used to. But somehow, we just pick up and carry on as if nothing has changed. I’m so fortunate to have these friends, and it made me think about the importance of friendships in our midlife years.I’ve always believed that cultivating and maintaining friendships in midlife is as important to your health and well being as eating right and exercising. Lunch dates and girls’ nights aren’t silly or trivial. They’re vital and necessary. According to this study, spending time with friends may help decrease stress levels! Here’s a few ways I believe that friendship is so important to us in midlife:
- A strong support system is important as we navigate the bad times and trials of midlife. Friends offer compassion and prayer as our parents age and get sick and leave us, one by one. They give you strength when you need it the most. Our journey is ours alone, but it doesn’t mean we have to BE alone while we’re travelling it. I don’t think I could have gotten through the deaths of my parents without my friends. They listened when I needed to vent, encouraged me as I grieved, and hugged me when I needed to cry. They prayed for me when I desperately needed it, offering grace and love.
- Sharing and celebrating life’s special occasions with our friends makes us feel like a part of a community. It’s such a special feeling to know that people you care for also love your family, and are as excited as you are when children graduate high school and then college, get married, and then as grandchildren are born. I get so excited when I find out that my friends are expecting their first grandchildren, and can’t wait to welcome them to the club!
- Sometimes we need help! It’s just a natural fact of aging that we need good friends to watch over us when we’re ill, require surgery or when other types of physical needs must be met. We need that network to check on us. We drive each other to appointments, bring food when we can’t get out because of the flu, help with household chores when necessary. A good friend should have a servant’s heart, and be willing to help where necessary.
- Girls just want to have fun! Whether it be a counseling session over lunch, shoe shopping with your bestie, or a dance off with girlfriends with absolutely no serious conversation whatsoever, these bonding times are essential and bring so much joy! Laughter with friends is good medicine. It’s good for us, heart and soul!
- Good friends are good for our self confidence! A dear friend will love you in spite of your flaws, and offer unconditional love that’s necessary to your self confidence. They’ll love you through thick or thin, good haircuts and bad. They’ll see you through eyes of love and compassion that will give you a sense of security and peace. Friends can fill the gap that husbands may not. My hubs is awesome, but I highly doubt that he fully understands or appreciates the aggravation that my ever-changing midlife tummy causes me quite like my girlfriends do. I’m blessed to have a “best friend”, and believe me when I say that she knows my flaws and loves me anyway! We can talk for hours about absolutely everything and nothing at all. And weirdly enough, she appreciates my offbeat sense of humor. (Thank goodness somebody does!)
I’ve found that I have several groups of friends, all of them important to me. My life-long friends I collected through years of child raising as we all grew up together. There are so many memories that tie us together. And I love my work friends I’m privileged to have from my many different places of employment through the years. When you spend 8 hours a day with people, you can’t help but develop meaningful friendships with them. These different friend groups seem to meet different needs in my life, and I love them all. I’m truly blessed!
Our journey is ours alone, but it doesn’t mean we have to
BE alone while we’re travelling it.
I recently asked a question on my facebook page about friendship in midlife. I was especially impressed by the meaningful responses. One reader said that her friend group meets every Thursday for two hours. I just love that idea! Another reader stated that she had recently made some very good friends, and though late in life, she feels. that these friendships will last a lifetime.
So what about you? What kinds of friendships do you have? Do you have a best friend? Several best friends? A group of girls you rely on for strength and encouragement? Please share! What do those friends mean to you, and how are they helping you in this chapter of your life?