Here’s one of the health losses that’s never mentioned: No one ever talks about the way changes in health, lead to changes in our relationships. My friend, Laura Lee Carter, shares her experience below.
How health losses can lead to changes in friendships
by Laura Lee Carter
Unfortunately I have begun to experience a few serious health problems in my 60s, after decades of excellent health. These losses, most of them permanent, have caused me to observe the different ways my friends react to my change in health status, with special attention to my primary caregivers.
Here are seven changes I have observed over the past 10 years:
1. If your health loss is great, friends may fear that your misfortune is somehow contagious.
2. You may seem like a very different person after a serious illness or injury, like a brain injury or COPD.
3. Friends may tire of hearing about your loss and prefer the old happy you.
4. Friends may tire of helping out, worker burnout.
5. Certain friendships may be connected with one of your favorite activities, one which you can no longer do.
6. Friends may not understand your own special connection with a certain activity and therefore not understand that you are grieving its loss. For example, the loss of health that leads to your inability to take long walks or runs. That activity may have given you great physical and emotional satisfaction.
7. Some friends may be looking for an excuse to leave the friendship. This disability may make the break easier for them.
Of course, I felt some sense of disappointment as my illnesses and disabilities caused various friends to disappear from my life, forcing me to acknowledge that all friend connections are not the same. Let’s face it, most friendships aren’t meant to last forever.
Yes, I do find myself grieving sometimes over lost friendships. Illness or injury may test friendships, helping us to separate the wheat from the chaff. Not everyone we have developed a friendship with will be willing to help us in our hour of greatest need. Knowing who we can absolutely count on is a lesson we learn as we age.
Laura Lee Carter has worked as a professional writer for the past 12 years. Her blog: Adventures of the NEW Old Farts, documents her recent retirement to a rural setting in southern Colorado. She is the author of five books on midlife change, psychology and how country living changes you.