“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.” – Walter Winchell
In my work as narrative therapist, I’m often surprised at the missing component of authentic friendship as part of one’s community of influence.
Whom we spend time with is crucial to our health, happiness and transitions in life.
These are principles I believe are important in friendship and especially meaningful if you are grieving.
For those of you who are caregivers, you know how important it is to find time for respite outside of your current circumstances. Which person (or people) you include in your precious time away is an important decision.
Erica asked the question at one of our recent rehearsals. “What is a good friend?” Some of the answers are shared below.
Someone Who Shows Up
As you transition through loss, you’ll need a friend who is available every week for you at a specific time and place. When you know that you can count on a person to be available – without excuse – there is something inside you that says, “One person really cares about what I am going through and is willing to be there for me each week. That’s huge!”
It’s not helpful when you hear from people, “I will give you call sometime and we can get together.” Commitment says it all. Being specific and consistent is important: “Let’s get together every Friday at 4pm.” You need a friend who shows up!
Someone Who Listens Without Giving Advice
A good friend listens without jumping in to solve your problems or give you advice. You need a friend, who is willing to hear you story and not move into their own so quickly. Many people have advice. Fewer have good and attentive listening ears. Find a good friend who listens well without jumping in with their feedback.
Someone Who Holds Confidences
When you share your journey, it’s a deep and sacred place that needs to be honored and protected. You are asking your friend to be part of something very deep. If your friend yields to temptation by sharing any part of this journey with others, even once, it can be devastating to the friendship. Trust can quickly be broken. You need a friend who promises to always keep the conversation confidential and should remind you of this promise each time you meet.
Someone Who Asks Permission
There will be times when a friend will hear something in the conversation that troubles them – you are reacting to loss and your circumstance that is changing daily and it’s not easy. We also need a friend who is strong and kind enough to point out in a gentle way those things they are noticing that may be harmful to you or needs some attention.
A good friend should ask permission to point out things that trouble them. This is a big part of caring and having important, courageous conversations, that are also filled with love and care.
Someone Who Celebrates with You and Cheers You on
You need a friend who is on your team and affirms you as you move forward in this journey that is often changing and unknown. You are figuring out this journey as you move forward, and a friend who is able to point out in a positive way all that you are doing which is significant can empower you in the midst of your changing circumstances.
You are a fortunate person, if you have a friend with some of the above-mentioned qualities. It may seem like it’s just another add-on in your life in the midst of so many add-ons. Yes, it takes time and effort to nurture a friendship, but I think we’ve all had times in our lives when we have said in hindsight, “I’m sure glad I had my friend in my life.”