The value of friendship and a new sense of family…

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Image credit: Emerging Gently.

Over the last six or so years since my parents died, and some major changes happened in my life, I’ve come to realize the true value and meaning of friendship. When you lose all of your immediate family, your sense of family undeniably changes.

For most of my life, I’ve always had a small, but close group of friends. As one who is somewhat introverted, I’ve never been one to have a lot of friends. In elementary and high school, it was usually a close group of around four to six friends, with different people entering and leaving the picture at various times. I’ve always been very particular about who I consider to be a friend, who I trust; and those who are my true friends are people I would go to the mat for at any time.

As I grew older, and my family relocated to another city shortly after I finished high school, I lost touch with my friends from those days. In college, it was a completely new circle that surrounded me, some of whom I remain in close contact with, others I’ve lost touch with. Since I attended Principia College–a college that only admits Christian Scientists as students, it’s been my college friends who’ve also left Christian Science whom I have tended to remain closer to, although some who remain in Christian Science also remain close and supportive.

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Image source: Google image search.

Now, friends have filled some of the holes left in my life from the deaths of family members. My Dad was someone I would go to for almost any sort of advice, and there was rarely anything I wouldn’t talk to him about. Now, there are various people in my current circle of friends who fill that role in various ways, depending on what I’m dealing with. Then, there are others who simply give me the comfort of their presence in my life, much the way my mother was.

Family is not necessarily limited to those with whom you share DNA. I know a few people who had less than ideal childhoods who will have nothing to do with their ‘blood’ families, and instead surround themselves with close friends who are their ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’, and I’m proud to be a ‘brother’ to more than a few friends like this. I am grateful that I did have a healthy and close relationship with my family, and continue to do so with my aunts, uncles, and cousins.

For me, since I no longer have immediate family, I have come to deeply value the friendships that have filled the voids left by my parents’ deaths. Never limit your definition of family. You’ll miss out on something wonderful if you do.

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2 thoughts on “The value of friendship and a new sense of family…

  1. That’s great for you, but for me family and friends are different, yes both can provide support and both can provide emotional closeness, but they’re not exactly the same thing and the differences are important – to me, and to others. My family have disowned and rejected me in the past, (due to religious issues), and I was deeply upset and offended by counsellors I confided in dismissing the extreme hurt and trauma of that by saying that I could replace them with friends, (as if, everyone is even able to make friends, anyway). If you ever have a friend, or a new acquaintance confide in you their pain that their parents and family are dying, or, have disowned them, please, please, please don’t say, “Well, you could substitute them with friends”, or you could very deeply hurt them. My parents were, and are, my one and only parents, their love was and is of a deepness and a unique nature that is irreplaceable, and while I think it’s in some ways great when people can’t tell the difference between their parents and friends as far as how they’ve related with both goes, that’s very much not the experience that I and others have or believe in, because our experiences of life are just drastically diifferent and I don’t even want to go into why, that’s just how it is. My dad used to say, “You can have a million sweethearts, but you’ll only ever have one dad”, and he was right, God Rest his deeply mourned soul. And, by the way I don’t think even friends can replace other friends – most are unique and irreplaceable.

  2. That’s great for you, but, for me, family and friends are fundamentally two different things; yes, friends can also provide support, and friends can also provide emotional closeness, but, they’re not exactly the same as family members, and, the differences are important, to me, and I know to many others. My parents, in particular, are irreplaceable to me – their love was, and is, of a depth and a nature that there’s no comparable substitute for, no equivalent to. When I was young, my family threatened to disown me, (it was over religious issues), and I was deeply hurt by counsellors I turned to in search of help over that dismissing the pain and trauma of it by saying, “Well, you can make a new family out of friends”, (as if you everyone can even make friends, anyway). I think it’s great when people can’t tell or feel the differences between how they relate to their friends and how they relate(d) to their parents and family of origin, and, what’s there for them with both, but I know for many like me it’s not like that and it’s not a choice, but just something that just seems apparent to us as unchangeable or almost certainly probably so, and I don’t want to go into why, but it just is. If you ever have someone you don’t know so well confide in you their pain that their family have died or disowned them or are likely about to do either, then if you’d be inclined to say, ‘Well, you could make a new family out of friends”, then please, please, please, please don’t, or you could deeply wound them as I was wounded by my counsellors saying that. Because when people in deep pain and trauma reach out to others over it, it can be very wounding and anti-helpful to receive a lack of acknowledgement of and basic understanding of your pain.

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