Forever friends?

Friendships are an important consideration in planning your countdown to retirement. It is natural to want to be near to those with whom we have long standing relationships. But retirement presents unexpected challenges to friendships.

Our work friendships change when we are no longer part of the day-to-day office routine. After we retire, we have the best of intentions to stay in touch. But when our office connection is removed, our relationship changes. Unless there are sufficient non-work related ties to continue the relationship, it often withers with time. It’s a natural life progression that can be a source of sadness and depression as retirement unfolds.

In Rockland, we are blessed to have wonderful neighbors whom we consider friends. Those relationships have developed over the past four years and add great joy to our life here. They are young friendships that are continuing to develop and strengthen. But they are different from relationships we have had with friends for 20, 30, or 40 years. Yet many of those long-term friendships are changing as well.

In May, my dear friend, Pat, died. We had known each other for almost 30 years. She was the kind of friend who knew all of my secrets and faults and loved me anyway. I still reach for the phone to call and share something with her even though I know she is dead. That relationship cannot be replaced. I cannot find a friend who has shared the life experiences I went through with Pat.

We all will continue to lose family members and friends that are the keepers of our past memories and experiences. That is why it is so important to continually develop new friendships as we age. I no longer judge friendships by their length, but by the quality of connection and caring. I am more careful about who I choose as a friend nowadays. Takers, energy vampires, and narcissists have no place in my circle of friends.

There is a primal instinct to return “home” to family and friends when we retire. But that decision is not always in our best interest. While researching my book, I came across countless stories of people moving to be close to family or friends only to have them in turn move away or pass on. The relationship they based their decision upon is irreparably changed.  

When weighing options to spend more time in Rockland or Denver a friend counseled, “Do what’s right for you.” She’s right. I cannot predict the future or guarantee that friends and family will continue to be around. Basing a relocation decision on how things are now is no guarantee they will continue to be that way in the future. The key is to treasure the friendships that I have now and to continue to sow seeds for future friendships.


Kathryn Avery

About Kathryn Avery

When Kathryn Severns Avery’s husband, Chris, began contemplating retirement in 2014, she knew they had to quickly come up with a multi-faceted plan. They spent the next year discussing, sometimes heatedly, what they would do once he stopped working. On paper their plan looked exciting. They would head from Colorado to the 1891 sea captain’s house they bought and renovated in Rockland on Maine’s midcoast. But the reality of planning and implementing retirement was much different than expected. Kathryn has worked in radio, television, marketing, and public relations. She is the author of five books and has written articles on interior design and crafts for national and regional publications including Romantic Homes, Log Homes Illustrated, The Rocky Mountain News and Colorado Homes and Lifestyles.