The sad reality about the loss of old friends

We all know girls in Year 9 change friends at an alarming rate but I did not expect to find myself in a similar position in my 60s.

I have just come to the end of a friendship with someone I have known for nearly 40 years. Perhaps this has been coming to an end for a while and I have been a bit slow to understand.

This has caused me to consider my changing friends over the years. Mostly it seems we have just drifted apart due to changing jobs where we say we will keep in touch but life gets in the way. I drifted away from other friends when I moved to a village outside Sydney and distance and travel times made it harder to support the friendship.

Some people, I realised, were friends when we worked together or worked in the same community group but once this common interest ended so did the contact.

Many people say that becoming single again has meant their married friends no longer invite them to functions. This did not happen to me and I prided myself on having the same group of married friends who went through widowhood, remarriage and divorce with me.

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But now one of these friendships has ended. So why do I feel so calm? Perhaps I realised that there was something about our relationship when I was always on edge waiting for the barbed comment or having to request four times not to be sent racist emails.

Joan, in her 60s, has also chosen to have no further contact with a friend of 40 years. Joan had supported this friend through a number of disastrous relationships, providing refuge, respite and care. She went straight to the regional area when her friend’s mother died as she knew V would be on her own. But then when Joan’s mother died followed quickly by her sister-in-law, V seemed to be only interested in her own needs.

So what happens in our 60s? Do we decide we are no longer willing to tolerate unhelpful behaviour such as selfishness or constant barbed remarks?

Have others experienced the end of long friendships? What was it like for you?