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If you’re reading this and are a person of a certain age, whether widowed, divorced, single or married, the value of friends is a truism.

I’ve written about The Transition Network (TTN) before (thetransitionnetwork.org) but it’s such a valuable organization that it’s worth writing about again.

When I moved to Manhattan almost 4 years ago, I hardly knew anyone. A woman I met in a memoir writing class told me about TTN. I checked out their website, looked at all the activities they support, paid the membership fee of $100 per year and joined.

TTN is a community in NYC of about 600 women (there are chapters in many other cities as well) and includes countless peer groups and “special interest groups” focused around particular member interests.  I’m in 3 peer groups that meet once a month in the apartments of one of the (typically) 8-9 members and we discuss different topics that have some relevance to us as women over 50 living in NYC.  My special interest groups includes one that is called “Travel Mates” (which has a long list of TTN members interested in travel who can be contacted by anyone in the group planning a trip and looking for company) and “Culture Mavens” (which also has a long list of TTN members who can be contacted if you’re looking for someone to join you for a museum, theater or movie excursion, for example).

TTN also includes the option to join The Caring Collaborative, to which I also belong, and which is primarily neighborhood based.  We also meet once a month in someone’s apartment on the Upper West Side and, over wine and appetizers, discuss an interesting topic with some relevance to our lives,  health or well being. Because we are neighborhood-based, the idea is that we are available if any of us need someone to ‘get our back’ in an emergency : a visit to the ER, a trip back home from a colonoscopy, etc. You get the idea.

The drawing shows 12 of our 15 person Caring Collaborative Group meeting recently at my place to discuss the topic: “Who Was the Most Influential Person in Your Life”.  I think we all agreed it was an extremely interesting evening and reminded us all of the importance of social connections as we get older.

 

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The leader of a bereavement group I joined 6 years ago had been widowed 17 years.  At that time, I had been widowed about 3 months. As 15 of us sat in a circle one evening toward the end of our 6 week, once-a-week meeting session at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan, she announced that she was no longer sad.  She said the void left by her husband’s death had been filled by many friends and family members.

I listened very skeptically and wondered how that could ever be true for me.  It is slowly coming true.

I have made many new friends in the past 6 years whom I’ve met traveling, in classes and programs I’ve taken, as part of organizations I’ve joined and who are neighbors.  I have also renewed friendships from high school and college which have since deepened as we confront our years as senior citizens.

In an earlier post I mentioned The Transition Network (thetransitionnetwork.org) as being particularly helpful in my effort to fill that large void left by my husband’s death.  The organization functions to help women over 50 deal with life’s transitions, whether they have become widows, or are experiencing a divorce, a job change or a physical move.  There is a chapter in New York City with about 500 women which offers different peer groups and special interest groups.  There are also chapters in other parts of the United States as well.

I am in 4 different peer groups or special interest groups and have become acquainted with about 60-70 women. Among the nicest aspects of these groups is the opportunity to find friends with whom to have lunch or dinner, see a movie, go to the opera or see a play.  I have a theater subscription this fall to see 3 plays that 5 other women are going to as well.  I also have an opera subscription to see 3 operas with another group of women.  And opportunities to go to see a movie or have dinner are plentiful.  One person in a group may send out an email asking if anyone is interested in seeing a particular movie on a particular day.  That almost always results in company.

Tonight, 3 of us from one of my groups are going to see “Grandma” and have dinner afterwards.  It should be a lovely evening and I’m very much looking forward to it.