“The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.” Hubert H. Humphrey
Friends are vital to the human experience. Friends come at many different times in our lives – some are with us for a short time, others are lifelong relationships, and all sustain us through the good and bad times.
The Greek philosopher Aristotle in 384 B.C. classified friendships into three different types: Friendships of utility, friendships of pleasure, and friendships of the good. A friendship of utility is based on the benefits that each side can offer the other. Business partners, classmates from school, and work colleagues are some examples. A friendship of pleasure includes common interests, such as when people who enjoy sporting events go to games together. Finally, a friendship of the good is a friendship based upon respect and appreciation of the other person’s strengths and weaknesses. Friendships of utility and pleasure can come and go in your lifetime. You may move, or not be interested in a hobby that had originally brought you together. The other person may lose interest in what your common bond was, and these friendships tend to fade away. Friendships of the good, however, are hard to find and sustain. If you have one or two good friends in a lifetime, you are blessed.
We all find friends in different places. From our first friends who may be our sisters or brothers or cousins, to friends from school, work, church, or different organizations that we belong to. When we are young it is easier to make friends. At school, camp or playing sports you find people that you have things in common with and friendships are born.
As adults, making friends can be more challenging. You might have your friends from work, but people change jobs much more frequently these days. More people than ever are working from home and moving to a new city can be challenging to find new friends as adults. Often the advice to join a group, volunteer, or take a class is offered in order to help adults meet new people and form friendships.
Being diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma is a life altering diagnosis that can put you in contact with people who you never would have met otherwise. Over the years we have been witness to some friendships of the good develop. One was a friendship that spanned eight years with two people that lived in different parts of the country, had a difference in age of 15 years, one was a man and one was a woman. What started as a friendship of convenience ended up being one of the most meaningful relationships in both of their lives.
When a person is diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, one of the last things on their mind is forming a new friendship. True friendships, however, can sustain us when times are rough.
“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” Albert Schweitzer