How to make friends when you’re old—a poem

two older men walking together with shopping bags

And why. But you know why.
You get comfy cosy in your huddle
your bubble of old friends
and then it pops, they move away or die
and you sigh and sigh and shut yourself away

forgetting there are other people
not your darling gone friends
but people and you need them
to stimulate and irritate
and entertain and shape your day.

You are lonely. You know
that no one’s perfect
and everyone’s an only
and everyone’s a little strange
deep down.

These strangers won’t be what you’re looking for.
They may be what you’re looking at.
They may be what you need.
They are people, they are worth it.
They might put up with you
and they could be your friends.

—Rachel McAlpine 2020

Feel free to use or share the photo and poem any way you like, but always give my name as author. CC BY 2.0

This poem features in Prevent loneliness in old age. That’s Episode 9, Season 2 of my podcast, How To Be Old. You can listen to it on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.

15 thoughts on “How to make friends when you’re old—a poem

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thanks Bev. It’s a toughie.

  1. myrak says:

    Wonderful poem dear Rachel.”
    They might put up with you
    and they could be your friends.”
    Thankyou, Myra x

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      And what a blessing that is…

  2. Cathy Cade says:

    Very true… I could happily spend all day at home scribbling and reading.
    But I’ve been there. It becomes an effort to get yourself out again and interacting. And it is worth the effort.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Your account is touching. Courage is required.

  3. Good point, Rachel!

  4. Elizabeth says:

    If we are to continue to thrive we must continue to connect. New friends will never have the time to have the depth of connection of old ones, but they are much much better than no friends.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Exactly. You hit the nail on the head there, Elizabeth.

      1. Elizabeth says:

        My doctor actually told me that!

  5. Damyanti Biswas says:

    So lovely & true too!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thank you Damyanti!

  6. I could put this into the context of moving house, going to another town or even another state. We’re done this 22 times in 39 years. Having a spouse in the military is like that.

    It was very difficult to make new friends, especially with those more permanent. Some towns considered military as “nomads” and not worth getting to know. Well, I consider that their loss. We have however, made a number of very good friends scattered across the country…those who took the opportunity to get to know us.

    Here we are in our new home, new town and retirement. It’s true, already we have made more new woman friends than men. The men we are meeting are the husbands of these women and from all walks of like.

    I enjoyed reading your post and your blog.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thank you for visiting! The military life makes major demands as you say. So glad you made local friends regardless. I salute your persistence —there is so much at stake. A friend who moved to Toronto discovered a second reason for people’s reluctance to befriend her: they knew she was leaving in two years and knew they would be hurt when she left 2 years later!When she opted to live there permanently, suddenly they welcomed her. She was so frustrated. People will be people…

      1. Exactly. Some people are afraid of making friends that won’t be permanent. That’s sadly so common.

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