The changing nature of friendship

Following the death of her mother, Laura Kennedy wrote the following in an article called Coping:

I went back to my favourite philosophers who write in detail about friendship.  Aristotle’s Philia is about reciprocity and respect:  a mutually improving bond.

For Epicurus, friendship is a deeply meaningful source of security and connection.  At times, he advocates suffering for your friends and expecting the same in return.

Friendship offers security from the outside world.  It seems clear that, however you define friendship, it is necessarily a mutual bond between equals.  Loss has made me older and less tolerant.  My youthful tolerance of friendship on the other person’s terms is gone.  When you find yourself alone, the people who stick around do so by choice, and not by blood.

Those who remain even when you have nothing to offer but the weakest, most anaemic version of yourself are friends.  Friendship is hard to define, but we recognise it when we see it.

Published in The Irish Times, 1 June 2016, p14