trans-generational relationships, loneliness, friendship, life transitions

Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

© 2006 Wellness Clubs of

“Where have all the flowers gone?” asked the folk song popularized in the 1960s. “Young girls picked them, every one,” was the answer. The young girls went to young men, who became soldiers, who went to graveyards, which went to flowers for young girls to pick.

Life, like the song, is cyclical when viewed from a distance. Children who pick flowers become young men and young women who become parents who become grandparents who go to graveyards, which become flowers for children to pick. Generation follows generation in a never-ending cycle of life and death.

Life for each of us as individuals, however, is not cyclical. It is linear. We are born, pass through childhood into adulthood on into what are called the “golden years” and somewhere along the way we die.

I recently stopped by to see a delightful lady whom I have known for many years. She is now in her mid-eighties. She has survived two husbands and now lives alone. Since she doesn’t drive, she finds herself quite isolated from the outside world.

“I’m lonely,” she acknowledged during the visit, “Where are the other people my age?”

The sad truth is that most, in the words of the song, have gone to graveyards, every one. Some of the survivors are in assisted living centers or nursing homes. Those who, like her, are still capable of living on their own rarely know or see each other.

Loneliness will eventually kill, as surely as a sniper’s bullet. It is simply a slower process. If we wish to remain happy and healthy throughout our lives we must take steps to avoid it.

One of life’s cruelest realities is the fact that spouses rarely die simultaneously. In most cases one will outlive the other. When one partner dies the social circle of the survivor is often dramatically changed. Activities and friendships that are the part of the life of a couple do not necessarily translate into the life of a single person.

Given the fact that life is uncertain and that spouses die, it is important to develop relationships and pursue activities as an individual beyond those mutually enjoyed with one’s partner. These are the anchor points that will remain stable in the storms of life and facilitate the transition should you suddenly find yourself living without your spouse.

It is also important to develop trans-generational friendships. This is the only way to ensure a lifetime of meaningful relationships. If we live long enough most of the people our age will have gone to graveyards. We must have friends in other age groups to sustain us.

Trans-generational relationships are not simply a way of ensuring friendships in later life; they are mutually beneficial along the way. The younger person will benefit from the wisdom of the older, and the older individual will be recharged by the enthusiasm of the younger. Both will find themselves richer as a result of having spanned the generation gap.

Life for each of us is not cyclical, but linear. We cannot stop the progression of time. We can, however, enjoy rich, rewarding friendships each step of the way and make a significant contribution to the lives of others from the cradle to the grave provided we are willing to step out and develop interests and relationships beyond the artificial boundaries of age and physical appearance.

“Where have all the flowers gone? Where are all the people your age?” The answer depends upon your perspective. After all, age is simply a state of mind. The people who are your chronological age may be in a far different place than the people your attitudinal age. Learn to recognize the difference. Your life depends upon it.

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