Girl in a hat sitting on a log in the autumn forest. Back view.

Feeling Lonley

December 18, 2021

One of the hardest aspects of the grieving process can be loneliness. When you lose someone you love, you may begin to lose hope for the future and find it hard to enjoy any aspect of life. When you are feeling lonely, you might feel that you have plenty of connections, but what is actually wrong is that none of these connections are able to fill in the empty space that your loved one left behind.

When we lose someone we love very much, we have emotions that can be wounded and bruised and must be healed. When death comes close to us, everything else in life seems very minor. Work, money, career or dealing with people all suddenly become so insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and that’s when you need to care for yourself, more than anything in this world. Try to keep your mind busy, but don’t overdo being busy. Keeping yourself busy is good only to a point. Like everything, moderation is the key. Prioritise yourself and find a good way to pass the time that also includes time for rest, time for reflection, and time to actually learn about how you are coping with the emotions that you encounter during the healing process. Identify your loneliest times, and think of how you can alter your routines and environment to help you to cope with your pain. Don’t expect others to guess what you need, and let others know when you need a hug or you want to talk. Also communicate if and when you need to be alone, so they won’t feel rejected.

You may find that you are giving extra attention to the empty spot where your loved one should be sitting, or items filled with memories. Many of those things will have personal stories attached to them, and it is okay to keep them and share the special memories you have about those items with someone else, rather than isolating yourself. Do not be surprised if you choose to keep some items of clothing that still smell like the person you lost. You may find this comforting, and it is fine. Ask a family member or friend to assist you while sorting out your loved one items. This process may help you to let out those feelings that you have stuffed deep down inside. Separate the items you know you want to keep, and put them in some place you can enjoy seeing them to remind you of the fond memories they bring to mind. You can also let go of those things to which you are not attached. Work on acknowledging your feelings, but try not to allow how you feel to alienate you from those around you. You may think that no one really gets how much you are suffering, and maybe it is true. Only you know the truth of how you feel inside, but avoid keeping your feelings to yourself because you don’t want to bring anybody down, or burden people with your sadness. Try to spend time with caring and understanding people, and find that one person that is nonjudgmental, to tell that person your truth. Having at least one person on the planet that really knows what you’re going through can relieve you of your painful loneliness. Even you if are reluctant to turn to others, either because you haven’t learned to ask for help, or because you’re afraid others won’t know what to do with your feelings, try opening up. If you feel that a person is unfamiliar with the intensity and duration of your grief, or uncomfortable with the expression of strong emotions, find the right person that will listen to you. Find someone who knows you, and who accepts you for the wonderful person that you are. Tell them how lonely you feel. Tell them how disconnected from the world you feel. Tell them how lost you feel, and stay away from unhelpful people, who are negative or bitter, who seem only to want to bring others down with them. At any point in life, but especially in grief, we should avoid spending time with those who don’t further our growth. Even in our lowest, darkest and loneliest of times we still have choices.

The most important thing for you to know is that the grieving process takes time. If someone says that they expect you to be over it by now, or that they worry that you’re somehow hanging on to your grief, keep in mind that many well meaning individuals don’t really know what grief feels like, and no one can totally understand the relationship you had with your loved one. Always talk to someone who is supportive to you in your environment and gives your life purpose and direction. Remember that when a major loss occurs, this isn’t the time for you to make serious decisions or deal with other issues that may produce anxiety or be emotionally upsetting. Accept that it will be especially difficult to have the energy to put yourself out there after loss. Take it easy, be compassionate with yourself and start small. Think of something that will have a positive impact not only for you, but for the people around you as well. Being motivated by the feeling of giving back can be what gets you feeling less lonely after your loss. Find a cause that you are interested in. Know that like-minded people can be found there, and helping those less fortunate can be a wonderful way to get out of our own head. Know that it really doesn’t hurt to try, and the only thing you stand to lose is some of the loneliness you have been carrying with you.

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