Embracing waves of loneliness…

Posted on September 30, 2021 by Rev. Pam Reidy under grief, loss, mourning
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Loneliness came late in the evening, past my bedtime. I wasn’t up for company, but her presence isn’t easy to ignore. She has a menacing personality, is hard to detect, and most people find it difficult to admit they know her.  At her core is a longing so powerful it can overshadow all the good around her.

 She has a terrible habit of undermining memories, can fill a room with emptiness, and stifle all desire to engage with others. 

When she dresses up to go out she wears clothes that are too big and bulky, shrouding herself from head to toe, even in the summertime. She spends an enormous amount of time and energy hiding her heart, probably because it is so broken.

Loneliness is not at all what she seems. Quiet and solitary, afraid to act, her determination to isolate herself builds an impenetrable fortress around her heart. Once she confessed that many days she cries alone, but when she has a companion cry with her, she feels freer and stronger.

Loneliness needs more friends, which is challenging because her nature is to keep to herself, feeding distorted memories, fearful of making new ones. She admits to feeling alone in a crowd. Someone needs to give Loneliness the courage to embrace new things, new people, new ideas, but alas she finds it so difficult to get out of her own way.


 Loneliness can be a near constant companion when we are grieving. People have described it as a deep hole or darkness.  With the loss of a soulmate, spouse, parent or child, loneliness can be intense. Sometimes we don’t recognize we are lonely; at other times we know it, but resist facing it. Boredom, anxiety, or an inability to stay focused can be indicators of loneliness as well as indecision, incapacity to renew relationships or engage with others.

Glorifying the past can exacerbate loneliness but visiting the past may be helpful. Often enjoying cherished memories soothes a broken heart. Memories prompt gratitude and being thankful always lifts the spirit. A word of caution though, we see things not as they are, but as we are. This is especially true of memories.

Some creative approaches can help loneliness. It may be helpful to establish a daily designated time to chat, letter write or view photos of the loved one you miss. These are popular ways of inviting them into the present. After a while, your loved one will be integrated into your new life in a more natural way. Letter writing is a non-threatening way to bring unsettling things out in the open and view them more objectively. The great thing about putting pen to paper is that we can always rip it up or burn it, destroying it once it has accomplished its purpose. Having a conversation with your loneliness is another great strategy.

Unattended loneliness is effusive of itself, by its very nature it creates more loneliness. When we embrace things, they hold less power over us; this is especially true of loneliness. When we have lost someone that was a significant part of our daily life and held a special place in our heart, we don’t “get over them”, we will always miss them, but in time the acute loneliness will diminish.  Above all,  don’t let loneliness get so overwhelming that it keeps you from receiving the love others are offering you. 





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