Permit me to introduce myself. My proper name is loneliness, but people use nicknames for me like aloneness, solitude, or isolation, which make me seem less threatening. Clearly, some people are so afraid of me they will do anything to soften the blow. Just about everyone has met me, especially those who have experienced the death of someone they love. When I am with people who have experienced any kind of loss, whether a job, home, or health, I tend to disrupt everyday life, but when with those who have experienced a death-loss, I am super strong. The curious thing is that my power isn’t usually damaging. For many people, I am a much-needed reminder of deep love, which is very healing.
When I am around grieving people, I notice that for them most everything is out of sync. They crave order, and a return to the world as they remember it before their death-loss. They hunger for the days when they seemed to move about the world easily, without care. This longing brings me closely to their side and I witness the sadness this yearning creates. My instinct is to help them, and so I stay, not to disrupt but to honor all they had. When I am with those who grieve I notice how alone they feel in a crowded room, how they feel there is no end to my presence and how they struggle to fight me off any way they can. Sometimes, they try to get rid of me by filling every empty moment or running away out of fear that I will overtake or annihilate them, leaving them as lifeless as the loved one they miss. In a way they are right in perceiving that there is no cure for the loneliness of death. I will always find them, especially on holidays, significant anniversaries, and birthdays. I will always show up, for I am not really an illness to be cured, I am a memory to be embraced, a precious sign of a relationship lived and loved, a remembrance of the joy life offered.
Because grief can become more intense over time, I hang around for a long time and trying to dispose of me by stepping up your social life or adding new things to your routine, won’t really drive me away, it just puts me in the background instead of the foreground. I will be there when that familiar ache steals your breath, when the sound of your loved one’s voice, their smell, or the telling of a favorite story about them overwhelms your heart. But remember, I am here to give comfort in the reminiscence, to nudge you into it, so that one day you are glad for the memory. I am Loneliness, the gift that reminds you of love, so that quiet joy can temper the pain of loss. I am here to remind you to be present with others and the one you love, those who are on this side of the veil and those beyond it.
I do not want to be your best friend, but truly the more you consort with me, the more you will embrace your need to grieve, and accept the precious gift I offer. It won’t be easy, but I will hold you and bless you with the presence of your beloved deceased one. Nothing can fill the hole they have left in your heart, but I am here to remind you what you had and still have in loving them.