Updated: Oct 7
I hear it from my clients so often. “I am doing ok, but I just feel so lonely.” If you are feeling this way, you are one of many who has loved deeply. It makes sense to feel lonely, especially this day and age when every other person we meet is lonely for one reason or another. The paralyzing thing about being lonely is that sometimes it can snowball leaving you more and more unable to change how you feel. Often, we think that if we have lost a partner, we will never stop feeling lonely. Let us think about this for a moment.
Being alone and feeling alone are two quite different things. When a partner dies, we are left with both, being alone and feeling alone. This is most intense during heave periods of grief or waves as they are often called. How do we separate being lonely from being alone? Do you think that we are bound to be victims of our circumstances? We do not choose to lose a partner; we have no control over life’s cruelties and disappointments. Living alone, your loss might often feel overwhelming and lonely. How many times have you been surrounded by people and still felt alone? How many times have you been alone and felt completely comfortable? As you progress in processing your grief, you will come to understand the difference between feeling lonely and being alone. Perhaps you are coping with being alone or feeling lonely by working on projects, helping others, taking a class, or spending time with friends; you might even spend countless hours in social media trying to fill the void. I am here to tell you there is nothing wrong with doing all of those. We all need to find a way to cope with what we are going through; it is when those activities get in the way of processing our grief that our healing is delayed.
Being alone will make you miss your partner; you will always miss your loved one. However, do not confuse missing them with loneliness. As you fill your life with purpose, you can reestablish the relationship you have with yourself and others. Doing this will require you to explore your identity, your environment, and your social life. Losing a partner shakes our identity, and you will need to reassemble yourself to fit your new normal. I must warn you that with great grief comes great personal growth and your heart will expand tremendously.
I could write about a million activities you could do to feel better. However, if you only want to do these with your partner, nothing will ever change. This is when the bravest side of you must show up and propel you into the new normal. Find and use those quiet moments in the evening for tranquil grief, for mindfulness, and comfort. This can be a temporary time in which to prepare for more active days and more social interaction. There will always be times and days when grief intensifies, and you feel lonely. The key here is not to stop grieving, is to have those days far and few in between as your grief changes. There will always be times when you feel your grief will never change but, remember that grief does change, and you will regain hope as your identity assembles itself again.