I remember when Marilyn took a trip to Florida.
I am so lonely that it hurts. I can’t get away from it. No matter where I go, no matter what I do I still feel terribly alone. Maybe if I travel I will find a spot that allows me to feel better. Maybe just changing my spot will help.
Marilyn came back from Florida bitterly disappointed.
The loneliness followed me. I can’t get away from it. When I was away I was even lonelier. Everyone was having a nice time vacationing and I was left alone in the middle of happy people.
Poor Marilyn learned the “expensive way” that feeling lonely has nothing to do with where you are. It is an emotional state that attaches itself to you and becomes a part of you after someone that you love dies.
Most really important relationships are close on many levels. There is the emotional connection that we develop and nurture, usually over many years. There is the duration and familiar connection that grows as we spend time together and in many cases there is also a physical bond.
Sometimes that’s a sexual connection and sometimes it’s just a being together as two people who depend on each other and who support and care for each other.
When someone dies where you have had that kind of close, attached, connected relationship, there is no replacing the emptiness and no solving the huge lonely spot.
Anthony compared losing his brother to losing a limb.
He was a part of me. We were always together. Even when we weren’t together we were in each other’s thoughts. We spoke on the phone or sent text messages to each other several times a day. He was my brother, my friend and my other half. I would have rather lost an arm or a leg. I could have gotten used to that. How will I ever get used to being without Joseph?
Sadness is a feeling. Loneliness is a feeling and more. It is also coming face to face with the stark reality of being left without someone who was very important.
Loneliness is what you are left with after someone you love dies and it is very painful and difficult to deal with.
There is often a physical hurt that goes with feeling very lonely. Loneliness can be expressed as a physical aching or craving that won’t go away or that has no cure.
Those who have experienced this will tell you that there is a physical gnawing to missing a loved one.
Rose told me that she actually hurt when she thought about Phillip.
I could keep myself fairly busy during the day doing mindless things. House cleaning, grocery shopping and errands took up my time. At night things became almost unbearable. The quiet and the feeling of uselessness and emptiness were overwhelming. I can’t describe it exactly. It hurt in the back of my head and in the pit of my stomach. I know that sounds strange but the pain was real.
I have known some people who get a pet to keep them company. Dogs and cats can be wonderful companions but don’t fill the spot of the person who is gone.
In time and with a great deal of hard grief work the acute pain of being lonely will become manageable.
All you can do is acknowledge your feelings and the pain of the place you find yourself faced with.
When those who care about you offer to visit or try and coax you to join them don’t be surprised if even when you are in the company of others you still feel lonely.
Push yourself to participate when you can and if there is a listening ear, tell your friends and those who reach out to you what it’s like and how you feel. In time and with expression, the agony of alone will fade.