In my culture, after a person has passed away, we have a 3 day “open house” type event where people come to pay their respects to the family. Usually there is food, tea & coffee and lots of whispering. It is not intended for people to stay a long time, but some do.
When my parents passed, both times I found myself longing for peace and quiet. I found myself wanting to be alone instead of “entertaining” people.
I just wanted time to reflect on the events leading up to both of their deaths. I wanted time to mourn their deaths.
When my father passed, I got so overwhelmed, I snuck out of my own home and went for a walk around the block.
However, even with family and friends constantly surrounded me, I still felt lonely.
Fast-forward 2 weeks and a pin drop could be heard echoing around the house. The sounds of birds chirping were suddenly magnified in every room.
What was once a family home had now become a ghost town. Family and friends suddenly returned back to their “normal” lives. Like you would expect them to.
But then you find yourself even lonelier.
When my mum first passed away, it was like someone had hit mute on the house remote… she was the life of the house. She was my best friend. She was everything to me.
When she passed, I felt like I was all alone on a deserted island. There was nothing or no one that could feel the gap that she left.
When someone close to you dies, it is hard to get that feeling of loneliness to go away. It haunts and stays with you for awhile.
Sometimes the loneliness comes because you find that know one can relate to you – they might not have experienced losing someone close to them. Sometimes the loneliness sets in because you’re craving what you once had.
But like everything to do with grief, the loneliness is a result of adjusting to this new life you have and all the new changes that come from it.
With that in mind, I have put together a few helpful tips that have helped me cope with feeling lonely.
It is a state of mind
Feeding yourself thoughts of self-pity and helplessness are not helpful. Telling yourself “Oh I feel so lonely” or “ I am all alone” only manifests this state you’re in for longer. It stops you from moving forward and brings you down even deeper into a dark hole.
Ways to change your thought process can include telling yourself:
- this is only temporary
- It is normal to feel like this after ____ has passed but I won’t feel this way forever
- Even though I still feel lonely when I am around other people, it would be good to see___
It is very easy to stay in a dark place if you don’t take action to change it. It is easier to stay in your pyjamas all day, watch T.V. and cry about missing your loved one but in the long run that really wont help you on your grief journey.
It is up to you to take control of your life because nobody is going to do it for you.
Taking action can include:
- Organising to meet up with someone for a social outing. If you feel like it would be too much to start with, than start with something small like meeting a friend for a coffee date. You can tell yourself, I might still feel lonely but at least I will be in company of a friend/ family member I love.
- Getting yourself dressed and going for a walk or walking around the shops. Sometimes changing your environment is all you need to get you out of your own headspace.
Find a support group
There can be a number of benefits to finding a support group that is not just about combating loneliness.
Being a part of a group where you can talk and get out your emotions with people that know what you are going through helps to eliminate that feeling of loneliness.
If you can’t find a support group in your local area, maybe consider creating your own group.
Get a new hobby or activity.
After my father passed away, I suddenly felt like I wanted to take up running as a hobby. Even though running 5kms was one of my life goals I don’t know why I felt like I needed to do that right after he passed away. But none the less, I started running. I went from being a person that couldn’t run for 2 minutes without getting puffed to being able to run 5kms a month later.
Now I’m not advising you to take up running, but find something that you will love to do on a daily basis. If you’re not sure what that is just yet, then it could be the perfect time to experiment with different hobbies.
Again, start small. Commit to walking in a local park 2 times per walk and then build on from there.
My main takeaway points from this post are –
While loneliness is a normal reaction to loss it is important to recognise it is a feeling and a moment in time. It is not how your life is going to stay and be forever, and it too is a part of your grief journey.
If anything resonated with you, or you would simply like to say hi, please do so in the comment section below.
And remember, you might feel lonely but you are not alone.