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I just wanted to share an article I read in the Guardian about loneliness.

Grief is difficult enough to face - but I wasn't prepared for the intense loneliness I've been dealing with.

I think this author sums it up pretty well - that lack of grounding and rootlessness, how loneliness over time can actually begin to change a person.

Here is the link - see what you think:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/may/28/emily-white-loneliness

Melina

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I battle loneliness at times...I don't hear voices, I don't know if that's what I have to look forward to or what. I do know what she says about it affecting you. I commute alone, work alone for the most part, and am home alone more than anyone should have to be. If not for my dog I really would go nuts, and yet a person really does need interaction with other people. I go to church but I even feel alone there. I know the answer is getting out with others more, but it seems the more you're isolated, the harder it is to break out of it. Tonight I'm going to a Bible Study with other ladies...whether I need it or not.

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Thank you for the link to that article, Melina ~ I read it, and frankly I found it to be a bit of a downer. It also left me wondering, "Okay. So what, if anything, did you DO about it?"

I wanted to learn more about the author, so I went to her website (http://www.lonelythebook.com/). Turns out that she has a blog, too (http://www.lonelythe...oneliness-blog/).

I found this quote (on her FAQ page) especially interesting. The question is "What was it like, talking to other lonely people?" In part, she responds:

". . . The apprehension itself is rooted in stereotypes of the lonely as socially awkward, or clingy, or depressing. Nothing could be further from the truth. Every lonely person I spoke to demolished stereotypes. I talked to people from across North America, and they were all friendly, open, and curious. Some were funny; others were droll. They came from all walks of life, but they all had one thing in common: they struggled with loneliness.

"My talks with other lonely people – people who were so totally smart and fine – made me realize that there was nothing wrong with the state, that it wasn't a mark of flawed character or horrible social skills. Rather, loneliness was something that simply happened to people, and people dealt with it as best they knew how. I enjoyed every single one of my calls with lonely people, and I think everyone I spoke to taught me something new."

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Marty, yes, I agree her book sounds pretty depressing and I did actually wonder what the point was - how she got out of it.

As Kay says, the more isolated you become, the harder it seems to break out of it. But it's not just a matter of forcing yourself to be with other people.

Often you can feel very lonely even together with others - sometimes even more so then. It's the feeling of being sort of...I don't know, like being adrift in a little boat way out in the middle of the ocean. Or walking around with a force field around you - people are there, but you can't feel them or communicate with them properly. As though you don't really exist.

This is how I feel - and maybe I'll have to feel this way for a while.

By the way - just to be clear on one point, I don't hear voices.

Melina

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Hi Melina,

I read the article you posted and have thought about it a lot since I read it. Over all I had really mixed feelings about it. First, the blog (which Marty found) seems to confuse solitude and loneliness unless I am missing something. I think solitude is a healthy choice...one we all need in our lives every day for at least a little while. We are not, imho, meant to always be with others...we need time for solitude, time to integrate, digest, discover, process and well, just be. Loneliness, of course, is a different story. I have been lonely for Bill even before he died when he could no longer interact as he once did but when he died that loneliness skyrocketed and I feel it every day...always will....I know that.

However, I still remember the day of his funeral (and I do not remember much from those weeks and months) back at our home after his burial...the house was packed with people and I was off to the side talking to Mark (our friend and physician who had walked this path with us) and saying to him that I had made a decision to get out of the house every day and not crawl under a blanket (which is what I really wanted to do). I have no idea where that decision came from as I had never missed anyone so much that I thought I would actually crawl under a blanket forever. I just knew at some level that it might be possible for me to isolate myself, curl up and die. I guess I was reassuring myself that I would not allow myself to do that. With few exceptions (a day here or there when I just needed to stay in my pjs all day or a day here or there when I was just plain paralyzed with grief and did not push myself) I have gone out just to stay in touch with people. I would go to the General Store for coffee and empty chatter with people, or to lunches that added to my waist line, events, friends' homes for meals, etc....in fact for many months, I over did it and had to go back to the drawing board and realize that I was running away from grief to some degree...even as I was also reading, journaling and doing my grief work. I knew this because I tend to lose myself if I am with people for too long a time, introvert that I am. But as I read this piece I felt this author had somehow decided to isolate herself. I kept wanting to "tell" her to get out and find just about anything to get involved with, to literally force herself to get involved, or to seek out a really good therapist to assist her in getting involved in life at some level and deal with herself....even if it felt impossible to do that...it felt like she needed to really push herself and even get help in doing that... as hard as that is. I was frustrated by the piece, I guess and it was hard to empathize with her...maybe I missed something but that is what I felt.

I think loneliness for Bill will always be present in my life and I know there will always be loneliness that comes with losing my best friend who I did so much with-(like breakfast on Sunday morning and just take it for granted that I always had someone I loved to do something and nothing with)......but I don't have isolate myself.....seems like that makes it worse. On days when the loneliness for Bill is too much, I might allow myself some time, even a day or so, to isolate but sooner or later I will reach out or someone calls or stops by. I have deliberately sought out friends who are also going through tough times: cancer, divorce, loss of a son in Iraq, etc. Do I do it perfectly....no way. Please do not hear it that way as I have "failed" hundreds of times but overall....I am doing ok with my decision. And it is a decision.I think grief can make us feel like foreigners in a society that does not get it, but I have found that there are plenty of people out there who are grieving also...and who do get it.

I know you are lonely. I understand the loneliness of missing our husbands, believe me. It is like missing my heart and soul. I only hope you can find a place where loneliness is minimized often, be with friends, and give and receive support from others.

Peace

Mary mfh

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I think I know the difference between loneliness and solitude.

What I meant about this author was that she described loneliness so well. I understood the feelings she was describing.

Seeking out company doesn't help if you also feel lonely when you're with other people. I'm not saying you shouldn't seek out the company of others, I'm just saying that loneliness can sometimes be such a core feeling, that just interacting with others won't wipe it out.

I don't really have the energy to explain this further. It's okay if people don't understand. I basically give up.

Melina

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I agree, Marty, The loneliness re Bill is the empty chair, the silent house, watching tv alone and I can't laugh or cry or talk with him about the program, the person who was always there to do anything and nothing with, the person across the table, the one who shared the load, the empty bed each night, the one who was in his workshop creating something, the person who held me when I cried without my asking, who read my mind, who was part of my entire being and I his, the one in whose life I was first and vice versa...etc. It is lonely without him. It is not just longing for him but it is lonely. It is lonely when I am tired of being with all others..no doubt about that. But, I agree, there is clearly a difference between loneliness and longing. I long for him to be here and I am lonely without him in a silent house.

I can usually, not always, find someone to do something with, but...I long for that person to be Bill. I long for his arms around me. I long to cuddle when watching a movie at home, for him to hear me in ways no one else can, to share the bird nest outside my window...so so so many things ....and that does feel different than loneliness....it feels, well...like...longing and I believe that will never go away.

Does that make sense?

Thanks for that input.

Peace, Mary

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I 100% agree, Mary, solitude is something I have always craved and had need for. Loneliness is different. Loneliness is when you need someone and do not have them. It's a feeling of being alone...for me, it means not feeling like I have needed support.

I also felt this article was a downer, like it dumped it on us and then left us without answers. (Okay, I feel lonely, NOW WHAT?)

You're right that we can feel lonely in a crowd, I often feel that way at church, when I see others connecting...but not me. For me, I feel lonely when I feel there's no one that really cares or gives a rip. Someone my age just had a stroke, her daughter will move back home and take care of her...if that happened to me, I don't have anyone who would do that. That makes me feel alone. Then there's the holidays I am alone, and I remember how it was when George was alive, and that leaves me feeling lonely. Maybe you can't force your way out of loneliness, but it does seem to help to make the effort to get out and around people more, work on friendship-building, etc. That's hard for me, I have a hard time making that first move.

Melina, I DO get it, I just don't know how to put it into words and express it properly, but I feel that way more often than I care to. Fortunately, not all of the time or I think it'd drive me over the edge.

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Ladies:

I also can relate to the lonliness. I wish I felt solitude but that is not it. I have lost my mother, father, brother and husband and I just feel sad and lonely. A feeling that I do not belong to anyone or anything. A disconnect from people and life. It doesn't really matter if I am with people or not, it is an internal feeling of lonliness and isolation. Talking about it always gets me in tears, yet I do not know what to do about it. It certainly does feel like being on a little raft in the middle of a huge ocean. I am going to talk to my new doctor about this next week. I am functioning okay just this internal feeling of being very alone. :(

Becky

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That's exactly it, Becky - feeling of disconnectedness and not belonging. It's a feeling that's different from grief. I know they're related, but what I'm feeling is somewhat different from the longing for my husband.

It's very hard to describe, but it feels as though I just don't belong in this world any more. I look at other people, hear them talking - and they seem so connected with the world, so at home in it. It's like looking through a window, being trapped behind it.

Melian

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Melina, dear, I hope you don't think you've opened a Pandora's box by introducing this topic, as I think it's an important one to explore, and I think that is why it's generating all of this discussion. I'm sure you do know the difference between loneliness and solitude, we know you don't hear voices, and there certainly is no need for you to explain your own understanding of loneliness any further (unless you wish to do so, of course).

That said, I still think loneliness is a fascinating subject. I've always been interested in the concept of existential loneliness as a normal part of being human, and there are some very good articles "out there" about it. This is just one example: An Existential View of Loneliness

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I will read the piece on existential loneliness that Marty posted (thank you) but in the meantime here are my thoughts on this. I believe existential loneliness/aloneness is different than the loneliness we are all experiencing with our losses....I think existential loneliness is something we all, as human beings, experience and live with. I believe we are all alone with our beliefs, emotions, existence, questions about the meaning of life, a certain emptiness and more. People try to fill that with relationships, consumerism, busyness and more without ever asking the questions and then they continue to have that nagging emptiness. But no relationship can fill that. Even Bill, as close as we were-like one being, could not be a clone to me, could not fill the human existential aloneness we all have. Each of us stood on the planet in our own shoes and though we could share the questions and our thinking and our values and life, in the end we each had to wrestle with them in a sense, alone, while sharing the overlap. But no one on this planet can be me. I believe, however, when we are in a close relationship where we feel heard and loved and "satisfied" and we couple that with not taking time for solitude and pondering and more and busy schedules...that existential aloneness/loneliness gets overlooked, even lost/buried in the busyness of lives and we do not sit with ourselves often enough and look at a deeper level. No one can walk in my shoes including Bill. Nor could I walk in his. Each of us has our own story, experiences, soul, being, and so much more...and in the end...we are, each of us, alone.

This is not the loneliness that we are dealing with right now but one we must come to terms with, I believe, in order to live fully and one that I think becomes more apparent and surfaces with the loss of all we had with our spouses...with having our lives turned insideout...That, I believe, is the crux of the loneliness we feel. Losing Bill, in spite of us talking about these things many many times, has really forced me NOW to look hard again at the meaning of life and in doing that, I am in hopes that it will lead me to create meaning from what my own cosmic view is. That does not mean I will not be lonely for Bill or long for him. I do and will forever..it is impossible not to. But, and this sounds pretty awful, life is bigger than my relationship with Bill as big as that was/is for me (us). Since he died I have been in touch with a kind of cosmic view and when I get still and look peacefully at this view each day (even when I am in a bad place working through something as I have been recently)....I see so so much and I know meaning for me exists in there. It is very fulfilling to ponder this....and will direct/lead me along the path I eventually choose. I am just in the middle of all this right now and am having trouble expressing it. And I am rambling...sorry.

Melina, I do understand the feeling of not belonging, feeling like you are a foreigner everywhere. I am also finding other people who feel that way also for many reasons...and there are many I am learning...they are not so obvious but they surface...Sharing with them at a deep level helps a lot. We are so used to belonging in a certain way...with the love of our lives...hand in glove...part of a team, one...and now that is gone and I weep at its absence. I also am in the process of a growing acceptance of its absence, not that I like it, so I can create a life for me after spending time reaching deep into my soul again. This sounds heady but it is truly from my soul....from my own philosophy of life. Now I will stop rambling.

Mary

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Melina,I dont post often but felt I needed to respond. I truly know how you feel. My husband Larry passed away almost 5 years ago. There is not a day that goes by that I dont miss him terribly. He had a massive heart attack and I never had a chance to say goodbye. I left to run an errand and came home to my world never being the same. He died on his Bday. He was only 52. I feel most days like I just dont belong anywhere. I am so lucky and blessed to have 2 children and many friends. But, most days I just mainly feel lonely for him!!!! Not just a man but HIM. Yes I have learned to live with the pain. It never leaves me. But I will say some days are better then others. But I always feel empty inside. My daughter is expecting my 1st grandchild. Im over the moon. But, still the pain is there because he isnt here to be excited with me! Im living my life and trying to go on. But, it will never truly be what I want. I wish I felt like I belonged somewhere. I only tell my bestfriend and Mother inlaw how I truly feel. They seem to get it. But they have no answers either. All I can say is your not alone. You only grieve as much as you loved! And I know I loved him more then myself. It sounds the same for you. If you get anything out of this rambling its that you will survive. You might not like it but you do it. Im not gona lie. Its hard and a work in progress. Some people recover quicker then others. Dont compare yourself to anyone else. I do sometimes and then remind myself everyone loves differently. Hang in there! I pray for all of us here that did not choose this club we belong to. Hugs Cris

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This is an incredible piece. Says it so well. Thank you for sharing this.

Mary

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Chris,

Congratulations on your first grandchild, please let us know when he/she arrives!

To lose your husband on his birthday...wow, double whammy. You are right, we all grieve differently and can't compare our grief to someone else's. And our loss IS in proportion to our love.

(((hugs)))

Kay

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I finally got time to read the essay on Existential Loneliness by Carter. Scrambling again as I am back on deadline...it rolls around too quickly but I see a light in the tunnel now having made a decision to include selling my publication as a part of leap off the cliff that lies in front of me (figuratively speaking but just as threatening).

I tried to find the original essay by Carter as it says this is from a larger piece. Wrote to the site and hope the moderator can provide a link to it since it is not to be found at the Park Ridge Center or on Google...the former is an apparently out of date link. I did find a ton of great pieces (at philosophicalsociety.com). I really appreciate the Carter essay and would like to read the whole thing. It states (so well-so much better than I am capable of saying) what I was struggling to say yesterday. If I find the original full essay, I will post the link.

Thank you for the post, Marty.

Mary

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Thank you for sharing that, Marty. You always seem to be on top of things as far as what might be of help to us. I didn't relate as much as others might because George's death was sudden, but I can imagine for those who've "gotten the news" (cancer, tumor, etc.) ahead of time and walked through those same steps, it really resonated.

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I battle loneliness at times...I don't hear voices, I don't know if that's what I have to look forward to or what. I do know what she says about it affecting you. I commute alone, work alone for the most part, and am home alone more than anyone should have to be. If not for my dog I really would go nuts, and yet a person really does need interaction with other people. I go to church but I even feel alone there. I know the answer is getting out with others more, but it seems the more you're isolated, the harder it is to break out of it. Tonight I'm going to a Bible Study with other ladies...whether I need it or not.

Good grief kay, I swear I could have signed my name to your post. It applies to me, all of it.

Re the link it seems to me she has more "issues" than simply being alone (arguing with yourself? yikes), frankly. Sad. But she makes some good points about how very very few people truly understand severe, "chronic" loneliness, esp how it can change who you are and all but swallow you up. I have battled this much of my life, long before it hit a new low with the loss of my loved one.

As Kay says, the more isolated you become, the harder it seems to break out of it. But it's not just a matter of forcing yourself to be with other people.

Often you can feel very lonely even together with others - sometimes even more so then. It's the feeling of being sort of...I don't know, like being adrift in a little boat way out in the middle of the ocean. Or walking around with a force field around you - people are there, but you can't feel them or communicate with them properly. As though you don't really exist.

And this post as well. Wow. Thx for letting me know I'm not the only one.
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Yes, I've always liked and needed alone-time, but that was in the context of sharing a busy and meaningful life with someone that I loved deeply.

Now, without him, I find myself in a life with no context even though everything I loved to do, the people I loved to see, the interests I was addicted to, are all still there.

I am busy most days if I wish to be, I laugh with friends, I contribute to the community again and I enjoy some activities.

But I don't have a sense that anything I do now intrinsically MATTERS.

It's not about being alone, it's more about being uncentred, ungrounded, disconnected etc. That's why mixing with people, having hobbies, helping others etc fills in time but doesn't necessarily help with these feelings we are trying to describe.

Will it go away in time? Maybe, but I have my doubts.

I'm starting to accept it as the way of my new world....Susie Q

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I can relate to what each of you write. Yes, I think loneliness is very akin to feeling "disconnected". I feel that a lot. I have a great hobby but do I do it? No, not much or often anymore. I tend to do it more when I'm happy. I wouldn't exactly say I'm unhappy but neither would I describe myself as happy...sometimes I am, but more often it's a short term feeling, not necessarily a state of life. When I was in a relationship with or married to George, I was happy. Very happy. I know they say someone else can't make you happy, it's your own state of mind, but things were good then, life was good, balanced, I didn't feel alone, I had someone to share life with and we connected very well, had great communication, related to each other, enjoyed like activities, etc. Now one day stretches into the next. I hope and pray I don't live to 90 and beyond like my mom, but it's very likely. But then I know I won't be like her so I shouldn't worry about it. It's just, it would be so nice to really feel like I had some purpose in life, yes, like what I did mattered. I know I matter to my dog. Maybe I matter somewhat to my kids and sisters but I'm not part of their everyday life and I know if I died, life would go on for them. Yeah they might miss me from time to time, but they wouldn't cry themselves to sleep every night. The things that I do, how does it matter? I work around the place, but there's no one to share the fruits of my labors with. I have so much inside of me but it seems to matter not.

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Kay, you do have meaning here...you reach out to so many people. You reach out from and with your heart and experience. I do also hope you can find something in your personal life that feels meaningful and which brings you a sense of content and that you can pour your life energy into. I do understand feeling like you are disconnected. I express it by saying I feel like I do not belong anywhere special now as I once did. But I am also hoping I can discover a place of meaning where I am contributing, significant, and content. I will always feel that emptiness of Bill's absence...I miss him so much...part of me went with him and lives on the other side of the veil with him.

Between now and the day I join him there, I must find something here that flows from passion and which helps others in some way...probably using my therapy skills. I wish you satisfaction and meaning soon. I wish I had a magic wand...for both of us.

Peace,

Mary

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