This past weekend here in Atlanta, GA the most significant American sports event of the year was hosted less than a mile away from my home. Hundreds of thousands of people from around the country and the world were literally in my back yard. More people were in this city this past weekend than there have ever been in the 15 years that I have lived here yet, somehow I felt more alone this past weekend than I ever have. I am still uncertain as to why this is but as usual during my time of reflection my heart and mind connected spiritually with those who are grieving.
As I watched all of the tailgate and game-goers collectively celebrating, I was reminded of those who are buried in throws of grief, isolation and fear that their current emotional state will never change. As excitement and frenzy buzzed around me, and I felt the stillness and quiet within I felt the loneliness of those who are merely going through the motions day by day as the world and time seen to pass them by. Alone, afraid and in anguish, as everyone else simply carries on.
Loneliness is a very intense and real emotion. Many of us have experienced loneliness at one point or another in our lives. Perhaps after moving out of our parents' homes to experience life on our own, or maybe after a break-up. Somehow we made it through those experiences and in most cases were able to overcome the loneliness experience by doing something that picked us up emotionally, surrounding ourselves with friends and family or looking forward to brighter days ahead. However, when someone passes away there is a level of loneliness created in our hearts and minds that is not so easily healed or managed.
Though I am not currently grieving the loss of a loved one, I have been there. I know the pain far too well. I know the hopelessness, the despair, the desire to be left alone while intensely craving for someone to be able to touch and offer comfort to an ache that is far too deep and dark for words to explain or emotions to express. I understand what it is like to question whether no longer being is better than feeling loss and constant turmoil.
I also know that things change and day by day, month by month, year by year and our hearts will heal and that our minds will somehow make peace with an absence that initially is unbearable. My experiences with grief and loss (of all kinds) have taught me so much. The truth is that there are not many ways the loneliness experienced due to someone passing away can be soothed, healed or worked through. Other than prayer, time, and the grace of God there just is not much more that one can do other than go through the process of grief. Nonetheless, there are three things that may provide solace and relief through the journey:
1. Reaching Out to Those You Trust
We all handle and experience grief so differently. Being vulnerable with others during an already deeply emotional and painful experience is not easy. Finding the words to articulate emotions that are new, complicated and unclear makes becoming isolated that much easier. Though spending time alone with your thoughts and feelings is not a bad thing, becoming too isolated can become unhealthy and dangerous. It is vital that you keep healthy connections with those who you know have your best interest at heart. Just sending a text message to let those you trust know that you are having a hard day or not feeling quite yourself could help tremendously and allow for others to offer their support and help you not feel so alone.
2. Appreciating the Uniqueness of Your Loss
Many times when we are grieving we feel as if no one will ever understand our loss. Though we all have and will experience loss at some point in our lives this is very true because each loss is unique. The connection that you have with your loved one is yours and yours alone. You are going to miss things that may or may not be understood and appreciated by others grieving the same person. That is okay. Allow yourself to appreciate what and who have lost.
3. Creatively Express Your Loss
Have you ever noticed that the best songs, movies, pieces of art and just about every other form of creative expression have one thing in common? Many if not most of them were made by those who are experiencing some sort of loss and represent what that loss means/meant to its creator. This is why we are so moved by them. Finding your own way to express your loss creatively can be a fantastic outlet. Draw, sing, paint, play an instrument, dance, scream, break things, plan a trip in your loved ones honor do something that creatively represents your emotions in their raw form. You may be surprised by the beauty or beautiful experiences come from your expression of loss brokenness.
What has helped you in dealing with loneliness after loosing someone you love?
Joél Simone Anthony, also known as ‘The Grave Woman,’ is a licensed funeral director and embalmer. She is dedicated to eliminating misconceptions about post-life preparation while stimulating an open, honest and straight forward discussion about death. You can submit your comments, questions and requests to firstname.lastname@example.org or by using our contact page.