Today, I’m going to talk a bit about loneliness. By definition, loneliness is feeling of sadness because she has no friends or company or it can involve a state of isolation or abandonment. As you can see, there is a subjective aspect to loneliness. It’s not simply that the person has no friends, but it is a feeling of sadness, often because in the moment they think of themselves as having no friends. If you were to try to get factual with them, they could probably name some friends for you. The problem is that they feel friendless. There are times when this is objectively true too, but frequently, it is a feeling rather than a reality.
However, at my age (mid-70’s) the more common situation for about 75% of women our age, is that they are either widowed or divorced and they do live alone. It doesn’t mean they are friendless, but they are alone. On top of that, many who are living with their spouse, have a sick spouse they are caring for. Frequently, loneliness is involved there as well…along with grief.
So lonely comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Over the past five years, I have had some incredibly lonely times despite the fact that I have a local daughter living nearby, quite a few friends at a variety of levels, a great church home, daughters I could call on the phone and a husband I live with, despite the fact he is struggling with complications from strokes and vascular dementia.
What kinds of things have been helpful? Here are a few.
- Knowing that GOD is always with me and I can bring every need to Him– Since Ron’s first stroke five years ago, I have had times of extreme loneliness when I needed help to deal with issues beyond my wisdom. Often, they came to mind late at night when I couldn’t call anyone. I remember the comfort of either being able to write down what they were in a list and being able to commit them to GOD to resolve and guide me through them. Then I was able to get off to sleep and face them in the morning.
- Learning to ask people for help-I haven’t been used to asking for help. Ron and I tended to do what we needed to do and move on. If we couldn’t afford it, we just didn’t do it. This was quite a change. I had to ask a lot of people for help, especially how to learn to do things Ron used to do. I had to figure out who the best person was to ask for help, then call or talk to them in person to gert that help.
- Admitting when I wasn’t catching on to information I was given-That’s when I really felt dumb. It seemed so simple at the time. They would give me the information I needed, but I just wanted getting it! Then I either had to go back to the original person or to another person who seemed to explain it better for me and get more hep.On top of that has been the brain fog that comes with grief and loss. At times, my brain was overwhelmed. I just couldn’t take in more information. It didn’t stick.
- Developing good friendships with women who are in similar circumstances or have been- This has been helpful. COVID 19 has put a kink in that, but having those friendships has helped a lot. These women help a lot. They are kind and tender at times even I don’t realize how much I need it.
- Reminding myself who GOD is…particularly how much He loves me and is present with me in my situation.-Writing for others has helped me a lot. I have to think through tips and Scriptures that are helpful, where GOD promises things in His Word, what He tells us about Himself. Then I have something to hang onto and pass on as well. Not everything about writing is fun, but overall, it is helpful to do the things I do for others and in the end, I help myself.
What other suggestions do you have?
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,
Isaiah 43:1b-3a, 4a ESV