Today I am having thoughts about loneliness. We are creatures who need each other. We are hard wired to be in community. We need belonging. The emotional toll of being shut off from others is being felt, not only where we are, but in the world at large.
Finding myself in an Independent Retirement Community during covid has brought on questions that I didn’t expect.
Even though we have all (almost) been completely vaccinated we are still alone much of the time. Our need for companionship, which is one of the reasons to be here, has been intensified. We must all wear masks which limits our ability to see facial expressions. Encouraged to seek physical distance we cannot gather to be with others. This is no fault of where we are but since we are elderly our safety is primary.
Of course this hits harder on those who are truly alone and do not have a spouse or companion with them. We have to find a new way of belonging. Electronic connection doesn’t satisfy the need. We need physical presence. It is imperative that new ideas for belonging are tried and used with safety in mind.
Some of that is already happening by default. People are meeting with others who they feel take safety seriously . Small groups meeting can bring the closeness we need to alleviate the physical and emotional pain (and yes it is actual pain) brought on by our need to experience belonging.
We are suffering. All of us. The innate need to experience personal physical links with others is critical. Without it the increase of depression, loneliness and suffering will increase enormously.
Our love of life, desire to live fully and happily are threatened. We must find new ways to experience belonging or many of us will die lonely and sad.