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.
Life is different and the same. We are some of our family but the reality of covid continues to make life lonely. Connecting with friends from home is mostly the same since it was phone conversations. However we did have a few people that we met to eat outside off and on. Our family is one who does dinner (and it is wonderful ) but I miss meeting people for lunch. Even if we go out it is just the two of us. Sometimes it is so hard not to be bored.
I have picked up my knitting and crocheting but since it has been my go to thing since March the joy of it is wearing thin. Like most people I am feeling the long haul to some changes.
Thanksgiving will provide some change as the family will have a meal together but I am discovering getting my husband and the dogs going can be a real journey. We haven’t yet got the dogs acclimated and they howl if we leave them alone which means that we take them with us or one of us has to be here. Oh well, one of life’s little irritations.
I know I’m sounding gloomy and I do feel that way a good bit but “this too shall pass.” After not being in a different town since 1976 this will take some time.
It is nice to be reading all of you again and connecting. Thank you for your responses.
I wish that this quiet time away from the busy world was one that I could enjoy but not to be. My husband is still in care. He’s physically all right but still not mentally well. He is better. It is just so hard not knowing how this will all come out.
I don’t know if I will have the man I knew or someone else. Things will work out but the uncertainty of it all is harrowing. At this point the virus is of less concern to me. During this time not only has the world outside of my own surroundings changed but also inside my circle. Many people are caught in this. I am not the only one struggling. Some have more grievous things to bear.
I seem to do really well for a while and then I falter. I suppose this will continue until there are some answers forthcoming. Waiting has never been my strong suit. I am certainly learning to endure patience.
It will be different for us when we come out of this. I pray there will not be another pandemic coming any time soon and that we can be better prepared. Everyone is blaming everyone else the world over but I remember hearing some words of Pope Francis pointing out that if we all blame someone else them we have to accept that all of us are to blame. There are certainly judgement errors aplenty to share.
We must change. We must understand the nature of the damage we have done to the earth. Soon it will be too late and we must live with the guilt about what we are leaving our great grandchildren. We have to learn to live together over the whole world or there is no hope.
I pray that we can.
Since my husband developed this UTI life has not only been abnormal because of Covid 19 but also because of dealing with someone who can’t think straight. It is better but not totally gone. God bless all those who live with an Alzheimer’s patients. I really don’t know how you do it.
The anxiety has taken its toll on my mental health and my body. IBSD has flared up after being gone for quite a long time. I know that all of this will end but I want to hurry it up. Living as we do we are mostly alone. We have some family here but they are unable to help much. It is not the day to day help I miss but the comfort of hugs and contact with friends. I am a person who knows the comfort of human touch. I count on it. It is what I miss the most. With my husband not well I feel very alone.
This is my time to spend time with God and that has been helping. I also keep in mind my grandmother whose favorite quote was “and this too shall pass.” She had such strength and faith.
There are many who are suffering much more that I and I hope they can find the resources they need, stay well, and survive the physical and financial crisis. There will be many to help in the days to come and it is up to us to do what we can.
Remember my favorite quote:
‘ALL WILL BE WELL, AND ALL MANNER OF THINGS WILL BE WELL’
Julian of Norwich.
One of my favorite writers https://earthwalkingworld.wordpress.com/2019/11/16/let-the-looting-begin/ began his post today talking about the freedom we achieve when we are first able to drive. I would like to talk about the opposite problem
As we grow older our ability to drive can decline. Whether it is due to vision, slowed reaction time or mental losses we may have to stop driving. In many European countries this is not such an issue since public transportation can take someone anywhere. Those who live in city centers can walk many places and if they are able to do that don’t lost that freedom.
For most of us who live in the US driving is our key to mobility and therefore our independence. The hardest thing to convince us as we age is that we can no longer drive. For those who have enough money to Uber everywhere it may not be a problem but the majority can’t do that.
For those who live alone losing the ability to drive can cause isolation which leads to depression and going downhill. I wish there were a simple solution but there really isn’t one. As the age of our population increases the problem will become more acute.
Creating a volunteer group of drivers who would be willing to help people run their errands and be with friends would be a good solution. I wonder if anyone has done this if so I haven’t heard of it. I hope someone does it in the future.
There are some things we can’t fix. I have written about this….I know this and yet I don’t want to accept it. My friend is in an untenable position. It is amazing how events can transpire in such a way that there is no way out.
No matter what we do sometimes life boxes us in and there are no good choices. Only ones that bring pain.
Sometimes I wonder why some people seems to have more sadness and challenge in their lives that others. Is it because they deserve it….no, no, no. Sometimes the worst person has the best come to them and the best person gets the worst. We just want to yell at God and say NOT FAIR. But no one ever promised that things would be fair.
For me it seems at least sudden catastrophes can be gotten through. The long term, every single day, on and on things become an impossible burden. It is amazing to me how there are those who cope each day and go on. Think about the ALS patients (Lou Gehrigs Disease). Day after day…on and on.. each one failing a little more. Those that I have known have been amazing. Keeping faith and a positive perspective through it all. How do they do it?
Life is a precious thing and maybe just waking each morning makes it worthwhile. I can see that but what about the person for whom life has no meaning left, no joy? They may not know that dawn comes each day. How do the families face the next day? How do you manage when each day brings no change but only sameness?
The only thing that I know to do is to be there in those times. There is nothing that can fix it but my presence may give some solace. This is what we must do. See around you the people who are in pain…emotional or physical. Reach out to them. Let them know that someone cares. You don’t have to know what to say. Just presence in enough.
Everyone has pain in life. Some immediate, some long lasting. Don’t forget to be there whether supporting them on Word Press or in person. Be there!
Often we wonder if all the trails and pains of life have any purpose. A number of years ago I wrote this poem expressing that I can see a reason.
The pain of aloneness
Is an instrument
carving out the soul
making a space
to hold and heal
someone else’s pain
©Suzanne Boyd 2018
I worked for a Lutheran church and I now go to an Episcopal church. I love liturgy. It has form and function. In the midst of a chaotic world it continues an age old pattern. That gives me comfort.
We are now in the season of Advent. Advent arrives in the darkest time of the year. Where I live it has been gloomy for the last week. We have had cold and rain. The sky is gray, the trees are gray…it feels as if the world is gray. The weather at this time of the year can be really depressing.
We are at the time of the year when a lot of the world is preparing for the (dare I say) Christmas holidays. Hanakkuh is also being celebrated. Even people who have no religious background or affiliation get into the season. It is hard to resist lights, trees, and presents. The commercial world is pumping out enticing ads and people are binge watching holiday movies. For most people the mood is bright.
However, this can be a difficult time for some. Think about those for whom this time of year is hard. For the homeless it is just cold and miserable. We see them huddled on the streets and in cardboard boxes cringing away from the cold. Those who have lost loved ones during this season struggle with their loss. There are so many memories. People who are without family or friends see the season highlighting their loneliness.
This can be a wonderful time. Anticipation can be joyful. It can also be devastating. Look around you at those who suffer in Advent. What is coming for them can be sad and lonely. Do what you can to help.
One of the most important things to accept and understand is that each of us is loved. I am not talking about the love of another person but the love that surrounds us. For me, there is a love that pervades the universe. We learn to accept that each of us is unique and as such never to be again. Our time on earth is a gift. We have to make choices about how we use that gift. We didn’t seek that gift. It was given freely and without expectation of some sort of return.
If we can accept that we are loved then we have love to give away to others. Not just people but also to the earth that we inhabit. There are times when we don’t feel any love directed toward us. We feel alone, alienated, and abandoned. We must learn to pull away from this idea. Regardless of how unimportant or unnoticed we feel we must accept the fact that we matter.
To me this feeling of being left out, ostracized and without meaning is insidious and can trap us in depression. Sometimes it is hard to believe that love surrounds us. You can see it as God, or whatever form you accept but it is there.
When you are in a bad place and can’t see your way remember the love and know that you can reach out and find a way out of the darkness. There is always a way.