One of my favorite blogs is Time Goes By, written by a woman who shares a lifetime span with me. She pens about the challenges and issues that are important to those of us who have passed the 50, 60, 70 or 80 hallmarks of time.
In a recent post she addressed the loss of loved ones, grieving, being alone and being lonely, then asked at the end about our thoughts on the subjects. (Visit her blog here: http://www.timegoesby.net/weblog/2017/03/when-your-whole-world-feels-empty-.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TimeGoesBy+%28TIME+GOES+BY%29 )
And since she asked, I decided to share my experiences on the topic.
My mother died in the spring of 2003, and her death was an unexpected blow. Of course I wasn’t surprised: she was 83 and had been in questionable health for some time. But I didn’t anticipate the sense of emptiness I felt.
In late February of the following year my husband died, and my dad died suddenly about 36 hours later.
I felt my support system had been ripped from beneath me, and painfully acknowledged that my life had changed overnight. Thankfully, grief numbed me for several days as I navigated on auto pilot through 2 funerals in a 4 day span. I was surrounded with other family members and lots of friends, so on one level I didn’t feel neglected or alone. But deep down, I felt abandoned and lonely. I was devastated, and couldn’t verbalize or understand the emotions that seemed to paralyze me.
Standing on my front porch, watching cars whiz by and people living their lives in a normal way, I thought, “How can you go about your daily routine when my life has been shattered?”
The earth had shifted and cracked under my feet, causing me to stumble, fall, and barely cling to the sides of the cavern I had fallen into, while everyone else walked and ran along a well-worn path seemingly clear of gaps and debris.
The process of grieving had begun, the pain continued, and the ending was not in sight. I came to understand why in earlier times and in different cultures people went into mourning for at least a year. Society designated time for grieving to take place. It allowed the living a period of incubation for a new life reality to form. The loss of a loved one means life changes for those of us left behind. We must shift into another gear, climb a different mountain, ford an unknown river, and cross a deserted landscape before knowing where to head and how to get there.
We need time and we require space to adjust. Who knows how long it takes for grief to subside enough to begin seeing the sun shine once more: a month, 6 months, a year or 2, if ever?
And the same can be said about the amount of space required for grieving. People generously offered me companionship, But I sought aloneness in order to process my feelings.
As a result of that self-imposed isolation, I became comfortable with myself. I found that I can be alone without being lonely. There are times when I feel ‘down’ even when I’m in the middle of a crowd. But living by myself doesn’t cause my loneliness. In fact, I would guess we all feel lonely at times while sitting next to someone we love watching a favorite movie.
The cure for loneliness differs for each of us. Maybe its walking my doglets . Perhaps it volunteering. It could be talking with someone who is smarter than I am…like my neighbor’s 6-year-old granddaughter.
And when all else fails, take the old advice of doctors: ‘Take 2 aspirin and call me in the morning’.
By Jove, it still works. Well, those antidepressants also help!