Alone But Not Lonely

Jul 24, 2020

It’s a shocking truth: widowed people navigate the most difficult moments completely alone.

It isn’t because people don’t care. Often there are people who would drop anything for us.

It isn’t because people don’t try to help. The luckier among us have well-intended people at our beck and call.

It isn’t because we don’t have people we could call at 2 a.m. when the going gets tough. Many widowed people do.

Even in the best of circumstances – when we have people who care, who try to help and who would answer the phone at all hours of the night – we feel alone. In less fortunate circumstances, it’s worse. And next-level worse is experiencing profound loss during a pandemic.

Those who love us desperately want us to be “better.” To “move on.” To get back to our “old selves.” But the truth is that our old selves only inhabit our past lives. To many of us, “moving on” suggests leaving our loved ones forgotten in the past, and there simply is no such thing as “better,” at least not on societal timelines.

Those who love us the most often don’t understand that what they want for us simply can’t be. They don’t get it and we wouldn’t wish it to be any different. The only way to truly understand is to walk in our shoes. So if you don’t get it, good for you.

Every time someone asks, “how are you?” we lie, and with every lie, we feel more alone. We are best actresses in a dramatic series. We don’t “fake it until we make it.” No, we show up and fake it and then go home and fall apart. Our need to be “okay” in order to make others comfortable is more evidence of our aloneness.

It’s like having broken ribs: you look fine on the outside but ache with every breath.

Yet no matter your circumstances, you are not condemned to a life sentence of loneliness. The feeling of loneliness, like any feeling, comes from our thoughts.

 Might you be willing to believe that you don’t have to feel lonely?

At this moment, there are many thousands of other widowed people seeking connection and understanding. If you’re reading this blog, you are online, and so is your widowed tribe. They are people who have their own version of the pain, people who unfortunately know the secret handshake, people who won’t judge.

They are many dozens of Facebook groups for widowed people. It’s likely that at least one would be a fit for you. Most are private, so only fellow members can read what others post, and each person must prove that they are widowed in order to be added to the group. Group administrators work tirelessly to ensure that the group is a safe, welcoming and supportive place.

While in person interaction with people who understand the journey is ideal, these groups are not limited to geography. They bring a sense of global community – hundreds of thousands of people who speak the language of loss. They inspire friendships and sometimes relationships and new chapters of life.

If Facebook groups aren’t your thing, search MeetUp.com for groups that may be meeting virtually. Grief Share groups have largely gone online, which creates an opportunity to form new connections regardless of geography.

Don’t let your brain tell you that the pandemic means that you must be lonely. It’s easier than ever to make new connections online. Now is a perfect time to find your tribe, feel understood, offer support and know that although you may be alone, you don’t have to be lonely.  

 

Teresa Amaral Beshwate, MPH, The Sudden Widow Coach, helps widows who have experienced the sudden loss of their spouse or significant other learn to live and love their life again. Her coaching program is exclusively for widowed people and offers the perfect mix of private and group coaching along with the most life changing tools for the uniquely challenging widowed journey. 

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