When you experience the loss of a loved one, there is an alone time that is different.
The house is quieter. Just knowing that your loved one was there, even if in another room, was reassuring. It helped to define you and to let you feel that you were not alone. Loneliness is often called the “greatest penalty of widowhood.”* It’s the loneliness of fitting in… or not fitting in. Who am I now?
A comment often heard in spousal loss groups is, “Even if I have friends over, I know they will leave soon and I will be alone again.”
The anticipation of being alone sometimes causes grievers to be reluctant to being with others, perhaps to avoid the leaving.
Sometimes you may be in a crowded room and a wave of feelings of aloneness will come over you.
Acknowledge that feeling. Say to yourself: “There’s that wave again”… and I’m okay.
Any kind of acknowledgement, to let yourself know you are okay in the newness of the aloneness will help calm the wave of anxiety. Fighting feelings makes them bigger and causes frustration.
Just the idea that it’s okay to be okay is new. Have patience with yourself and your feelings.
Acknowledging what you are feeling is a well-deserved gift that you give to yourself.
In grief groups, you learn about your vulnerability and fragility in the world. You also discover your courage and find that you’re not alone in that room.
It takes a great deal of courage to be vulnerable when the waves of emotions come.
How you interpret your feelings and deal with them is entirely a choice. Being alone is a state of being; loneliness is a state of mind.
You are on the road of healing and a “New Normal” of converting loneliness to aloneness, and when you are ready… allow yourself to be you in a way that you hadn’t thought of before.
Be creative and innovative and above all, remember self-care during the waves.
Each of our relationships has a trajectory that death doesn’t destroy. We see its arc in the inner changes we undergo when we remember deceased loved ones, and even in outward changes as we continue to mold our lives in response to theirs. — Patricia Campbell Carlson
* Carol Kodish-Butt, R.S.W. (2009, 2013) “Walking with Grief”
Photo: “Waves in pacifica 1” by Brocken Inaglory