I read several other widow’s blogs, and one of the main themes I see is Loneliness. It’s not just something widows or widowers battle. But I do think it’s especially challenging for someone who has lost their life partner to grow accustomed to being alone again. Loneliness is one of the most painful aspects of being a widow.
One widow recently wrote: “I don’t know what to do when it’s just me.” Then she listed all the things people usually suggest, and why they don’t work for her, like watching TV, crafting, coffee with friends, working out, cleaning. I suggested reading a good book, but she’s finding it difficult to find a genre that transports her, which I understand.
Her post made me think of how I’ve dealt with my loneliness over the past few years. I’ve experienced many days of sleeping or watching TV all day, and many more nights of crying myself to sleep, due to loneliness and missing Kaz. There is no substitute for his presence.
I can’t decide if I feel less lonely now, or if I’ve grown so used to being alone that it’s become normal (and therefore less painful). It’s not that I don’t remember what it feels like to live with Kaz on a daily basis, but I do feel a growing distance from that reality. Part of that is time. Also, I no longer live in the same apartment, city, state, coast as we did.
Of course, we all know that you can’t run from grief — the loneliness comes with you wherever you go. When I did the road trip, the loneliness hit me really hard because I was witnessing incredible beauty and had no one to share it with. Now that I live in a rural area, life is even more solitary than it was in Los Angeles.
But so far, I’m maintaining. I recently listed ten ways to maintain as a writer, but some of these apply to battling loneliness as well.
Here are a few more…
Keep communicating with your loved one.
One of the things that helped me the most after Kaz died was writing him letters, and talking to him out loud. It made me feel his presence even though he wasn’t physically there. I don’t write to him as often, but I do talk to him. And it still helps.
Meet new people.
I’m not talking about dating, but meeting new people with common interests in a non-pressured environment. Meetup.com is one way to meet people in your area who share similar interests. There is a group for everything under the sun. Or you can start a new group and see who joins up. There are Facebook groups for just about everything too. When I adopted Ruby, I joined a Meetup group for people who like to hike with their dogs off-leash. I’m still friends with a couple I met from the first hike.
Take a class, or learn a new hobby.
I took a weekly Caribbean dance class ($15/class) in the first year after Kaz died. It was one of the most difficult but rewarding experiences of my life. Eventually, I’d like to take a photography class, along with a cooking class, and, believe it or not, a gun shooting class. The good thing about classes is that there’s usually at least one other person who feels just as nervous as you do. I also started taking photos and joined Instagram to share them. At first, I only posted photographs of Ruby, but now I post photos of life in general. I like taking photos because it’s another way to express myself other than filmmaking and writing.
Other ideas that are free or cheap…
Visit friends and/or family. If you can’t afford to travel, set up a Skype appointment.
Volunteer to help others in need. If you don’t want to deal with people, you could volunteer with animals.
Go to a concert. Check the local paper for listings. There’s music in every area, often free.
Go to a museum. Many museums have a free or discounted day/night.
Join a local choir or singing group.
Join (or start) a book club.
Join a grief support group.
Travel somewhere you’ve never been before.
Ask others to visit you, and show them around your area.
Even if you do only one of these activities, once a week or once a month, it might help. It will definitely get you out of the house and meeting new people.
If you don’t want to meet new people yet, you can do things at home like listen to Saturday matinée opera broadcasts Live From the Met, or (if you don’t like opera) listen to a podcast. Podcasts are like television shows for the radio, and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of them out there. Serial is an excellent, true murder-mystery story, and it’s FREE. All you need is a phone or computer with internet connection.
I have also recently become obsessed with the Turner Classic Movie channel, which only plays classic movies. If you’re going to stay at home and watch TV, I highly recommend TCM.
You can also do yoga at home. There’s no shortage of free YouTube videos to guide you.
If you want to try meditation, you can check out the meditation app HeadSpace, which is free for beginners.
I’m not suggesting that any of these activities will take your or my loneliness away completely. They won’t. But they might ease it for a bit. Or lead to a few minutes/hours that you might enjoy. Or to meeting new people, maybe even making new friends. You never know.
If you have any other suggestions for dealing with loneliness, please share them below.
Wishing you peace and light, always.