Monday, March 1, 2010

Only The Lonely

Good Monday Mourning!

Loneliness is a strange sort of critter. Not easily described or explained but like one of our supreme court justices once said (referring to porn) "You know it when you see it". I think we have all known times of loneliness in our lives. We are not invited to the PJ party in 4Th grade; our best friend moves away; our kids leave the "nest". These events and many others can bring that vague, unsettling feeling we call "loneliness". Usually it is temporary and given a little time and the natural changes of life we adjust and find new interests to fill the void.

Not so with grief. The loneliness experienced at the death of a loved one is a whole new "animal". I wouldn't believe it to be true if I wasn't smack-dab in the middle of it. It is ... strange.

For instance - just this week I heard myself saying to someone who asked me how I was doing with this "widow thing", "I really hate living alone". Now that's just... strange! Strange because that response is not grounded in reality and as soon as I said it I realized how off base the statement was. The reality is I have never lived alone. Not a single day of my entire life! I went from living at home with my parent to marriage and then after 27 years my husband died. I had 2 children living with me at the time and one of them still lives with me three years later. Add to the mix the reality that my sister moved in with me along with her little dog, Mickey and you see how ridiculous that statement was. I'm not only NOT living alone - I'm surrounded by people and dogs and cats pretty much 24/7. I am not living alone. And yet... it sure feels like it. And there in lies the rub - the strangeness of this thing we call "loneliness". It defies explanation. We've probably all experienced that feeling of being alone in a crowded room. Apparently loneliness has more to do with relationships than it does the number of people in the room.

Grief often brings with it such strong emotions that in their sheer strength can overwhelm our senses and alter our perceptions of truth and reality. The truth is I have never known a single day of aloneness. Grief tells me I am alone and will always be alone and that this loneliness will never, ever go away. Grief lies. My relationship with David has changed forever and that has left me feeling alone and lonely even though I am not alone. I just miss David which is a reasonable reaction but I need to remind myself in the midst of my loneliness that I am not alone. Surrounded by friends and family, carried by God, I am never alone.

Just knowing that grief is prone to emotionally-based feelings not grounded in truth can help us handle the feelings. I corrected myself almost immediately after saying, "I hate living alone". I added, "well, actually, I don't live alone at all. God has surrounded me with family that live with me and care for me every day. I just miss David." Focusing on what we have instead of what we've lost is always a good exercise producing a sense of gratitude and security. It doesn't change the fact that I am lonely and miss my husband. It does keep loneliness from controlling my life. I blame it on the grief. Actually, I blame a lot of things on the grief. I figure I ought to be able to get something beneficial out of this mess.

Next week I'll tell how I've learned to make grief "useful". If you're going to have it hanging around the house you might as well learn how to use it. That's my motto.

See you next week and... don't let the loneliness lie to you.


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