Coping with Loneliness after Loss
Perhaps you’ve read about the stages of grief that follow the loss of a loved one. But what may not be discussed as often is the lingering impact of loneliness. As your grief evolves and diminishes over time, how can you create a new sense of connection and belonging?
It’s said that time heals all wounds, and perhaps there are no shortcuts when it comes to grief and loss. However, we believe being intentional about your thoughts and actions can help you remain on a path to healing and happiness rather than falling into a rut of isolation and loneliness.
Here are some ideas that you might find useful:
Take your time
When life changes so dramatically, there might be a desire to simply put things back the way they used to be. You may wish to deny what has happened and try to soldier on as if nothing has changed. This may be a self-protection mechanism, but it might not be realistic or sustainable.
In our view, a healthier path is to allow yourself the time to process events. Talk with friends and family members about who your partner was and what they meant to you. Remember them and honor them, even if that means telling the same stories more than once, picking up the phone at odd hours or needing a shoulder to cry on sometimes.
It’s healthy, natural and healing for humans to share our grief and our memories. And when we do, we often find ourselves laughing through our tears.
However, we suggest trying to avoid making major decisions during this time. When you have an extraordinary weight on your shoulders, it may be easier to make impulsive or irrational decisions. This probably isn’t the time to change jobs, move house or make big financial commitments.
Go out into the world
Engaging with other people is often the best way to raise your spirits—especially when you’re feeling low and just want to stay at home. One way to push yourself to get out there more is to create some purpose and structure around your activities, such as:
- Join a support group. This is a wonderful way to meet people who know what you’re going through and give you the opportunity to talk about it.
- Become a volunteer. By directing your energy toward the needs of others, you can take the focus off your worries, lift your mood and make meaningful connections.
- Take a class. When you are doing something you enjoy and have accountability to a class schedule, it can motivate you to get moving.
Maintain your balance
Grief can ebb and flow. As much as it helps to share memories with friends and family and engage with the outside world, you may also need more time than normal to recharge. Some days may be more difficult than others. It’s OK if you need to decline an invitation or skip a class. Be kind to yourself.
It can be a good mental exercise to simply remind yourself that you are not alone. The loss of someone close is one of the worst things we can imagine, yet many of us are placed in this position at some time or another. It’s a difficult yet universal part of the human experience. The good news is that we are resilient creatures who find ways to get through it—and you will too.
Move to the next phase
Over time, you will accumulate positive new memories. You may find yourself daydreaming about the future again. And at the same time, you may feel a pang of guilt—aren’t you supposed to be grieving? But in our view, it is essential to let yourself move forward.
Maybe it’s time to start a new project. Perhaps you should book a vacation. It may even be time to think about dating. When you sense these possibilities, there’s no reason to hold back. Give yourself permission to live to the fullest.
Losing a loved one is a fact of life, yet nothing can truly prepare us for it. It’s important to be present in the current reality, yet patient and hopeful. Engage with others who can help you grieve, heal and gain perspective. And never forget that the future is still a very good place with lots to look forward to.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kim enjoys educating clients on comprehensive financial planning and strategies so they can live their full life. She is able to get a deep understanding of what is important to a client and address their concerns with care and compassion. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she earned a bachelor's degree in Personal Finance. She is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER professional.
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