Loneliness is a feeling of not belonging, no involvement with a community (family, friends, a town or job), and there is no sense of wanting to or even thinking about contributing to a community. Some of us socialize via the Internet on Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social media sites. We feel somehow safer communicating with others when we do not have to face people directly. This is can only increase our loneliness in that we do not experience any physical contact or commitment.
Sometimes we experience loneliness for short periods of time, an hour, or a day. Many of us then turn to meditation, shopping, or lunch with friends to get us out of our slump. It is important to share with someone you trust about your feelings at the time.
Other times it might be a daily event from which we are not able to rise above.
With such feelings of isolation we often develop depression, illnesses, drug or alcohol addiction. According to some studies it can raise our blood pressure, increase pain and fatigue, and poor eating habits resulting in too much weight gain or loss. Depression is often defined as anger turned inward and can make us feel like we are traveling in a universe separate from anyone else. Any type of illness can develop due to loneliness because our immune systems are depressed, we do not eat nutritiously, nor exercise on a regular basis.
Loneliness often occurs after a major change in the person's family due to death, divorce, illness, abandonment, or an empty nest. In each of these situations an individual needs support, attention (good listening), and sometimes professional counseling during their process of grieving. When we grieve we through various stages as outlined by Elisabeth Kugler-Ross. They are denial or shock, bargaining, anger, depression, and acceptance. We each move in and out of these stages at our own pace and time frame. When we reach acceptance then we are now able to live with the tragic or sad events that we have had to experience.
We all have felt lonely and abandoned at various times of our lives. I believe even Jesus felt lonely in the Garden of Gethsemane. When I entered college as a freshman 1500 miles away from home, for the first day or so I was lonely, but I soon made friends, got familiar with the campus, and quickly saw my new life as an exciting challenge.
My sense of aloneness from my ovarian cancer diagnosis disappeared once I got involved in a support group, communicated on the Internet with various individuals and organizations who were somehow involved with this disease. The more I read and learned about ovarian cancer, had doctors I highly respected and trusted, and opened my life of cancer to others, loneliness never reappeared.
There are many organizations and groups out in society to help anyone through a difficult time. Contact such places as The American Psychological Society, local churches, The Loneliness Support Group, Campaign to End Loneliness, to name a few.
We as members of society have a responsibility to be aware of the symptoms of loneliness and be there to help people in our families or neighborhood or among our friends to be there for them. Let them know they are loved and appreciated.
My thanks to Mark's Daily Apple for input into this blog.