Everyone gets lonely. There are those moments when you feel quite simply that you are on your own and you do not feel supported.
When we think of loneliness, especially at this time of the year, we think of people who live alone. Old people, single people and those that have reduced mobility to get around.
As I type this I realise that I could fall into those categories, but truthfully I am thankful that I don’t feel lonely very often. I enjoy my own company, and I am blessed with many friends, both online and offline that make me feel cherished and loved. I do however lives many miles from my birthplace and must admit that sometimes this isn’t easy.
So how do you recognise loneliness?
I think the answer is that you don’t, for the most part. If I think of the many people in my life, I know that many are lonely and have lonely moments, and they are not always the ones you would expect.
My own lonely moments have made me very conscious of others, and what they might be going through. I have created myself a pair of imaginary loneliness glasses and am trying to always be aware of the less obviously lonely.
One of the biggest upsides of wearing these specs is that you will bring so much joy into your own life, just by being in someone elses.
Here are just a few thoughts of where you might look to deliver your own antidote to loneliness
- Self employed people (they spend hours alone and probably miss having colleagues. I blogged about social isolation before and it all still remains true.
- People living away from home (either expats, or immigrants). Being separated from your children, your parents and your childhood friends is simply hard.
- Single people of all shapes and sizes – divorce has left many people alone and lonely, but they are not the only ones. All the media buzz shows Christmas as a time for holding hands, and family moments under the tree. This is not true for everyone.
- Older people – especially living alone, or in retirement homes. Memories are special but they can also make you feel melancholy
- Those living with a chronic illness. Being limited in what you can do physically means that you often spend many hours alone. And these people also struggle to find people to understand what they are going through. These people might be lonely, but I am betting they could do with a little help as well as company. I had a group of friends come round to help me decorate my house this year. Imagine my surprise when they left and I went to light a fire to find that the fire-place perfect. I was very grateful
The truth however is that loneliness has no face, it has no colour and no archetypical image. It is up to us to be open, to listen and to hear.
I am always reminded that you can be lonely in a room full of people.
Do lonely people know they are lonely?
I suspect in many cases that lonely people don’t realise that they are lonely. They know that they are not happy. They know that it feels like there is something missing in their lives but they don’t necessarily identify that this feeling is loneliness.
What if we simply go about our lives with an open heart, offering friendship and noticing the world around us? We will realise when the time is right to offer a cup of coffee or simply make a call.
Let your Christmas present this year be to take some loneliness away from someone. Either someone you know is lonely – a neighbour, friend or acquaintance that lives alone, or someone who may not realise that they are lonely but whose face lights up at the thought of a hot chocolate and shared conversation.
I wish you a joyful festive season filled with love and laughter.
Thank you for reading