Chapter 5: Coping with your loneliness

Stories about coping with loneliness

Here are 3 stories about grieving people facing their loneliness. As you read them, consider if you can use any of their coping methods.

My brother and I lived together when we moved to this city. Very unexpectedly he was diagnosed with a very advanced cancer and died in a few short months. We were always very close. His friends were my friends and we usually planned our weekend and holidays together. His death hit me very hard.

I have never lived alone before. There has always been someone in the house with me. It seemed so empty. The silence was deafening. No one to share the funny story about what happened on the subway.

Tom isn't there to help me work through issues with our family as he always has been in the past. Facing loneliness has been by far the hardest part. Now I leave the radio on during the day. It makes me feel better with the noise in the background.

I have also had to learn to reach out to people, inviting a friend over to share a meal. It is a big effort and while it sometimes leaves me exhausted, I see it as worth the effort. I need people in my life and only I can make that happen.

In the past I was always the first one at a party and the last to leave. For the first time in my life, I find myself refusing social invitations. I find myself making decisions to stay at home and avoid my friends and family. It just feels too much. I know that I can’t do this forever because I feel more and more lonesome.

I am trying to find other options, like going to a few outings instead of all of them, or leaving early when I start to feel overwhelmed.

Mark, who was a casual acquaintance, has become a closer friend. His partner died a few years ago. He knows what it's like and he "has my back." I can count on him to support me and help me do what I need to do.

My couple became a single when my husband died. I wasn’t prepared to feel like a fifth wheel with our couple friends. Then I noticed the invitations stopped coming. Our friends seem very nervous talking about Derek's death and I feel them distancing themselves from me. It really adds to my loneliness as these relationships change.

I know that they are not trying to be mean, that they are really unsure about what to say and do. I have found that I need to take charge here, sometimes even leading the conversation about how things have changed. It feels strangely empowering to take charge here and my couple friends seem to appreciate me setting the agenda.