How long is Lonely?

How long does one feel lonely? I joined this site shortly after my husband died 10 months ago after 59 years of marriage. I have, since then, read numerous threads on all aspects of grief, joining in conversations myself, experiencing support and comfort from other contributors, and hopefully giving the same, yet, this morning (regrettably in the early hours), I find myself still feeling the acute loss of my wonderful husband. Frequently, I weep at the mere thought of him. At times, over the months, I have felt I am coping reasonably well with my grief, having joined a number of groups including the U3A, of which organisation both my husband and I were members for some years before he became ill, and I became his Carer. I’ve also joined an exercise group, Mothers Union and other Church activities, all of which I enjoy while I am taking part and meeting people, yet I can get upset when I return home becoming overwhelmed with the feeling of loneliness and missing my husband. I have a son, daughter, and 5 young adult grandsons, for whom I am grateful, and in their eyes, I expect they believe I am ‘coping’. I know my husband thought of me as being well able to cope with life’s troubles and strifes, but I realise this was because he was by my side. I understsnd, of course, that in the loss of one’s loved one, one cannot expect to be able to carry on as if nothing has happened, and sometimes that very thought is a comfort. However, like many others on this site, we become weary of the thought of life ahead without our life long partner. I my husband and I were very fortunate in that we met when we were young, and were able to have such a long married life together, and I do feel so much for younger people who sadly experience bereavement of their loved one earlier in life than me. I just wonder how long my feeling of loneliness will continue? I know that some people would say that I have a ‘new life’ now! I’m doing my best to feel joyful in my 'new life’s, but do not find it easy. Do others feel the same?
Sorry, I’m not sounding too positive at present, perhaps it is still early days, but I had just read through some of the threads on this understanding site, and felt the need to write. We are all in a similar state, and can write here as we would not feel able to elsewhere. Very best wishes to all. Deidre.

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Dear Deidre,

It is 142 days - that’s not quite five months - since my wonderful wife of 51+ years died, so I am clearly not the best placed person to attempt to answer your question.
With that caveat in mind, I’ll say that I expect the loneliness of loss to last until I die.
The regular forum poster, Sheila, aka “Lonely,” frequently told us that she was nearly five years bereaved, yet still suffering awful loneliness, as her user name would suggest. About ten days ago she seemed to have a Damascene conversion and announced that she was going to live for the day and adopt a new attitude. Since then her daily posts have all but disappeared. I hope that she may be tempted to reappear and help you with your question, because I cannot think of one better to address it for you.
I am so sorry for the sense of loneliness you feel. One small solace that I have is this; that I would not wish for Eileen to be going through what I am going through. One of us was always destined to bear this awful burden, and I will do that for her with as much stoicism as I can muster.

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As loneliness is something that we feel then I just assume I will feel lonely for the rest of my life, as it’s highly likely that I will spend most of it alone. There may be times when I don’t think about it, presumably when I’m in the company of others or when I’m absorbed doing something on my own.
I presume there are degrees of loneliness and that it would be felt most acutely when I have been on my own for a relatively long period of time and I become introspective.
Like most families, my family and my wife’s family comprised many people who were on their own, some for many years, and most of them were women. I don’t remember talking to any of them about loneliness.
It seems inevitable that this week I will feel more lonely and more sad as I have a quiet week with little written on my calendar. It seems likely that as I age and my health deteriorates that it will just inevitably become a bigger part of my life. My mother sold her house and moved to a block of apartments in the town centre just to avoid such a fate and I am seriously considering taking a similar initiative.

It’s only been 8 months since I lost my partner will i feel less lonely in time I don’t know. I’m only 50 and if I am lucky to live another 30 years it’s horrible to think about feeling like this until I go. I as say to people nobody can replace my partner . I just feel empty sometimes .

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I agree with everything said here.I remember a post by ameliesgran,where she said loneliness or incompleteness? I think i will feel lonely until i go,but i know i will always now feel incomplete until i go.
I’m 56 now and don’t like to dwell on the years ahead,i stay in each day.I can handle that.I can take what comes a little easier that way.And i am trying to let life happen,iv’e given up all control,whatever will be will be.Out of my hands!xx

Dear Aries

So sorry that you feel empty, which is natural after losing your partner. I’m not sure if I will be of help, but will try. I feel that whatever age you lose a loved one, your true soul mate, emptiness will follow, at times mixed with the very real happy memories of your partner, and the desire for more of the same. It is hard to take that our loved life with our partner will not continue. I am older than you and have seen friends over the years lose their partners at a similar age to you. Some remarried or made a new relationship, others remained single. As you are still only middle-aged, life will unfold for you, as indeed it does for all of us, and I hope you do find fulfilment in the days ahead. My thoughts are with you. Deidre

Thank you for your kind words x
Christine x

Dear Edwin, Thank you for your understanding and thoughtful comments. Your thoughts were a help to me. You made me realise I am not the only one feeling lonely. I meet some friends who, when I mention my husband’s name in conversation, say nothing to extend the thread and change the topic of conversation! Maybe they are afraid I will become upset, or purely they are at a loss as to how to reply. In the latter case, I leave matters as they are, in case they become upset! Like you, I know I would not want my lovely husband to go through this. As you indicate, one of us has to. Thanks again for your wise words. Diedre

Dear Yorkshire Lad, Many thanks for your reply and thoughtful comments. As you say, ‘loneliness’ is a feeling, as other feelings, joy, anger, happiness, and the rest. Looking round the lounge in my home where I’m writing this, I have the happier feeling of pleasure and contentment because this is the room in which my beloved husband and I spent many happy hours. In fact, I sometimes doze in my favourite chair, and when waking, for a brief moment, feel that he is sitting beside me in his chair, until I realise he is not here after all. I gain pleasure from the room because we chose the decorations and furnishings together, and certainly at present I don’t want to change them. I note you say your Mother sold her house and moved to an apartment to avoid feeling lonely. I have indeed had similar thoughts, but then I realise I would not have the familiar comfort of my present home, nor my friendly, but not intrusive, neighbours. A big decision. Whichever way you decide, I hope you find the right solution for your future life. I must stop writing or I will miss the event in my diary for today - communal meeting in a town community centre, where we, small group of retirees, will be discussing a book or poem. Nice to see people. Thank you, again, for your kind understanding words. Deidre

How strange that I didn’t read your reply until a few minutes ago as I had just got back from a meeting of the Crime Readers book club. It’s a U3A club and I quite look forward to it. I think many of the other members have been going for years and they could hold their own on Mastermind.
As usual it was very interesting and I will continue to think about it long into the evening. The meeting is held in a room at a local hostelry.

Like Sheila, I have been keeping a lower profile of late (although I read everyone’s posts regularly) because it is sometimes difficult to be both truthful and positive at the same time!! I never want to add to anyone else’s struggle and although it is often comforting to realise that one’s feelings are shared by others it is also very important to remember that each of us is unique so the way grief unfolds is different for each of us…age, financial circumstances, location, accessibility of services etc all affect the choices we can make.
Barry died 137 weeks ago…I have got “better” at living without him - if that is measured in tears - but nothing will ever make my life as it was and, like Robina, I have learned to just use each day as best I can and not think about what might lie ahead…little things that I would previously have taken for granted have now assumed greater significance and bring a smile and a moment’s joy. I live in a rural area and seldom go out into the wider world but I am beginning to be at peace with my existence…I am blessed to still have five of our six dogs to care for and my adult children ring when they remember! I have started a Gratitude Journal and find it a good way of realising that I am still blessed in many more ways than one might expect;
Life is sometimes lonely…but it is a gift and tomorrow was never promised to any of us! We have all been blessed with the love we shared with the one(s) we have lost and this love will sustain us if we just trust that each of us will get “better” at breathing through the days… in our own way and at our own pace.
Take care everyone…Spring will soon be here and will remind us that we are but part of a cycle which goes on forever; x

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Thank you ‘Amelie’sgran’ for your thoughtful words, addressed to Robina. Your comments make sense to me and I am sure to many more of us on this thread, that even though grieving for a loved one, we can still appreciate the good in our lives. Each day, as you say, is a gift, and I try to appreciate every minute, of each day, especially when remembering and feeling the loss of my dear husband, as I know he would want me to do just that. I realise I am indeed blessed in that I had such a wonderful husband, and have a son, daughter, 5 grandsons who are all young adults now, siblings, though the latter live some distance away.

It is good to hear you are “better” at living without your Barry now, although, of course, you will never forget him. I am now trying to make each day ‘Special’ in that I look back at the end of the day and realise it had been a good day. Today, I felt refreshed after having attended an exercise class ‘for the elderly’, which should improve my mobility and general wellbeing. In the hours following I relaxed in my home, and now it is evening I feel it’s been as good day.

As you say in your letter, Spring is on the way and we are all part of a continuing cycle. I am beginning to feel that as time goes on, we are allowed to grieve and also to go forward.

My best wishes to all here. Deidre.

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Hi. It is 5 months since I lost my partner of 22 years and feel I will be lonely for him for ever. I am 78. X

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Hi Deidre,

When I first started reading your blog, I thought it was mine - although I didn’t remember writing it!!!

I too had been married for 59 years and he died 10 months ago and yes, I do feel lonely most days, also empty and sad.

Like you I’ve had some good moments even having a great laugh the other night when I went out with the hiking group I belong to, yet when I get home that loneliness greets me at the door.

I notice now that the house has a different smell as I enter, I don’t recognise it, it doesn’t have that smell that I remember.I don’t cook many meals now living a lot on snacks and soup.
The house doesn’t need cleaning as frequently as there’s only me. I use the same few dishes over and over, hardly ever having to take out extra.

It sounds as though I might live in a dirty, smelly house - I don’t it is just my observations on entering my empty house.

I’m about to embark on some exercises at a new gym I’ve joined, not sure I will like it though, it’s all about trying new venues, creating a new life for myself, but I don’t really want it. Admittedly I wouldn’t want my husband back as sick as he was and I wouldn’t want him to live just for me, not how he was, but I do miss him and then I’m back to lonely again.

I think Deidre what you are feeling is just grief, how can we adjust in 10 months after living with our respective husbands for 59 years, my whole adult life just like yours.

I wish you well and hope that your better moments get a little longer and the loneliness in your life gets a little less.

Gogs

I’m so glad this thread has come back to the top of the pile, and your contribution just adds to what is a great store of positivity.
I just recognised so much of what you said there. Occasionally the plates, cups, dishes make it back into the cupboard but mostly just sit on the drying rack. I feel more justified about the lack of cleaning as it’s unnecessary… no argument here.
Truthfully, I should do more tidying up but something (anything) diverts me from it. I’m just slipping into the untidy person my wife said I was. I push myself to cook occasionally. I’ve a freezer full of food which was frozen in portions for two and I need to work out how to use it. Most of the time I live on ready meals, which has a benefit as it’s difficult to overeat. That’s a good theory as long as I don’t have chocolate in the drawer or Magnums in the freezer.
Like you say we just hope the better moments get longer and the periods of despair get shorter. I’m trying really hard to find gratitude in most things.

Hi, I’m thinking of moving too as I think it may be the answer to my own feelings of isolation and loneliness since I lost my son 7 months ago . My daughters live close but I rarely see them. It makes the loneliness more intense knowing that they are getting on with their lives in every way and never calling in when they pass by my house. I feel like I would be better off away from here. Another part of me doesn’t want to leave because I still feel my sons presence. The other reason is finding the energy to sell my house and all the added stress that comes with it. So I guess I will just keep grieving and wondering why my daughters cannot find the time to speak to me. I feel bewildered by their behaviour . Perhaps it’s too soon for me to think of moving but you will know when it’s right for you. Take care of yourself

For me, I think the issue about moving house comes down to a battle between sentimentality about giving up a home of 42 years and rational practicality in giving up a house.
If I knew I wasn’t going to age, remain fit and healthy and not become trapped by my home I could make some sort of case for staying. I’ve realised that too many rooms means too much untidiness, or devoting time to deal with that.
I’m not sure that moving, in itself, would address issues regarding loneliness. I live in an isolated location so it’s an obvious start but I suppose it also comes down to a determination not to be lonely. Being active and not passive.
It’s a good start is thinking about it but, like you, then thoughts of how take over. How much energy, how much stress. I suppose the other issue is will it all get worse, and more problematic, by putting it off.
Like most things, there is no absolute truth. Stick or twist.

YorkshireLad, you have given many of us sound advice and probably ‘pushed’ some of us to be more positive, yet now you have told us of your own failings and it has ruined the image. Plates and cups etc left on the drying rack, lack of cleaning, ready meals. Eating chocolate is not a healthy option for a walker (say I as I stuff chocolate eggs into my mouth as I type). However as usual you have said the right things Like you, I hope for the better moments and do try so hard to be grateful for the things that are around me. It’s so hard some days though.

I really can’t resist replying to you. Family can be so cruel and thoughtless but I have thought back to my own behaviour when I was much younger and I don’t think I was any better. I was thoughtless when my father died suddenly, only in his forties. True they lived 70 miles away but I could have been more supportive. Same as when my grandfather died and friends lost loved ones. Not till I lost my husband did I realise the true meaning of grief and what it brings with it.
My husbands daughters have totally ignored me since their father died. Yet we never had a cross word in thirty years. Won’t reply to phone calls or letters, they live locally. My own daughter was initially supportive and true she does live in Spain but when she returned she didn’t think to let me know she was leaving and no call from her since. My son is thirteen miles away but I’ve heard nothing since the funeral, so I’m going to see him soon and try to build some sort of relationship but I dislike his lifestyle and will have to put that to the back of my mind. Like you I feel bewildered but they all have their own lives and just don’t have the time to be bothered with us, we have to find our own way in life but a quick phone call from time to time would make all the difference. I never wanted to live in this house as it was my husbands, I told him I would leave if anything happened to him, but now it has I can’t be bothered to go through the hassle not at the moment anyway. Your right we will know when it’s right and if it’s meant to be it will happen.

It’s much worse than I have admitted to. I’m trying to think of excuses.

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