Written By Empress Of Pearl Powder
Sarah Anderson Nov 4, 2023
Loneliness significantly increases your risk of mental and physical decline and premature death, especially in the elderly. Loneliness can be a death sentence.
Loneliness causes feelings of sadness, emptiness, disconnectedness, and pain, and can leave you anxious, stressed, depressed, and mentally unstable.
This blog is not just about feelings of being alone, everyone has those bouts, its focus is on the loss of a spouse, child, a pet, and the elderly when their siblings and close friends pass.
To learn how to deal with this pain, Read on.
The Truth About Loneliness
Loneliness hurts. It's an empty bottomless ache. A wrecking ball that can cause low self-esteem, insomnia, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, stroke, PSTD, sickness and death. Loneliness is associated with mood disorders, higher rates of dementia, and increased levels of inflammation.
Research states that the death of a husband or wife is well recognized as an emotionally devastating event, being ranked on life event scales as the most stressful of all losses.
When you and your spouse do everything together; when you're joined at the hip; when the two of you have become one; when they are your heart of hearts; when you are best friends, soulmates; when they say I love you throughout the day - when they pass - your whole world disappears and you become lost in the wilderness of your mind. Especially when you are both retired and have lived 10-20 years in contentment and comfort together in your home day and night.
You no longer have a spouse to support you, to encourage you when your down, to lift you up when you're sad. You are no longer joined with your spouse. You lose your identity. You no longer have him/her to help you make decisions, to laugh daily with, to do things with, to talk with morning and night. You're thrust into a whole new role and that old life - and you, no longer exists. Your new norm becomes painful at every turn.
You want to reach out into the unknown world and bring them back, to hold you and embrace you, and encompass you in their all comforting arms. But it's just an illusion, a figment of your imagination. And you must come to the realization, it is NOT going to happen.
Anyone who hasn't experienced this type of loss has no idea how devastating it is. It's worse than a divorce. With a divorce you have anger and hate to hold on to. With death, you're left wide open, vulnerable, and unprotected, no longer secure.
Yes, sometimes you think you're going to be okay, then all of a sudden an aching pain takes you to your knees and tears flow from your eyes.
Keys To Help You Get Through Your Loneliness
I've been through it all, loss of family, friends, and kids. As I write this blog my unbelievable adoring husband passed just 3 months ago. And the worst loss has been my spouse. But I will not lay down and die, although sometimes I would like to, but I do not have that in me.
So what do I do to keep my health and sanity?
Whenever those painful feelings come, I say the Lord's prayer and instantly those feelings go away - for awhile.
Pray for strength and peace. You need that.
I do get angry, never at my husband, but at the doctors who fumbled so horrifically, and the dishonesty and lack of consideration of hospice (not all hospice are alike), which helped cause his horrifying death. I cast those ugly thoughts and feelings down and give them to God.
2. Say NO
Say "NO" to your angry thoughts. I find myself, when angry feeling arise, saying "No" to those thoughts and then they pass. I don't want to live with those irate emotions. They have to go.
Forgiveness involves an intentional decision to let go of resentment and anger. Often people get mad at their spouse for leaving them, (thank God I haven't had to deal with that) and others around them, so you mustn't let those feelings linger. Forgiveness lessens the grip it has on you.
4. Stay Busy
Idleness can wreak havoc on your emotions. It can keep you feeling lost and forlorn. Take up a hobby or activity, get a part time job, join a group, a church, get outside in nature as often as you can. Invite people over or out for lunch or dinner. Check up on someone who is sick or having a bad time.
Just don't overdo it. There's nothing wrong with laying in bed once in a while, just don't make it a habit. If you don't feel like cooking, don't. Go to door dash and order your food. You don't feel like cleaning, don't, leave it for the next day. Do what you can do today, tomorrow is another day to get it done, be sure to do it then.
5. Encourage Yourself
My husband was the greatest encourager. No matter what I did, he would always give me kudos, as I would him. That was one of the things I really miss. So now I have to encourage and motivate myself - and others as well.
Tell youself, "Good Job." Be proud of your accomplishments. Remind yourself that you are worthy, that everything's going to be okay. Give yourself pep talks throughout the day. Learn to smile and laugh.
Surround yourself with people who will encourage you and lift you up, those who love you and support you. This is not the time to let negative people in.
6. Set New Goals
The goals you had before your loss are more than likely not going to be the goals you will have now. So, you have to re-set, and re-start.
Start every morning with what you want to get done that day.
Write a blog
Make a list of the things you'd like to try.
Do something you enjoy. No, you may not feel like it right now, but do something anyway. That's the only way you'll ease your aching heart.
7. Pamper Yourself
Whatever you do and whatever your loss, pamper yourself. You've been through the wringer, you need to try to relax and de-stress.
Pampering yourself can include a wide range of activities, so do something good for yourself that you enjoy and makes you feel comfortable.
Exercise can help your mental and physical health. It will not only help boost your mood, but improve your sleep and can have a profound positive impact on depression, anxiety, stress, and more. It can also help you build resilience so you cope in a healthy way.
Research suggests that modest amounts of exercise can make a real difference, no matter your age or fitness level.
9. Eat, Eat, Eat
When my husband started getting sick, all he could eat was soup and soft stuff. So, I ate what he ate and I lost 22 lbs FAST. And since I wasn't overweight it scared me.
After he passed I wasn't hungry at all. But I knew I had to eat and try to gain my weight back. But it was difficult. However, I forced myself. I am still forcing myself because it doesn't seem to want to go back on much.
Now, you may do the opposite and eat continually and gain lots of weight, but that's not good either. This "eat" step is only for those who find it difficult to eat in dire situations.
I drink Boost Plus, and try to eat healthy foods, but it still is a heavy process. So, if you're appetite isn't normal as usual and you don't want to eat - force yourself. If you're a senior, it will be harder, but you can do it, and so can I.
Eat smaller meals and snacks during the day. Get those saliva glands working again. And cook if you can. Home cooked meals are better for you.
10. Be Thankful
You might say, "Be thankful for what? What do I have to live for now.?" There is always something to be thankful for.
"Studies have shown that feeling thankful can improve sleep, mood and immunity. Gratitude can decrease depression, anxiety, difficulties with chronic pain and risk of disease." ~ Mayo Clinic.
There is power in gratitude. Practice being thankful for the little things that surround you everyday, for gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with happiness.
I'm thankful to God for walking this path with me and holding me in the palm of His hand.
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus, (Philippians 6-7).
11. Take One-Step, One Day At A Time
Don't rush things. Take it slow and steady. Take each day as it comes. Everyday you'll get better, but it won't happen overnight. You may always feel the pangs of missing someone, that's only normal, but as time goes by, the pain won't be as prominent if you stay focused and motivated. Everyday the weight you carry will lighten, and one day you'll awake more refreshed and ready to begin your new journey.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
You're not okay, but you're alive, and know that you will be okay, someday. Hold on tight you'll get better - one day at a time.
The Loss of A Mate Can Shorten Their Spouses Lifespan
Many people who have lost a spouse dye shortly thereafter. When a husband or wife dies, the surviving spouse faces a higher risk of dying over the next few months as well. At some point or the other one partner will die leaving the other and this will happen to everyone.
Why does a spouse die shorly after their spouse dies? This usually occurs with the elderly. The surviving spouse stops taking care of their own health because of stress, grief, and loneliness. Other causes may include self-neglect, lack of support network, lifestyle changes that follow the death of a spouse.
Also, the stress of a partners death leads a spouse to suffer from 'broken heart syndrome,' which is when stress weakens your heart muscles and makes you vulnerable to heart attacks and strokes. The elderly who lose a spouse are at a higher risk for coronary disease.
So, please take care of yourself and do whatever is necessary to restore your health and life. You are still here and there are many people who need you, even your pets. Yes, it will be tough, but you CAN DO IT.
Don't be ashamed to seek counseling on your road to recovery. Admitting you need help is not always easy, but everyone needs help sometimes, and reaching out for help is a courageous act. It can help you become stronger, wiser, and more resilient.
Painful anxiety is inevitable in all who feel themselves alone in mere self-dependence amidst the sorrows and difficulties of life. It is possible to sink below this anxiety in mere thoughtlessness and hopelessness; it is possible to rise above it by "casting our care on Him who cares for us."