One of the most common emotions people express when they come in the store is that of loneliness. This emotion varies from person to person and never looks the same for any two people.
The feelings of loneliness may result from an older, retired person having lost their companion and spouse. It may be an individual who has lost their mother and very best friend. And sometimes it is a parent who has lost a child.
Loneliness is an emotion that nearly everyone experiences at some point in their lives. Yet, it is a topic that many seem to shy away from. Why? Because the emotion creates a sense of vulnerability.
So how does one overcome these feelings of loneliness and turn them into feelings of purposefulness?
Turning Loneliness into Purpose
The answer to that question is that it isn’t easy. In fact, it may be a little uncomfortable at first. All change can be a little uncomfortable at times.
The best advice I have received on tackling feelings of loneliness came from a 90 year old customer who had lost his wife, his sister and several dear friends- all in the same year. While there were many emotions he was struggling with, he explained that the underlying theme was loneliness. Everyone that had been so close and familiar to him was now gone.
Then he said something that will always stick with me. He said,
I grew tired of being lonely. I thought to myself that my life has more purpose than just sitting here in my recliner with my tv. So I decided to go out and rediscover my purpose.Recent 90 Year Old Customer
I learn a lot from my older and wiser customers. And this one was a powerful one. He chose, at 90 years old, to go out and rediscover his purpose. His determination and bravery is admirable!
Rediscovering One's Purpose
I asked him how he rediscovered his purpose and he said it wasn’t easy. But he started by looking for places to belong. He volunteers at a local non-profit one day per week, goes to the local Senior Center for lunch several days per week and has started contacting old classmates he hasn’t spoken to in years.
While being active and getting involved doesn’t take the pain of his losses away, it has helped him rediscover that he has purpose and value. And that he still has a lot of living left to do!
Here are our Top Ten Tips to help combat feelings of loneliness:
- Seek professional help if you feel as though your feelings are unhealthy to you or those around you. There is no shame in taking care of yourself!
- Join a hobbies or special interests club. Don’t know where to find one? Consider starting your search on meetup.com
- Get out and do something new. Libraries, local activities centers, senior centers, downtown alliances, places of worship, non-profits- all of these places commonly host events and activities that are free or low cost.
- Volunteer your time. There are countless local non-profits that would love to have you involved!
- Work on genealogy and reach out to the (living) relatives you discover.
- Record your memories for future generations to cherish. This blog post has great tips to get you started.
- Contact friends and relatives you have not spoken to in a while.
- Learn to use new-to-you technologies.
- Cultivate friendships with your neighbors.
- Communicate your feelings and needs to those closest to you.
Whether you are experiencing feelings of loneliness due to the death of a loved one, or are feeling the effects of pandemic-related loneliness, take comfort in knowing there is hope. As you journey through rediscovering your purpose, give yourself time and grace to create, learn and engage with those around you.
If those around you need help understanding the grief you feel, click here and share THIS blog post with them. It is our single most popular post when it comes to helping others understand HOW they can help you best
What are some things you have done to rediscover your purpose? Has it helped with any feelings of loneliness?