Quick Hitters are brief responses to Questions posed by author Fred Colby to his fellow WSN contributors. They offer a variety of perspectives on some of the most challenging questions facing new widowers. Enjoy.

Quick Hitter Question #4: How Can I Overcome the Terrible Loneliness I am Feeling?

Jim Winner:

It’s so easy just to sit in the house. That’s such a wrong thing to do. Go for a walk. Join a gym. Sing in a community choir. Get engaged in your church. Find something you believe in and volunteer for it. In other words, make yourself get out and be involved. It took me a year or so to figure that out.

Tom Peyton:

When my wife died almost three years ago, I was overcome at times with loneliness and fear. 

I felt it was the dark cloud that would hover over me for the rest of my days. 

With time I began to realize the way to overcome loneliness is to reach out to others.

It’s important to spend time with family and friends. Initially, they may feel uncomfortable, but you let them know you need them to listen.

I enjoy going out to dinner and spending time watching sporting events with several friends.   

I enjoy being with my children and grandchildren and socializing with groups of people I know. 

What’s most beneficial to me are the monthly Zoom meetings I share with follow WSN-MO members 

We help each other over the hurdles and share a lot of laughs. 

Barry Selby

The goal of overcoming the feeling of loneliness is a limited and frankly impossible choice. It can feel terrible; however, overcoming it doesn’t work. The question  is better framed as “How do I make peace with my feelings of loneliness?” It is a reminder of whom you lost that may remain with you. However, you don’t have to let it run you. Reach out and connect with people you trust, be with others that have lost someone, not to commiserate, but rather to celebrate the person you lost, and to feel the joy that you had with them. That’s a good beginning.

Abel Keogh:

Being lonely is one of the worst parts of being widowed, but it’s also something that you can do something about. Be proactive and find ways to interact with people. Find a meet-up group that does activities that you enjoy. Reach out to friends and family and invite them over for dinner. Volunteer your time with a non-profit or charity. Find a hobby or something that keeps you busy. Find ways to fill your days with things that will bring joy and purpose. That will kill the loneliness faster than anything.

Christine Baumgartner:

Allow and accept help from family and friends.

Attend Grief Share meetings.

A couple of my favorite books to recommend are:

I wasn’t ready to say goodbye (if it was a sudden death) by Brook Noel & Pamela D. Blaire

Second Firsts by Christina Rasmussen

Jesse Brisendine:

Here are some keys to overcoming loneliness:

  1. Learn to love yourself.  This is arguably the hardest but the most important thing to do. Get great at enjoying your own company.
  2. Make a “Wish List” and write down all the things you would like to do (if you are on a budget, come up with low or no-cost options to include). Make it a point to engage in at least one of these activities every week.
  3. Even if you are not ready to socialize, a great first step is to go to places where people are and allow yourself to be around them.  Go to the gym daily. Grab a book and go read on the local park bench.  Volunteer in your local community (I’ll go for walks and pick up trash as I walk).
  4. Fill the empty space. Put on music (upbeat) or the TV (uplifting/inspirational, NO NEWS) when you are home alone.  Engage in conversations out loud with yourself (yes, I am suggesting talking to yourself) about a topic you recently read about.
  5. Make a “reconnect” list of all the people through your life, friends, family, and business colleagues, and begin to reach out to at least one person a week.  A simple message like “Hey ___, I was just thinking about you and remembering that time when _____!  What’s new in your life?”
  6. Be gentle with yourself and set realistic expectations. Pain is a part of the loss.  It doesn’t just disappear overnight. It is healed by taking one tender step at a time. 

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