Nine Ways to Cope with Loneliness after the Death of a Loved One

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At various times, loneliness is the scourge of everyone from the young, old, incarcerated and homeless to children, shut-ins, and to the rich and the poor. No one is immune from its grasp. It occurs because of a host of conditions: abandonment, death, divorce, alcoholism, geographical relocation, no communication (living together loneliness), and the lack of human contact, to name a few.

Loneliness also manifests in various forms: cognitive (no one with similar intellectual interests and values to interact with), behavioral (no one to go places and do things with), and emotional (one believes he/she is unloved, all alone, and without emotional support). Sometimes, mourners suffer from all three.

Here are nine ways to confront your loneliness and change your perception of it.

1. Build your inner life. Most of the experts on loneliness agree that the basis for managing it begins with self-development�strengthening your inner life, recognizing your importance, and loving yourself. Specifically, make improvements on your ability to spend time with yourself, then with others. Make your self-talk more positive.

Start by changing your belief that loneliness is something that happens from the outside, to: it is essentially something we do to ourselves. The bottom line is, we can reduce our sense of loneliness since we created it.

2. Acknowledge loneliness and discuss it with others. Like any other problem, get it out in the open. Talk to others who have had to deal with it. Model someone living alone who copes well. Look for help from your church, school, social center, and friends. Read. Go for it. Start your anti-loneliness program with a major commitment: �I am taking action.�

3. Work at reducing social isolation. Loneliness becomes a major stressor because of a lack of human interaction. Start finding ways to meet others. Join a bowling league, square dance club, book or Bible club, or become a library or hospital aid. Start going to brown bag lectures, women�s centers and athletic clubs or take a course on a subject you like. Go to various interest groups. Volunteer. Reach out.
4. Work on your social skills and developing new friendships. You can never have too many friends. Habitually initiate conversation. Become an expert in recognizing and meeting these four needs that everyone wants including you: attention (a telephone call, use the person�s name when you meet, remember birthdays, etc.) acceptance (regardless of how a person looks), appreciation (thank you notes, sincere compliments), and affection (hug, smile, say I love you).

We all have individual needs but we also have very similar needs. Become an expert at developing many specific behaviors that meet those four needs.

5. Monitor your negative self-talk. How you talk to yourself about who you are and how you feel about yourself can add to loneliness or begin to diminish it. Loneliness is triggered by our own thoughts and attitudes. The power of belief that you can diminish loneliness is enormous. Tell yourself you are going to beat it.

6. Determine the time when you feel most alone and start rearranging your schedule to fill those hours as much as possible. If weekends are the worst, factor in your schedule things you can do to fill those hours.

7. Beware of some of the beliefs and myths that bring confusion, disappointment and maximize loneliness. Here are a few that have crept into our culture. I must conceal my fear of forever being lonely; there�s something wrong with me to feel this way. I won�t be loved. Nobody would want to be my friend. Others living alone are doing so well. The group fun myth: fun only happens in twos or more. The perfect friendship myth: a good friend agrees with you on everything. Discard this rubbish.

8. Develop solo activities that can be enjoyed each day. There are many things that you can employ as a regular part of daily routines. Do Yoga, Tai Chi, draw, or do art work. Plan a daily stress break using sounds of the sea audio tapes. Read. Play a musical instrument. Send email. And, most important, take a walk. Download music or interviews on an ipod to listen to. Renew each day by being in a natural setting.

9. Begin immediately to generate breakthroughs. Breakthroughs are doing the things your loved one or others did for you, that you should now do for yourself, or things you have never done by yourself before. Here are some that other mourners have done. Fill your own gas tank and take your car for servicing; take a day trip; eat at a restaurant alone; put out the rubbish; plan ahead to deal with bad days; try the �pet connection;� go on an Elderhostel trip; go to a movie by yourself; plan a party for one: yourself.

After you successfully make a breakthrough, celebrate. Tell yourself you are gaining, changing, and are proud of your progress.

Again, in the final analysis, you can change loneliness to solitude and social isolation to essential interaction with others�every day. The moment you awake, you have a choice of the attitude you will take into the day. Seize on the take action attitude to interact, reach out, and heal. It requires effort and wise choices. If you invest yourself in others, loneliness will shrink into the background.

Article Source:

Dr. LaGrand is a grief counselor and the author of eight books, the most recent, the popular Love Lives On: Learning from the Extraordinary Encounters of the Bereaved. He is known world-wide for his research on the Extraordinary Experiences of the bereaved (after-death communication phenomena) and is one of the founders of Hospice of the St. Lawrence Valley, Inc. His free monthly ezine website is

Article By: Lou LaGrand

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