Alone or Lonely: Which is Worse?

  • Collage, Mitten-hands stop me from reaching out. Noodle-brain -in my mind, not my heart

    First, I’ve been feeling a bit lonely lately.  Lonely in the sense I’ve not had time, taken time, to be in contact with my good friends, locked in my home office with paperwork.

    Second, I saw an interview on one of the morning shows about how some women were choosing not to marry at all or wait until their late 30’s, 40’s or 50’s — how their lives “alone” were not lonely.

    Third, I was talking to a friend about how difficult, how lonely it must be for someone to lose a spouse through death.
    She looked at me with a slight questioning surprise in her eyes when I said that it can often be more painful to be alone in a relationship than lonely without one.

    The question of which being more painful, alone or lonely, is an interesting one.
    In my practice, I see the anguish of couples who are without connection, without love, without companionship while IN a relationship.  I’m absolutely not diminishing the anguish, the pain of losing a beloved spouse or partner.

    I’m simply saying that loss through death can be mourned and the finality, while always difficult, can be acknowledged and accepted.  
    When the relationship is dead and both partners are still alive the grieving never stops, the pain often keeps increasing rather than diminishing.

    For those of us with chronic medical conditions there is often a pervasive sense of being alone.  A thought that no one can really understand, no one can help even if they want to, that we have been abandoned by God or worse yet, being punished . . .

    I think that loneliness has to do more with our state of mind than state of our body or state of our relationships: How we view the world;  How we define our expectations, fantasies, shoulds, coulds and woulds.
    Upon more reflection the most devastating might be  
    being alone AND lonely,
     also a state of mind.
    Powerful thing that noodle-brain.