How to Keep Going
by Evelyn Horan
Recently, my husband of many years passed away. And now, I am having a difficult time going on without him. I believe loneliness can lead to depression and hopelessness, and I want to avoid these feelings. I wonder how I can overcome a tendency to feel self-pity. How do I pick up pieces and begin again when nothing looks inviting and bright? What can I substitute for the empty place in my heart? How do I face the long days ahead?
Caring family and friends gently remind me there are others who are facing loneliness, often the result of the passing of a loved one, as in my situation, or the loss of friends and family who have moved away, or children who have gone away to college, or loved ones who are no longer close by, and the list goes on. I do understand, I need to be in close contact with my family, my children, and friends. I am trying to avoid withdrawing into myself by assuming they are too busy for me by visiting with them, writing letters, and making phone contacts to keep these ties strong and binding.
Loved ones also suggest, I should assess my capabilities, my interests, and perhaps my long forgotten hobbies and desires. I should try to be rid of self-absorption and look around at my present environment. The question I ask myself, is: can I put aside my loneliness by reaching out to others?
I believe I must try to do this, even though I have to push myself to make the effort. Folks tell me I might want to think of doing volunteer work of some sort in the community, since I became an efficient caregiver to my dear husband. They suggested, I could try volunteer work in a hospital to assist the organization in whatever capacity there might be a need.
As I allow my thinking to explore other areas that can help dispel loneliness, I think of more ways I could become involved. There are clubs and organizations to be sought out, and there is an immediate satisfaction in acquiring new friends, and as a benefit, I’m sure some can relate personally to my loss. When others tell me about their membership in various clubs and organizations, I notice their cheerful enthusiasm in recalling pleasant experiences in activities to stimulate and inspire their effort and interest.
Further, I could consider hobbies. Perhaps painting, exploring crafts, and engaging in many kinds of needlework, or trying other creative outlets would be helpful, as I especially enjoy needlework and crafts. Thinking of pursuing hobbies I have put aside, I could explore organizations and groups interested in specific kinds of hobbies. As a member, it is possible to meet new friends and enjoy their companionship.
Finally, I can continue to seek spiritual nurturing to help me begin again. My closeness to God can become more intimate and more personal. In time, thinking “outside myself ” will offer ways to fill my empty hours. As I consider the many possibilities to overcome my loneliness, I feel a new zest for living, entering my grieving spirit.
Beginning now, I shall try to plan busier and more active days ahead. Coping with my loneliness isn’t easy. But, I am confident that by trying some of these new ideas, I can get a good start in filling with contentment the rest of my days and thus avoid falling into feelings of depression and hopelessness.
About the Author
Evelyn Horan is a former teacher/counselor. Her articles and stories have been published many times in periodicals for children and adults in both secular and religious publications. She holds General Elementary, General Secondary, Pupil Personnel, and also School Psychologist life credentials in the state of California. Horan is the author of a number of books including Aging Requires a Gentle Attitude. Learn more about her work at http://www.authorsden.com/evelynhoran.