Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Alone Time---Is It Unhealthy?

I think I'm finally back to blogging--
  • Tom's back to work and recovering well from his motorcycle accident.
  • We made it through our very first hurricane last month. (6 days without electricity, 2 weeks without TV, 3 weeks without Internet) 
  • The week after Hurricane Matthew I enjoyed exhausting myself with my first Book Fair for the school library I work in.
  • Today I plan to vote, and who knows what tomorrow will hold!
On Saturday Tom and I facilitated a grief seminar at our church to help people through the holidays. We briefly touched on Solitude vs. Isolation, so today's post provides a bit more about it. I have much more to catch up on so sign up to receive this blog by email so you don't miss out.
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Do you find yourself with a lot of "alone" time now as a widow? Besides dealing with the grief, solitude can be a time of re-collecting oneself, re-structuring yourself and recovering from loss.

But is there such a thing as too much solitude?

Truly, there is. Do some googling about solitude vs. isolation during grief, and consider your own situation. Are you just alone, or are you intentionally hiding? Are you avoiding certain situations and people who would be good for you? Are you afraid to go places simply because you're afraid? Are you building a wall around yourself so you'll never be hurt by grief again?

Although that wall might keep grief out, it will also keep out the growth and love God intends to develop in you.

Once some time has passed and you realize you can't be stuck in your house forever, it's time to make some choices about solitude. Decide whether it's friend or foe. Chances are it's a little bit of both.

When I first moved here, I had lunch with a wise widow I'd met at church  and we touched on this subject. I spent most of that first summer in isolation. I was in a totally new part of the country. I'd had face-to-face conversations with exactly five women here in this town. That's not much happening in three months! Tom worked twelve hours a day, and I had holed up to write and unpack. The beastly heat and humidity kept me indoors too.

But it wasn't good. I'm the sort of person who needs solitude, but I was in isolation. It was very negative.  I asked Brenda, my lunch partner, how she dealt with the silence and the long hours of widowhood. Even though I'm remarried, I knew I could learn a lot from her experience. She said when the walls started to close in on her she headed out to the mall just to be around people. So simple! But I treasured her advice and it really worked!

How about you? Are you benefitting from solitude? Or are you hoarding (and hurting) yourself with isolation? Could you use a change of scenery? Let's urge each other to regain some balance in this area. What are some things you can do to guard against isolation? Share your comments today.



  1. This is such a great topic, Ferree! For me, it has been important that I not miss what God is teaching me through this journey. It seems as though He has deliberately taken me into the wilderness to teach me more about Himself. In fact, Hosea 2:14 has become my life verse. I have a tendency to "forget" God when I have people to take me from the isolation, so I am learning to protect my heart when I have too much activity. Does this make any sense?! I'm so glad that Tom is better, and you are back to blogging!

    1. It makes perfect sense to me---this is a special time on your pilgrimage and yes, a walk through the wilderness. Perhaps its Psalm 23's "valley," or like the walk Naomi and Ruth took from Moab back to Bethlehem. It sounds like the Lord is leading you faithfully and tenderly and I think you'll see some wonderful and precious gems of wisdom in this experience. Please keep me posted!

  2. Happy that you're back!

    What an interesting phrase: "hoarding" oneself. I believe every widow needs to find her balance between solitude and isolation. When I know I have a people-day coming up, I don't mind spending the day before it alone at home. But this summer, when all the church activities dropped off, I'd have three days in a row alone (I live out in the country). I knew it wasn't what I wanted, but I didn't yet know just what I did want. It's a journey, that's for sure.

    1. Hi Susan! Thank you for the welcome back, and I'm glad you picked up on that phrase "hoarding" oneself. I don't know how I came up with it, but I thought it was interesting too. I think there are times we're tempted to hoard ourself just as much as we'd do anything else we treasure: not use it, just stick it in a closet because we don't want to hurt it or use it up. It'd probably make a story of it's own.
      I think you gleaned some good insights on your situation and temperament this summer and how to pace and balance yourself for those times alone.It is a journey, and the good news is that it doesn't last forever. <3

  3. This is such a fascinating and important topic. An article I read commented that social interaction is even more important for health, longevity, and well-being than nutrition or exercise!

    So I am very intentional about getting out. For a while, I went to Starbucks every day to read and think and journal and talk to the wonderful baristas. Now I balance busy days out with welcome solitude to regather resources for the next expenditure of energy. Like today, after some work at home, I ventured out into my neighbourhood. I was "collecting" names! James at the library, Sophia at the grocery store, Olympia at the bakery, Barbara at a church. It's easy to have wonderful conversations about things we each care about. Then I come home refreshed and renewed. And I sleep better, too. :) So I am very purposeful about mingling with others. I am part of three seniors groups, a support group, a book club, attend musical functions, tutor an eight year old boy, and meet with friends, both younger and older than I am. To avoid loneliness, one must put oneself out there. At a course I am taking on Italy, I met a lady who invited me to join her for lunch, so I did! That said, I need my space and my time and my privacy, and make sure I get that, too.

    Thanks for all you do, Ferree.

    Love and hugs,
    Honey Bee


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