Monday, December 31, 2018

Are You Facing A Lonely New Year?

Do you find yourself with a lot of "alone" time now? A widow once told me that it wasn’t being alone that bothered her; she was used to that because her husband had travelled a lot for work. “I’m OK with being alone, but being lonely really hurts.”

Many widows will attest that loneliness is one of their hardest problems. It’s pervasive. Like a weed it fills the cracks and chips in our broken hearts with an ache that keeps coming back. God himself declares that it’s not good (Genesis 2:18), yet people die and their loved ones have to live alone. How do we adjust? How can we be alone but not lonely?

Here are some tips and ideas that can aid us like steps on a path.

BE AROUND PEOPLE. When it feels like the walls of the house are closing in it’s time to get out and be around other people. Go for a walk at a mall or farmers market. Sit at a McDonald’s or Starbucks with a coffee and a magazine or newspaper. Simply being around people is good. Visit a friend or relative and pitch in to help with cleaning or cooking. The sounds of everyday life like dishes clattering in the sink, a tea kettle whistling and children running up and down stairs are sweet to a lonely person.

STAY WARM. If you have a fireplace, the warm blazes from it can ward off both a cold night and the icy grip of loneliness. Drink a cup of hot cocoa or chamomile tea. The University of Toronto reported a connection between loneliness and feeling physically cold. Warmth helps.

STICK TO FAMILIAR ROUTINES. Routines provide structure for our day and help us know what to do next. Life isn’t so overwhelming and lonely when routines keep a semblance of order and control. In the evening prepare for the next day—lay out what to wear, plan meals, and check for appointments and chores. After that work on handcrafts, sewing or puzzles to pass the time, relax, unwind and get sleepy.      

READ. The well-known author, C.S. Lewis, once said, “We read to know that we are not alone.” I don’t know if he said that before or after his wife died but he certainly knew the loneliness of widowhood. Reading is another good night-time routine and hobby. It’s informative and relaxing. Stories of real people, other lands, history, nature, travel can perk up our interest in life once again and ease pangs of loneliness.

HELP OTHERS.  In Chera, a Christian magazine for widowed people, widower Bill Lake wrote about how he dealt with loneliness: “I had to remind myself that idleness is not God’s will for a person. I am not talking about activity for activity sake. But as I exercised my spiritual gifts in serving others, I began to leave loneliness behind.”

LEARN FROM BEING ALONE. One widow told me this: “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 Him. I tend to “forget” God when I have people to take away my loneliness…”

Making peace with loneliness means finding new ways to be around people, staying warm, employing healthy routines, reading, helping people and learning what God intends. It’s a journey, not a race. Each little step you take will leave the lonely path further and further behind.    




  1. Happy New Year and thanks for this post. Loneliness is definitely a challenge for me. Sometimes I feel like I am going to lose my mind or pull my hair out. I feel like screaming it is so consuming. I cry a lot about this very issue and what to do. I pray for answers to this challenge so hopefully this is a start for the new year. I have to find where I fit in life without my husband. Having nobody to talk too, laugh with or just be there is extremely challenging. I am not a phone person so that's not a answer for me. I do enjoying reading and puzzling. I feel like I am drowning.

  2. It's January 1st, 2019. A brand new year lies ahead of me. Last night - I rang in the New Year, half asleep, with my 4 dear dogs, scattered across our queen sized bed, in their assigned places. A new year, and 365 blank spaces to fill. Where should I start? I feel there is nothing really important or worthwhile to look forward to in this brand new beginning. Instead - I look back with longing and tears just ready to spill out any moment. The horizon is bleak and uncaring, without my husband in my life anymore. Today is my 32nd wedding anniversary. My third one without the other half of this union. My beloved husband & I were married on New Years Day, 1987. He's been gone since July 18, 2016. How's a widow supposed to "celebrate" that wonderful day, without her mate? Ours was a very simple wedding. It was not the first time around occasion, for either of us. After previous painful & toxic relationships on both our parts were finally ended, we started out on this new path together, eventually to discover that not only were we finally & truly in love, we had also found our soul mate in each other. We felt we both had Biblical grounds for re-marriage, so eventually, we rededicated ourselves to Christ, and started attending church together.

    Jesus made all the difference in our marriage, smoothing out the difficult parts, as long as we worked closely with Him, drawing us closer to each other and to Him, until we found a joy I don't think either of realized we could have.

    Where the time flew to, I just can't comprehend, especially as I look back on our actual wedding day. It was a very simple ceremony in our local town office. The Justice of the peace graciously agreed to marry us on New Years Day, and a couple we were good friends with, served as witnesses. She also lent me her wedding dress, and he took the pictures. Afterwards, we went to my parents, who also stood in with us for more pictures. Mom baked us a small wedding cake, and my brother & his wife who were also there, decided to join us for a celebratory Chinese dinner. A far cry from my first wedding day, with all the hoopla & trimmings of a big wedding. But this time - I was marrying a man who truly loved me, and actually wanted to be my husband, and not eventually leave like the first one did, because he didn't want to be married anymore..

    As widows, I think we are of a paradox. On one hand, very grateful to God for our wonderful husbands & for the years we were together. On the other hand - often bitter and yes, even angry, that our husbands were taken away... We weren't finished with them! To add to the misery, life still happily goes on around us, for many friends & relatives with their spouses, & we are often the 3rd or 5th wheel. And it's not that we begrudge them their mates, we just long for our own, so suddenly ripped from our lives. And - as Ferree puts it, "God knows you want your old life back". That simple statement brought me a lot of comfort when I read it, because - yes - I wanted, and still want my old life back with the man that I fell in love with so many years ago, and still love with all my heart and soul. And - God knows it, and doesn't blame me for feeling this way. I mean- who would deliberately choose widowhood?

    So - looking out my window, and also to these blank calendar pages, I can only put what's left of my life into His strong and loving hands. Now I will have to fill them in together with Jesus, instead of with my husband. God knows... And I think, has tender regard for those who are left to carry on alone. And because Jesus is the Resurrection, and the Life, there is the hope, I will see my beloved one, once again.


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