Aloneness. It is vastly different from loneliness, but to understand that concept, one must experience both. The idea for this blog post occurred to me this morning after reading a beautifully expressed rendering from a dear friend on Facebook. She wrote her feelings for the world to see. She has experienced loneliness to the depths only she can know. I know this woman and respect her as a dear friend who embraces life and loves with her whole heart. She lost her husband many years ago but feels lonely often. I am pleased to see her expressing her pain and learning to not only cope but thrive in the wake of loss. I wish this for anyone who has lost a loved one and is trying to move on and find a way to live and not merely exist.
Loneliness is an emotion and a very real pain that sometimes lasts a lifetime. I lost my wife over four years ago and still experience the depths and pain of loneliness, but not constantly nor consistently. The bouts of loneliness appear when triggered by a memory, a song, a photo, a holiday, or any number of cognitive references to our time together. That is why I know the difference between loneliness and aloneness.
My life now welcomes aloneness. It actually staves off some of the painful bouts of loneliness because I have found purpose and joy, and I am comfortable with myself. Aloneness is a state of being, and it is up to me to glean all the meaning and goodness out of my aloneness that is possible. Aloneness does not mean that I do not want to be around people. When I feel that I need social interaction, I seek it out and thoroughly enjoy the experience. I can find happiness during a simple trip running errands.
Different members of my family have expressed concern about me being alone so much, and that is because they love me. It is difficult to convey to them that I am happy. Oh, I would rather live out west, and I would like more money to spend. That said, I live well and have my own little apartment in which I can create, learn, relax, and renew. That says a lot, wouldn’t you agree? I lost my father a few months ago, and his amazing wife is going through the grief stages at this point. It is important that she maneuvers her path in her time, not ours. We must be her shoulder while also giving her the room to rediscover herself and make decisions about life going forward. She is one of the strongest women I have ever met, and I am excited to see what her future encompasses.
There are no shortcuts to experiencing loss, grief, and healing. There are, however, people who want to help. If you have lost a loved one, it is your journey now, and you decide your path. Take your time, reflect on your amazing life, and answers will come. You are the boss of your future. Just knowing that you have time to experience life will eventually motivate your efforts to move forward and find your joy. You may indeed be alone, but aloneness brings great discoveries, finding purpose, and joy. Don’t forget the joy!