One of the most difficult parts of a bereavement can be the feelings of loneliness that come with it. Here we explore some of the most common reasons for the link between grief and loneliness and give you advice about how to combat it.
Why grief can make you feel lonely
Loss of companionship
If you lived with the person who died you might now find yourself living alone, perhaps for the first time. Even with lots of friends and family visiting it can be hard to adapt. It’s normal to miss someone just being around. Our clients often say ‘I miss someone to do nothing with.’
Loss of connections
When someone dies you might also lose connections with the people you knew through them. Perhaps they were the one who organised your social life, or you often spent time with their friends or family. A death can put a strain on these types of relationships.
Lack of invitations
Sometimes invitations can dry up after a death. You might find that soon after the funeral support and sympathy seems to run out. It might feel like those around you have stopped making a special effort. If you previously socialised as a couple, as a family or as a group of friends, you might now feel like it’s difficult to return to social events alone.
It is a sad fact that people do lose friends when someone dies. People feel awkward about reaching out and can even stop making contact all together.
If you were caring for someone
If you were caring for the person who died, it might now have been a long time since you’ve been able to socialise in the usual way. Caring for others can be a lonely experience in itself. But when the caring role ends it can also leave a big gap, with many hours to fill which were previously spent looking after someone else.
If you have problems with your own health or you have a disability this can make reconnecting with others even more difficult. A death can affect income, benefits and financial arrangements. This can make it harder to spend time socialising.
Grief can feel lonely
Even if you have lots of people around you, grief can still make you feel lonely. Someone has died that you had a unique connection with and it can be hard for other people to understand what you’re going through. This is often made worse if the death was very traumatic. If you are younger, you might be one of the only people your age to have experienced this type of loss. It might feel like nobody else understands.
What can help?
Searching for community groups in your area.
Many organisations hold community meals and other activities tackling loneliness. If you’re feeling ready, you could even try to join a new club or activity. This could be anything from sport, to crafts or even a new faith group. The website Meetup is a great way to find people in your area with similar hobbies. Let’s talk about loss also run meet-ups for people aged 18-35 dealing with grief.
Volunteering is a great way to meet new people in your local area. If you’re interested in helping other bereaved people you can find out more about volunteering with Cruse here.
Sometimes it just takes one person making the first step to rebuild lost connections. Try contacting those who were in your life before you were bereaved.
Learning more about the Campaign to End Loneliness
They have lots of advice and suggestions about what you can do to help with loneliness. There are also suggestions and links to organisations who can help on the Let’s Talk Loneliness website.
Talk to someone.
If you are struggling with grief and need someone to talk to Cruse can help. Find out the ways we can support you.