My attorney married his college sweetheart after she finished medical school.
They were married only a short time, which he describes as the loneliest three years of his life.
To this day, he has never remarried.
In 2018, loneliness emerged as a silent epidemic in North America.
In today’s almost-post-quarantine-world, we have a national health crisis on our hands.
Oddly, loneliness is not defined by our surroundings nor does it have a direct relationship to distance or geography.
We can feel lonely and emotionally alone even in beautiful space with people we love.
It’s an internal sense or comfort level and is distinct from solitude.
Solitude is an opportunity for rest and rejuvenation. It’s voluntary and tends to enhance our personal growth, creativity and well-being. It brings up emotions…but in a good way.
Loneliness feels heavy and is burdened with shame. Stigma surrounds it and creates an unconscious desire to escape. The brain says, “Anywhere but here.”
In research circles, there is an evolution in thinking about loneliness and its link to depression, anxiety and addiction.
Meanwhile, most people have become experts at suppressing loneliness with magical thinking and….let’s admit it….our over use of electronic devices.
When that doesn’t work, we withdraw, stay busy or self-medicate with something or someone.
As unrelenting as the state of loneliness may seem, it is reversible.
First, we can lift the burden of shame by recognizing and acknowledging that we all need human connection as much as we need food and water.
Then we can de-stigmatize loneliness by talking about our experiences and understanding it for what it is:
a near-universal human condition we can do something about.