How To Deal With Loneliness When Your Kids Aren’t Coming Back
The loneliness definition is complicated; it can come at any age and in lots of forms. When I was a young mother, I never thought I’d ever be lonely or miss my kids; and I had my work, so people were all around me all the time. But a sense of loneliness affected me in my marriage, and I missed my mom who had passed away before my children were born. I felt alone with all my responsibilities; I was grieving and lonely without knowing or admitting it. So, you can experience isolation and aloneness even when you have a husband and children and work. What is loneliness anyway?
A common loneliness definition is “A state of solitude or being alone.” The other definition is “Loneliness is not necessarily about being alone. Instead, “it is the perception of being alone and isolated that matters most” and is “a state of mind.”
I’ve been a lonely married woman, lonely divorcee, a grieving daughter who missed her mom, a teen addict’s hated mom who missed having a loving daughter. Then my children grew up, got healthy, and moved away to lead their own lives. That was a good thing, and I try very hard to be there for them but not too close to interfere. Creating balance in relationships is another responsibility moms should take seriously.
Then I stopped writing mystery novels, and I missed being a book author. Each situation challenged my resilience, and I never talked to anyone about what it means to be or feel alone. Ask me how I am, and I will almost always say, fine. I grieved for each change in my life, so add grief to the loneliness equation and you have a painful emotional hole, or many of them, that need filling. How can you find new ways to deal with loneliness and loss. Connection is the key to recovering from loneliness.
Lonely and Grieving Moms
Moms and wives everywhere feel loneliness and sadness because caring for others is hard, especially when there is addiction in the picture, as there was for us. In addition, we tend to get married and expect things to go well. We may not be equipped for the reality that there is no happily ever after for anyone. We think if we have a husband or a family, or our kids live to grow up and move out, we should be happy.
But we’re also changing. We’re getting older. We may gain a few (dozen) pounds, lose our looks, find our husbands less attractive and attentive than before. They may have lost interest in us. We don’t have anyone we can talk to about our real emotional inner lives. What are we doing to replace the natural losses that come with getting older? Most of the women I know focus their complaints on their weight and looks, when the emotional losses run deeper than that.
Loneliness Definition Is Deeper Than Being Alone
Loneliness affects people in different ways, and for this reason there are four distinct types of loneliness identified by psychologists: emotional, social, situational and chronic.
Emotional loneliness is when we don’t feel listened to or cared about, appreciated, supported, or loved. This can happen in a marriage, extended family, or even at work. It can happen at any age.
Social loneliness is being isolated, not part of a group or community. This often happens with seniors who lose their spouses and can’t get out to meet and have activities with friends anymore. It also happens with children, teens, and young adults who feel different, have disabilities, or are painfully shy.
Situational loneliness occurs when you move to a new community or place. If you’re shy, making friends can be too frightening a task. This also can happen at any age. But here I might add empty nest syndrome that worsens after your routine of taking care of children and family is severed. Your children have grown up and moved away, so you’ve lost the daily involvement and connections are more formal.
Chronic loneliness can be all of the above and is persistent sad and depressed state of mind. Your state of mind depends on your emotional life and mood habits. State of mind is something we can change.
Resources To Deal With Loneliness
Are you divorced and missing the family that’s not coming back? If you’re a teen, you might be lonely because your family is troubled or feel different and don’t fit in. Many moms don’t talk about how much they miss their grown children who now have their own lives. I wish I could cook for my family again. I’d love to have my grandchildren to myself for a few days. I miss holidays. I’m already thinking about them and planning for meals we won’t have. They have their own traditions now. What can I do for myself?
Four Ways To Deal With Loneliness
- Join a group. If you are struggling with addiction in your family, don’t just complain. Join Al-anon. We know from personal experience that the burden will lift and you won’t feel alone anymore when you hear from people who are experiencing what you are. You can join a zoom meeting if you don’t want to travel. Do something faith based, worshipping is a good component to dealing with loneliness, but you need the connection with other people. Remember connection is the key.
- Get Spiritual. For us being spiritual means a practice that is both physical and mental. Doing Tai Chi, Yoga, Guided meditation, strength training all require concentration that help you transcend whatever worries or burdens you carry. Pilates is another practice that requires thinking and moving. Believe it or not, chanting also works. I like buddhist chants and try to do some every day. Exercise and mental challenges improve brain function.
- Change Your Mood Habits. You can break a bad habit in 30 days. Breaking habits is all about substitution of one activity for another. When I quit drinking alcohol, I created new zero proof drinks to make the cocktail hour bearable. I started doing puzzles, word games, journaling to refocus my thinking habits in the evening. During the day I get outside and walk. Forest Bathing is great. If you can go barefoot, do it. Spend time with a pet. If you don’t have a pet, take walks with someone who does. Engage with a neighbor over food. Someone I know just baked up a storm and gave the goodies away to grateful lonely neighbors. Volunteer: make a day when you do something to make a difference. Change Your Mood Habits.
- Engage Old Passions. No matter how young or old you are, you can find joy and gratitude in activities you love to do. Grow something. You don’t have to have a big garden to grow something. I have many pots of tiny orchids. Watch movies, if that’s what you used to do. Join a book club and read more. This gets your mind off worries you can’t do anything about. Many people have restored their love of cooking. Cooking is a great act of love. I still do a lot of food research. I make vanilla and yogurt, and cream cheese and bake bread. If I don’t want to eat it, I give it away. Paint if you used to paint. Rescue and animal. You get the idea.
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