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My Top 10 Tips on Embracing Loneliness & Loss

May 2016

Since my feline soul mate and best friend passed last month I have found the loneliness on some days to engulf me and take me back to dark places that I would rather not revisit. I have certainly recovered from depression but I have had to be very mindful that I don’t slip backward during this challenging time in my life.  If you haven’t read my tribute to my girl yet click here.

Death is one of the hardest situations to deal with in life and yet we all must at some stage. And its not exactly a life experience that we are given any education on how to handle. We certainly must cry and cry and cry.. but we also must begin to take steps to move past the loss and embrace the loneliness.  Every situation in life is temporary; life is always moving and changing. Life will certainly never be the same but it will be different and it will be happy again.

For those of you who don’t know me, I do live alone and I enjoy my own company probably too much! It has taken me a very long time to get to that place of loving my own space. But that space was always shared with my girl so I could argue that I have never lived alone. Up until now…  20 years is an awfully long time to share your space so intimately with a feline companion.

I went through the first stage of grief, desperately wanting to replace her like yesterday! I didn’t want to open my front door for one more day and be greeted with silence. I felt like my heart was breaking over and over again every day! My apartment feels like an empty shell. And after making a few enquires and even agreeing to take on two rescue cats I found myself back tracking. Knee jerk reactions are not always the best way to handle situations despite our desperate need to suppress negative feelings. Taking on a pet is for life, it is a serious commitment and I knew I wasn’t ready.

So after having many conversations with the urn… and the dozens of photos of her on my bookshelves I decided to wait.  So now I am stuck with sitting with my loneliness. I have decided to use this time to do further work on myself however there are still times where I cant control the tears and I wanted to share with you some tips on how to deal with that ache in your heart and the overwhelming urge to suppress it with food, drugs, alcohol, shopping, staying in bed or whatever is your vice!

“I think it is very healthy to be alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.”

Oscar Wilde

These tips can be used if you are trying to get over a break up or grief of any kind when being alone is not what you want but it is actually probably what you need!

  1. Clean. I have found myself doing a lot of extra cleaning in the last few weeks… There are the basic set of cleaning chores every week but there are also the additional ones that only need doing once in a while. So when I could feel the tears welling up and taking over out come the rubber gloves! The kitchen/bathroom cupboards, both inside and the outside, the top of and all around the fridge and/or washing machine, under the bed, the fan and filter above the stove, the linen press etc. etc. I get a great feeling of satisfaction when I clean something I haven’t for a while. I keep going back and admiring my work lol!
  2. eBay. This has been through necessity of needing some extra funds also but there are always heaps of things we hang on to and rarely, if ever use, that someone out there will pay good money for. So if tidying up your wardrobe or the garage was a task from tip one that create an eBay pile, take photos, load up and wait for a bit of extra pocket money to hit your account! It is a great feeling to receive unexpected money.
  3. Charity. If what you have tidied up is not worth selling or you feel like doing a good deed, which is yet another rewarding feeling to take yourself out of your loneliness, then load up the car with all the things you no longer need and take it to your local charity. Getting rid of some of the stuff we accumulate over time sends a message to the universe that you are making space for new things to enter your life. Cat, relationship, job, money or whatever it is that you want in your life make some space by putting back into circulation those things that you hoard but never use!
  4. Exercise. This is a no brainer for me, in fact, I have found myself overtraining the last few weeks which has caused some old injuries to flare up but that is another story! But just moving your body and/or getting outside in the sunshine and fresh air does wonders for how you feel about yourself and your life. I know this is a tough one for many, but if you are determined to beat the blues and not succumb to the loneliness then getting outside even for a short walk will lift your mood. You know this one…
  5. Take a bath. Now the weather is getting colder at night a nice warm bath is so relaxing and soothing. Quality me time without any interruptions with the added benefit of detoxing my body with Epsom salts. It helps promote quality sleep too which can be tough when you are missing someone that used to be beside you at night.
  6. Sing & Dance. Put on your favourite music, loud if you can, and make yourself sing and dance. Your alone, who cares! Uptown Funk still gets dragged out when I am fighting the tears. How can you possibly cry when watching Bruno dance and while you are singing “I’m too hot (hot damn). Don’t believe me just watch!” Prince died not long after my girl so I thoroughly enjoyed listening to my old time favourite and reminiscing about how in love I used to be with Prince!
  7. Gratitude. When we are suffering loneliness or loss it is hard to feel grateful so we have to deliberately and purposefully go through the list of all the things we do have rather than focusing on what has gone. Food in the fridge, running clean water, a nice warm bed, electricity; we are so very, very, very privileged to live the lives we do. Take a moment every day to think about, or even write down in your journal, what you are grateful for.
  8. Watch/listen to motivational speakers. Rather than turning to the trash on TV purposely seek out something uplifting. My old favourites come out; Bob Proctor and Abraham-Hicks. The latter was very helpful as they talk about the loss of animals, how their spirit passes over and how they have no fear of death like we do. In fact any challenge we currently face there is a clip on YouTube by Abraham to help you manage your emotions and give you a different perspective to your challenging feelings including loneliness.
  9. Meditate. Yes; I know we think this is a load of hooey…but it really does help whether you can feel it helping at the time or not. There is plenty of scientific evidence that tells us that meditating calms the nervous system, balances our emotions and gives us the clarity and radiance to deal with lifes challenges. Do yourself a favour and just try it for 10 mins a day and I PROMISE you that you will handle those lonely feelings much better.
  10. Affirmations. I have been meditating so long I now have control of my thoughts and I have trained myself to do affirmations whenever I find idle time in my mind. Just like meditation, I too thought this was a load of hooey but if you are constantly telling yourself I am so lonely, I miss _____ (fill in the blank) then how are you going to get past the lonely feelings…?  Isn’t affirming that my life is full of wonderful, loving people, I am blessed to have a loving feline companion or whatever the opposite is of how you feel a more productive way to assist getting over your tears….?

I have not put in a tip here to call a friend or family member to talk to as this is not my default reaction being the introvert that I am.  And while there is tremendous value in connecting with people when the loneliness is engulfing, there is also great benefit in facing these feelings and utilising the time alone to further grow and develop. To move past the grief and to be ready to welcome in the next chapter of your life. If you avoid these feelings they will only keep resurfacing until you do face them! And it will prevent you from letting go and moving forward.

It is also important to remember that there is no time limit on grief. Everyone moves through these painful situations at a different pace and in their own time. But if you do feel that it has been going on too long and the you cant stop the daily crying then please do seek professional assistance.

Spending quality time alone, I believe, is paramount to leading a happy and balanced life. But there is a difference between seeking time alone to replenish your soul and avoiding time alone to escape facing your feelings. I am glad I didn’t make the mistake of getting a new feline companion straight away. It has given me the time to grieve and accept my feelings of loss. To honour my time with the most incredible cat ever and make room in my heart for my new feline companion.

So what do you do when the loneliness engulfs you? Leave me a comment below with any further suggestions on how you overcome the tears and lonely feelings.