My husband was ill for 10 years before he died. He died 15 years ago when he was 47. I did not realize I was avoiding a lot of the pain. I had my own deals, i.e., brain surgery as a kid, legally blind from the brain surgery. I am not emotionally “normal”. I have some learning disabilities, perception problems, spatially challenged. I live alone, have only one real friend nearby, my son lives far away. I have a brother nearby, including his kids and their families. I am not part of that family, even though I moved here thinking I would be.
Some mornings I wake up and think I hear him in the kitchen leaving for work. I think of how great it would be if he were still with me. I feel like an extra person when I go out. Sometimes during the evenings, if I am concentrating on something, I will hear a car go by. I actually feel and think I am back where we used to live. I forget where I am until I look up and see where I am.
I see a psychiatrist now and have for a long time. I love her, but I need to talk to someone because there are times I feel so alone.
I think expanding your social networks is a very wise idea. Your psychiatrist is helpful but you need more than she can offer. The more that you can connect with others the less isolated and lonely you will feel. I would recommend a grief support group. Many communities offer these types of groups. Griefshare.org can assist you in finding one of these groups in your community.
You might also want to consider volunteer work. Is there a cause or a societal problem that you are passionate about? If so, then perhaps you can donate some of your time working for those causes. Examples include: working at a soup kitchen that feeds the homeless, tutoring someone or assisting the staff at the local pet shelter. Volunteering has many benefits. It provides the opportunity to connect with others, have new experiences and to discover new talents. Many people find volunteering to be quite rewarding.
Finally, I would also suggest adopting a pet. Pets can bring a great deal of happiness into our lives. Pets can’t replace our loved ones but they are great companions. Recent studies have shown that owning a pet can significantly improve psychological health and decrease loneliness and depression. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle