I KNOW LONELINESSBy Karen L. Whitmore
I know loneliness
Loneliness is a common problem in our society. It often plagues those in isolation, but it can also strike in the middle of a crowd. It can descend upon people of any age, but perhaps it is the elderly that feel it most.
Karen, a new member of Pasadena Village, has had more than her share of loneliness. Here is her story.
I know what loneliness is! I knew when I moved from my lifelong home that I would miss my friends. My close family members have been gone for some time. But I had no idea what would be the effect of changing everything in my life that was familiar: routines, church, grocery stores, hardware store, the library, the nursery, coffee shops, roads and neighborhoods. Also, I had difficulty recognizing landmarks or understanding directions.
Then the pandemic hit! It added another dividing point in all our lives. The world I was getting to know closed again. I was isolated from family, because they are involved in hockey, and they were protecting me from exposure. Masking increased the sense of isolation even more.
Yes, I do know what loneliness is!
It’s a feeling that no one cares.
It’s sometimes irrational.
It’s worse in a new location, city or residence.
It’s worse when you hold it inside and don’t share it with someone.
And it’s even worse at holiday time.
Even when remaining in the same city, loneliness can crop up when people change residences or neighborhoods. Or if they move from their family home to a residential setting with new neighbors. Or if they are restricted from their accustomed activities. Or if their marital status changes and they are widowed, causing people to relate to them in a different way.
Research indicates that loneliness is linked to high blood pressure, depression, heart disease, and lack of social connection. It can be more deadly than heavy smoking or obesity.
I began to feel at home in my world when I met a few people who shared my interests. Zoom was a lifesaver for me. I participated in a writing class on Zoom from the beginning of the pandemic. I was able to stay connected to a small circle of friends in my former town through Zoom. I discovered that writing my memories also helped ease the pain of loneliness.
Then I became acquainted with Pasadena Village. Meeting its members, sharing a ride to an event, and receiving a few meals when I had cataract surgery gave me validation and helped me to feel that I was not alone. Science Monday offered me new perspectives. TGIF Friday introduced me to more Villagers. The Critical Issues group addressed current concerns in our world today as we shared thoughts with each other.
If Zoom is not for you, the Village can set up a regular date to meet for a meal at least once a week. The Village can also provide regular phone contact with someone who cares.
I find that I feel less lonely when I reach out to others to talk or provide assistance. A pet who likes to be near me also helps.
Someone asked me how long it took me to feel at home here. I told them it was not until this year, the beginning of my 7th year in South Pasadena.
Pasadena Village has provided many routes of connection to help combat loneliness. I am grateful for the help the Village has provided me. (And I am now healthy!)