If there has been anything we have learned this past year, it’s the reminder that loneliness is not fun. Loneliness from family, from friends, from the things we love. There has not been anything easy about this year, and the tragedies just keep piling up from it.
As a divorce attorney, I understand the power of loneliness. It is the silent creeper that affects every part of your emotional, physical, and mental well-being. But it’s not something most people talk about enough.
Through the pandemic, senior citizens were lonely. Senior citizens at their care facilities are unable to see any of their families. And there are not enough people to care for them in proper form. Usually family is there to help warn and/or care for the elderly person. They can seek help if they sense something is wrong. But with no family there, the care facility workers are overworked, underpaid, and overwhelmed. These workers too are lonely.
Kids are lonely. They have been taken away from school, sports, friends, and loved ones and are forced into a new world of loneliness. We all know that social media is no alternative to the actual face-to-face value of school, teachers, and friends on these kids. Not to mention the parents trying to help their kids with online school, distance learning, or home school. Teachers too have less in-person interaction. They are exhausted and also lonely.
Senior citizens, care facility workers, children, their parents, teachers, and anyone who has shifted to working from home or isolating, has likely experienced more loneliness through COVID-19 than they may have in the past. And it is becoming even more apparent to me in couples who are getting divorced.
Divorces ramped up during the pandemic. Divorces don’t stop in a pandemic or when something bad happens. When two people want to be done, they will move forward no matter what. And what I have seen is that the “standard” loneliness that one feels when going through a divorce—the loneliness when their kids are with the other parent, the loneliness of not having their spouse to talk to at all times, the loneliness of losing friends and family through the divorce—is already a lot to deal with in a “normal” year. I address this “standard” loneliness and help you get through it in my new book, “No One Dies from Divorce.” But it is heightened this year. Not being able to go out, meet with friends, and do things that fill that void has heightened this immense sense of loneliness, and it is literally causing people to break. I fear for my clients and anyone going through a divorce right now; I want them to know that this will pass. That there is immense happiness past divorce. That there is love, life, and all good things to come. But when you allow loneliness to creep in, and set you on a path of deep depression, it could lead you to chose to end your life.
I’m pleading with you if you’re feeling lonely or hopeless. This is just a moment in time. There are people—family, teachers, therapists, loved ones—who are willing and waiting to feel your loneliness and help take it away. And as people, we need to be more aware. We need to recognize this power of loneliness and that, if allowed to creep in and take over, even a mentally healthy person can start to doubt their purposes or their light. We must do better. NO suicide is acceptable in these times when the virus itself is already claiming its own lives. We need to be checking up on our elderly, kids, and friends and family going through a divorce. We must help them realize they are not alone. And we can do that in so many ways. I can’t handle another tragedy this year. I can’t handle another kid or divorcee committing suicide. We must do better. It’s not enough to say he/she is probably okay. It’s not enough to think or pray about them. We must act. We must ensure that they know without a doubt that they are loved. We must love them enough to seek help for them when needed. We must love them enough to not let them give up.
Loneliness is scary. It’s killing people. But we have the power to make it stop.
If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States. Talk to someone now – 1-800-273-8255