Every reader’s email is important to me, and I do read and try to reply and to every single one. Why? Because truly, my mission is to help people. Each email has its own unique affect on me. Some make me feel inspired and happy, while others bring me to tears. But of all the emails I have ever received, the one that contained this question truly brought me to tears:
What do people do when there is no one left that loves them or even cares?
Let me offer a little bit of this reader’s background. She is in her early forties and newly separated after a 5 year marriage. The couple has no children and her father died a few years ago. They were very close. Her mom isn’t doing well and I am going to assume she doesn’t have siblings (although I could be wrong.) She said she has tried dating but that she always says the wrong things and has a lack of trust in men, which was caused by her marriage. She also lives in a small town where there are so few single people.
I think that loneliness and feeling alone might be the most painful emotion a human being can feel. I think that people innately crave love, intimacy and relationships. Are there times when people want to be alone (meaning not in a relationship)? Sure. But for the most part, we all want someone to love and be loved.
So, where can I begin to offer advice to this sweet, sweet woman who I just want to hug? Here are 10 answers to her question that left me heartbroken:
1. If you have faith and you talk to God, you are not alone. I actually do it all the time. You don’t have to go to church or synagogue to talk to God.
2. If you love yourself—appreciate your body and your health and the work you do and the hobbies and passion you have for things in life, you will feel less lonely.
3. Love comes to those who are willing to make an effort to put themselves out there, unafraid to show their true, authentic self and not care what others think.
4. You also have to make a practical effort to meet people. One date every other year doesn’t cut it if you want to find love. Dating is a numbers game and you can’t get discouraged. Every bad date will lead you to finding your person.
5. Reach out to old friends and reconnect. It doesn’t matter how much time has gone by. People are always thrilled to hear from a childhood friend, and as we get older, even more so.
6. Realize that there are people out there who love you and care for you—some who you might not even realize.
7. Travel if you can. Seeing the world and different places and pieces of history is not only enriching, but people are always meeting friends and romantic interests on trips.
8. Let the memories of your parents (whether they are alive or not) be a comfort in your loneliness. They still love you, even if they can’t call you and tell you that.
9. Have gratitude every day for basic things: health, food, shelter, even the beauty of the sky.
10. Never lose hope that things will change and you won’t always feel this way. You could be walking down the street tomorrow and meet the man of your dreams, and maybe he has three kids and six grandchildren. Maybe he has this wonderful family that will welcome you with open arms. The only way you have a chance at this scenario is to keep living every day, following #’s 1-9.
Lastly, when you are feeling like no one cares, remember that I care! You can always write me and I will respond.
The holidays are the worst time of year for people who feel lonely and alone, which is why sometimes I wish them away. Not for myself, but for those like my dear, sweet reader. But the hope lies in 2018, where anything is possible!
Jackie Pilossoph is the creator of her website, Divorced Girl Smiling. The author of her novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationship column, Love Essentially, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press. Pilossoph lives with her family in Chicago. Oh, and she’s divorced.