Dealing with loneliness is never pleasant, but the loneliness after divorce nearly crushed me. Fortunately, it also taught me a few things. What’s the best way to deal with loneliness after your divorce? Keep reading. Let me share what I now know.
I felt lost and isolated. I was losing the life I knew, my husband, and the father of my children. But that was not the worst loss.
The Most Painful Loss
The most painful loss of all, the one that made the loneliness almost unbearably heavy, was that I had lost my best friend. I grieved that loss. My husband had been my best friend for almost 20 years. I suppose my best friend had been leaving me bit by bit for months, but the separation made it real in a new, more painful way. It was a pain that took my breath away and made it hard to get out of bed.
I felt pathetic. I probably was pathetic, truth be told.
Spoiler alert: I made it through those dark days. And so can you.
The loneliness after divorce can be part of grief and sadness, and it can even venture into depression. The ideas below will help you cope with the pain of loneliness after divorce.
But first, here’s a little bit about the underlying emotional state that makes it difficult to deal with that crushing loneliness.
What is Grief?
Grief is the natural reaction to loss. You can experience grief after any type of loss, not just death and divorce. You may experience grief after a job loss, when you lose a physical ability due to an accident, or through the aging process. Often, when people have a child with a disability they grieve the dream of the healthy child they had hoped for.
In divorce, one of the most difficult griefs is not the loss of the relationship you had, but the loss of the relationship you dreamed of having. This can be more painful than the loss of what was.
If you don’t know how to help a grieving friend, if your friends don’t know how to help you, and/or you don’t even know what to ask, I have some ideas for you.
Understand that sometimes there is nothing you can say to make it better. Sometimes, it is about being with the hurting person. Simply being able to be together in a peaceful silence can be incredibly comforting and special to a hurting person. Really listening is one of the most precious gifts you can give.
And if your friend is a hugger, offer a hug.
What Depression Feels Like
Sometimes when we are grieving we venture into the land of depression.
Depression can feel like sadness, but often depression feels more like nothingness. It feels like apathy. You just don’t much care about much of anything. It is as if you can’t feel enough to even be sad. This nothingness can be somewhat peaceful if the depression is not too severe.
Other times, the pain is overwhelming and you feel like you are lost in a deep, dark pit. There is a ladder in that dark place to help you get out, but you are so confused you not only cannot find the ladder, you begin to doubt that one exists. You aren’t really thinking straight and feel like you are in a fog.
When to Seek Help
Yet other times, the pain of depression is crushing. You don’t think you can possibly bear this pain. If this is the type of depression you are feeling, you need to work with a professional counselor.
If you are depressed for more than a few days, go see a professional. A psychotherapist/professional counselor can help you find that ladder and climb back to joy and happiness.
Related: 9 Tips to Overcome Depression
Does Depression Go Away?
There are different kinds of depression. There are people who struggle with depression that is a chronic illness. Sometimes this type of depression will go away, but other times you need to learn to manage it.
Then there is the depression that comes with a huge life stress like divorce. If you do not have a history of persistent depression and this is part of adjusting to divorce and your new life, it will most likely go away. If it persists for more than a few weeks, get professional help to avoid getting stuck in grief or depression.
The Many Faces of Loneliness After Divorce
Other Moms Share
1. Reach Out to Friends When Dealing with Loneliness
“Phone a friend or meet up with one at a local place that has a play area for your kiddos. As a single mom I tend to hyper-focus on getting everything accomplished and allow my loneliness to build to the point of isolating, which is no good. I also tend to use busyness as a reason not to reach out (so as not to disturb other mommas). Don’t be afraid to reach out to other momma friends. They need wholesome adult visits too.” Naomi
Getting Loneliness Off Your Back
It may feel like loneliness will crush you, but let me assure you it will not. Like me, you are too strong and too solid. Loneliness is temporary. Like any other kind of healing, feeling connected and happy after divorce takes time. Use the tips above to speed up the healing process and find your new normal.
Do you have other tips to for shedding loneliness after divorce? Please share them in the comments!