Individuals’ interpretation of loneliness
Published on: Sunday, October 18, 2020
By: Rev Dr Peter Abas
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The existence of a painful void. Each of them described their feeling of loneliness as a kind of emptiness. The feeling of emptiness is perceived as a void. 

It was described as a social and emotional aspect of their lives. 

Vicky describes, “It is a kind of emptiness; an empty feeling of being alone.” 

Three participants mentioned that the death of their spouses has created a situation of incompleteness. 

Even though they are still interacting with others, the incompleteness, due to the absence of their spouses, is still the reality that they are expressing. 

Josephine expresses, “It (loneliness) is just a feeling of incompleteness to be living alone.” 

Others spoke about this state of silent suffering as a kind of whole needing to being filled. 

Jessica describes, “There is always the hole in my heart from losing my son.” 

They find it very difficult to express their feelings and describe their experiences of loneliness in one word. 

A state of being overwhelmed with work and emotion. “Overwhelmed” is a state that occurs when someone is unable to cope with an issue experienced within a social and emotional situation. 

The eight elderly individuals are still living in their houses and apartments independently. The incidental theme of being overwhelmed was prominent among the participants. 

The experience of being overwhelmed appeared as they performed their daily chores. Due to the absence of their spouses and significant others, they were overwhelmed because of the burden of work they performed without assistance. 

Vicky expresses, “I feel overwhelmed and realise my limits when doing something, which I am incapable of doing.” 

Physically and emotionally overloaded, some of them were incapable of being effective in doing their daily chores. 

Andrew says, “The feeling of helplessness occurs because of the inability to handle the emotion alone.” 

Even though they were determined to get work done, some of them became helpless, as they were unable to carry out their chores unassisted. They also became emotionally helpless. 

Josephine describes, “It is difficult to lose someone. This was a feeling of becoming overwhelmed when dealing with my own emotions.” The inability to focus in doing certain chores also affected their daily situation. 

A state of emotional pain. During the interview, participants described their lived experiences with a different feeling. Some participants experience loneliness as a feeling of sadness. 

It is typically an emotional suffering. Josephine expresses, “My heart is still longing for him (her husband). 

Loneliness is sad and emotionally unpleasant.” Through the expression of words and gestures, the participants pointedly expressed the feeling of sadness. 

The sadness also was accompanied by the hurt that occurred in their lives. 

Sonia describes, “Sadness is hurting in the heart, and living alone creates a sort of emotional pain.” 

Being alone, they also described certain stages of sadness and hurt as experiences of inner suffering, which they can only continue to verbalise. 

Some of the participants admittedly said that sadness with crying was another manifestation of inner suffering resulting from living alone. 

A state of no direction. Since they live alone, there was a time that some of the participants felt they were lost while attempting to perform their daily activities. 

Sonia states, “After my husband passed away, I was lost and burdened with many tasks.” The lack of involvement in activities caused them to feel lost in what they wanted to do in life. 

Alice describes, “Loneliness is similar to getting out of confusion and searching for direction.” Besides this, their feelings of not being understood by others lead them to experience the added fear in life. 

As Andrew says, “Now there is no one to talk to who truly understand my loneliness since I am without most of my immediate family.” 

Usually, feelings of being apprehensive and scared were frequently mentioned because they felt that they had no sense of direction. 

Sandra feels this way: “I feel lonely; as if I am also lost. It is terrible. The direction is unclear for me.” 

(Next week, I will delve into the in-depth interpretations of loneliness, it should be noted that names used in the article are pseudonyms) 

- Rev. Dr. Peter Abas is a mental health counsellor and psychologist, founder of Home of Hope: Counselling and professional Development Centre, a non-profit organisation. (He attended the International Research Summer School June-July 2011 held at the School of Health and Medicine in Lancaster University, United Kingdom on the topic of International Observatory on End of Life Care) 

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