Loneliness During the Holidays

The other day I asked Cleo right out, “Are you ever lonely?”

She didn’t answer, of course. Not directly, anyway, but I had the strong impression, from the way she pushed her head against my hand, that she wanted to have her head scratched and be petted… so, I suppose, that was her answer.

I don’t think animals’ dwell long on that feeling. They live life in the moment. When they feel the loss of a mate, their animal babies, a human with whom they have depended and been close, perhaps they do. Since they live in the moment, I suspect the feeling does not last long in most cases.

It’s different with humans. Perhaps it is because we have an imagination and the memories of someone we miss may plague us. Whatever the reason, I suppose, no matter how young, or how old we may be, it is part of the human condition to be lonely at times.

I feel that way, now and then, and I have a couple of ways to combat the feeling. One way is to look outside myself. I’ll pick up the phone and call a friend just to listen to them tell me their troubles. That works every time. Another, is to work at something for which you have a passion. I have my writing. No morning passes that I fail to wake with joy and filled with enthusiasm to meet the day.

Still, one more way is with Cleo. When Cleo, my cat, comes in from her play and lets me know my purpose as her keeper, I give her a pat on her head and some special kitty bits. I feel better.

At a time of the year, when many of us are the center of a human bee-hive of family and friends, and have work we enjoy, feelings of loneliness don’t pay us much attention. Still, there are many of our friends, who are older, or because of illness or the loss of someone near and dear to them, feel alone. They suffer more often from those great cripplers; loneliness and depression. In a world so wonderful and amazing, some may wonder why being lonely has gained such control over so many people’s lives.

When you offer anyone (human or animal) attention, that act dispels loneliness. It is evidence that somebody cares. I spoke of my cat and how she helps me rid myself of that feeling. You may say, ‘Cleo is only a cat. How can doing so small a thing, and for an animal help you feel less lonely?’ That simple act, no matter it’s for a small gray animal, or another human, it makes us forget to be sorry for ourselves.

We have a duty to be good to ourselves and, at the same time, to remember we have a debt and a responsibility to do good to others. When we forget ourselves and reach out to others, that reassurance and comfort we need is our reward. All we are remembered for will be what we have done for others.

It’s not easy to do, to reach outside yourself, to call a friend and open yourself to them. Admitting you are lonely may require courage. What is so valuable, when you do, is that your friend will open up in return. Both, you and your friend, always feel better from the exchange.

Volunteer for some program that needs help where you can be active and help others. Speak of your loneliness to a friend when it lays you low. Both persons benefit. When we give a small part of yourself to others … you will get in return, far more than you have given…. And it’s a sure-fire cure for the Blues.

This article was first published in The Bloom on December 27, 2018.

Gene Paleno

Gene runs his life at a full sprint. In his ninety-three years he's dug ditches, painted signs, played semi-pro football, worked as a taxicab driver, an insurance agent, and a school teacher. He's been a technical artist, a marketing director, and a business owner. He served in World War II, raised four children, and was married to the love of his life for fifty years. He's an accomplished oil painter and skilled in ceramics. He's written fifteen books, including the definitive Lake County History, and doesn't show any signs of slowing down.


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