Are you alone or just lonely? 124



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Have you seen people with half a coin on a pendant? I am inclined to wince when I see this. It looks like they are sending a message that, “I am one half of a person looking for another half”. Many of the popular songs tell the same story, that we are only half a person without a partner.




Lonely And Lost 

I see many people in their senior years who are very lonely, because their partner has died, their children don’t visit, or they are unable to get out and about, and thus feel isolated.

All of us are fundamentally, existentially alone. We are born singly. Even if there is a multiple birth, the babies come one at a time, alone.

In a healthy relationship, each partner uses all parts of their personality. In many relationships, however,  one takes a parent-like role  while the other takes a dependent, child-like role. In years past, this would occur with many women, who, when widowed, did not know the state of their finances and could not write a cheque. Today, it may be internet banking which stumps them.

I remember one lady who came to see me because she had recently put on a large amount of weight. I asked her what had been happening in her life. She told me that her husband had died suddenly and while in shock about this, she had discovered that her husband had lost all their savings on the stock market and the only thing of value left, was the house. She had dealt with all of this by having a brandy each night with a bar of chocolate! It was quite a struggle for her get back on her feet and she needed a lot of assistance from her son.


Alone With Choices

Accepting that we are alone as a full person, and able to use all parts of our personality when we need to, allows us to be a full partner in relationships  or to live a rich life as a single. I came to understand this in my own life after several painful relationships which left me lonely and hunting for my other half. Once I accepted that I was alone, I could choose who would add to my life, but not run it. I have now been married to a wonderful man for 25 years. I see myself as a wonderful rich cake and he is great icing. Now that we have been together so many years, I know that the icing has blended with the cake to some degree and that to remove the icing would be very painful, but I am still a wonderful cake.


The Ageing Element

As we age, we can become isolated because of lack of mobility or loss of faculties such as hearing and sight. If we see ourselves as only half a person, we are often still looking for someone, single or plural, to complete us. I see many who become bitter and resentful that children or grandchildren are not available to complete them and become very manipulative, which pushes people away and increases the loneliness.


Your Challenge

We can approach isolation as a challenge for us to overcome. We can learn how to use computers, and find online communities and activities. We can move into residential accommodation where there are others close by, and many facilities and activities are on hand. We can check with our local city seniors services which provide many options with transport provided.

In our earlier years, at work and at home, we used our mental and physical capacity to overcome challenges. We still have those abilities and can utilise them to overcome our isolation. We all need physical contact. It is a human necessity. Often we are reluctant to ask for a hug. So be daring and ask for what you want and need.


What social club or group are you apart of? How do you have emotional, physical and mental engagement with other people? 

Dr Ely Lazar and Dr Adele Thomas

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