Overcoming Loneliness

Feeling down in the dumps?  Feeling like nobody really understands nor really cares? Feeling dreary, dark and bewildered and confused?  Feeling as if life does not have any real meaning and purpose?  Feel like just throwing in the towel and saying: I have had enough!

St. Ignatius of Loyola would call this a state of desolation. One of the most common manifestations of desolation is that of loneliness—you feel alone in the world and nobody really seems to care about who you are and where you are heading in your life.

If we do not know how to cope properly with this state of desolation then this state can wreak havoc in our lives and do irreparable damage to our spiritual life and even our natural life. One wrong decision made in a state of desolation could be life-determining. How many young people today have recourse to violence toward others and turn on themselves when swimming in an apparently endless sea of desolation?

This state of desolation—manifested through a deep sense of loneliness—is all pervasive in all societies and situations today now more than ever!  However, we are a people of hope.  “Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth!” St. Paul reminds us with these encouraging words: “If God is with us who can be against us…” and “When I am weak then I am strong…” (The strength being of course God).   The Psalm calls God a rock, as well as our light and salvation.

To overcome the state of crushing loneliness that we all experience in some periods of our lives,  let us  have recourse to this simple but efficacious practice that can be carried out anywhere and with minimum effort.

Psalm 23: The Psalm of the Good Shepherd

When the dark clouds rain down their torrential storm upon your lonely and forlorn soul open up your Bible, rewind back to the Old Testament to the most famous of all Psalms, Psalm 23

The Divine Shepherd
A Psalm of David.

1The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
3he restores my soul.

He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.

4Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.

5You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long.

Silence!   

Find some place of silence so that you can read, pray, meditate, listen and allow God to speak to the depths of your heart. God does indeed speak in the silence of our hearts if we allow Him.

“The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want….”   Allow these words at the beginning of Psalm 23 to speak personally and intimately to you and to your lonely and abandoned soul!  Pray these words slowly, calmly and with a truly open spirit.  Pray them a second or third time.   Then something powerful may happen!  God’s gentle but powerful grace will touch the depths of your soul with this knowledge: I really am not alone; I never have been alone in my life; I never really will be alone for this simple but profound reason: “The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want…”

Contemplative Scene. Then from there create a contemplative scene with you alone walking with Jesus the Good Shepherd in the verdant, aromatic pasture. Stop and look into the eyes of the Good Shepherd who truly loves you as the precious apple of His eye. You are of great importance to Him now and always!  He came to the world to save you, your immortal soul as if you were the only person in the whole created universe!

Unload. Now is the time to open up your wounded, lonely, sad and depressed heart and to talk to Him!  Of all the people in the world, the Good Shepherd is the best of listeners.  Not only does He listen to our words but can also read the deepest secrets of our hearts!   There is no need to put on a mask with Him. He knows you even better than you know yourself!   If ever there were a mind-reader or a heart reader, it would definitely be Jesus, the Good Shepherd.

Be not afraid. St. John Paul II insisted at the outset of his inspiring pontificate that the world at large as well as individual hearts should not be afraid to open the door to Christ, in other words to open up their hearts to Jesus, the Good Shepherd of their lives!

What and How to Say It

Use the simplest words; the Lord is not picky or demanding in language proficiency. Tell Him all. Remember the words of the Apostle St. Peter:  “Cast your cares upon the Lord because he cares for you.” Are you fearful of the future and what it holds for you? Tell the Lord this!  Do you doubt about the past due to the number and seriousness of your past sins? Cast your sins into the Heart of the Good Shepherd. He did not come for the saints but for sinners.  Is your heart severely wounded even from infancy? Fear not! The Prophet Isaiah teaches us about Jesus’ wounds:  “By His wounds you are healed.”  Are you suffering some form of sickness that seems to have no healing remedy? Never forget that Jesus healed the blind, the lame, the deaf, the paralytics, the lepers; He even brought the dead back to life. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Let Jesus be the Doctor of your woundedness and your sicknesses.  Are many fears and doubts looming up before your eyes? Then call out with all of your heart: Jesus I trust in you!

The Good Shepherds Listening Heart

In all that you say to the Good Shepherd He listens most attentively and with a kind, compassionate and loving Heart. Furthermore, the Good Shepherd is never impatient with anybody. No, He is the epitome of patience. Still more, the Good Shepherd is never too busy to walk with us, listen to us, talk to us and to console us.

In sum, in moments of crushing loneliness do not turn to the false gods of this world—drinking, drugs, porn, illicit  sexuality. These will only cast you into a pit of deeper loneliness.  Rather, turn to the Good Shepherd and open up your lonely heart to Him because in truth “The Lord is my Shepherd there is nothing I shall want…”

Fr. Ed Broom, OMV

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Father Ed Broom is an Oblate of the Virgin Mary. He blogs regularly at Fr. Broom's Blog.

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  • Emily

    Thank you for your article. I believe that single people who hope to be married can be particularly vulnerable to loneliness and all that comes with it. In this story on the website Conversation with Women, a young woman eloquently describes her discovery that God alone suffices. http://www.conversationwithwomen.org/2013/03/11/the-perfect-age-to-be-married/

  • Laura K.

    Loneliness is misspelled in the title of this article. No big deal. We know what you meant though. Excellent article.

  • Michael J. Lichens

    Whoops on our part. Thanks for your kind comment and careful eye.

  • Marty

    I have found that, as a single person, I must get out of the shell that says I have to follow everyone else. Let God be in charge and live your life to the fullest whether you meet the right person or not. Don’t grovel in self pity just because something good happens to someone else and we feel left out. Actually, we are not left out because when we meet God, we will find out what real happiness is if we have had faith in Him. A spiritual life is necessary for happiness. Spend lots of time before the blessed sacrament. After all, it is better to be single than to wish you were. Lots of folks make bad mistakes marrying the wrong person.

  • Philip Sieve

    Scripture also says no man should be alone, but it doesn’t have to mean without a spouse or it would counter the passage from Paul about it being better to be a eunuch for the kingdom of God (obviously, he expected most would get hitched or there’d be no more followers of Christ save for converts). Why are all these Catholic and Protestant single sites only for ones looking for love and not local spiritual companionship?

  • Noel

    This is an excellent article! Thank you!

  • Lisa

    I like this article but I wonder what you can say to the hundreds or perhaps millions of people like myself who are middleaged and without any hopes of marriage or children? I was raised during a time when women were told that the only thing that mattered was a career. I passed on marriage and children to work on career and still ended up making 70 cents to a man’s dollar. I know this sounds like such bitterness, but I really wonder if anyone can address these issues within the Catholic Church. I am very devout and I have passed up the temptations for drugs, drinking, sex outside of marriage… this still does nothing for the intense loneliness I feel. We are among you — the single never marrieds and we are dying of loneliness and no one really cares.

  • Blobee

    Lisa, I too am middleaged and never married or had children. I passed by a couple of possible marriages because I felt the men involved were not practicing Catholic enough. I was no holy roller, but I think they would never have come to church with me, or allowed baptism of our children. The worldly type of men. I never wanted a career, but felt forced to have one, because I was supposed to want one more than a family. Anyway, here I am alone. I often feel that intense loneliness. But I remind myself that marriage and children do not guarantee no loneliness. I was talking with a classmate at a 40 year high school reunion a few years back, and I told her I never married. She told me it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Her husband usually just came home from work, ate dinner without saying much, watched T.V., often sports, and then went to bed by 10 p.m. On the weekends he watched sports or did work around the house. Anytime she tried to plan an outing, or a vacation, mostly he wasn’t interested in going. He didn’t even accompany her to the reunion. She was incredibly lonely.

    After that I began to realize maybe what I though marriage was often times it wasn’t. I think imagining marriage automatically keeps away the loneliness is just a fantasy; the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, so to speak.

    I think Father has some good suggestions in this article. I’ve done similar things myself, praying such, pouring out my deepest feelings and regrets to Our Lord. How I don’t know, but soon afterwards (a day or two) I feel kind of better, and things don’t look so dark. The bottom line is that regardless of the path you choose in life, ultimately we’re all isolated and alone, and people are not going to be able to fill that void in us that longs for intimacy. But I think God does.
    Try to make a friend somewhere, someone who might share your values. Try finding a friend who might start attending any local ballroom dance lessons and events (I see ads for these in my local Catholic newspaper) with you. I even heard square dancing is a lot of fun. See if you might be able to enjoy attending just for the music and social atmosphere if not for the dance. It’s worth trying.
    God bless you. I’ll pray for you.

  • Emily

    Blobee, I love your faith filled lens. “The bottom line is that regardless of the path you choose in life,
    ultimately we’re all isolated and alone, and people are not going to be
    able to fill that void in us that longs for intimacy. But I think God
    does.” So many people are disillusioned in their marriages because they think marriage is the answer when really God is the answer. Please look at http://www.conversationwithwomen.org and prayerfully considering developing your comment into a story so that our reader’s can learn from you.

  • Michael J. Lichens

    I hear you Lisa. We have published a few pieces to encourage older single folks. I’m not middle-aged yet, but I am an older, single man and know that the loneliness can be suffocating. I can’t fully identify, so I won’t offer advice, but I do want to say how much I appreciate your insight and comments.

    I have very little doubt that you are probably a blessing to those around you in that you remain faithful and committed to Christ, even if you are dealing with a lot of frustrations. I know I’m deeply impressed.

    Comments like yours also help folks like me when trying to find others who can write about these subjects. We’ll do our best, on our end, to find the spiritual works that can be of help.

  • Lisa

    Blobee, I understand your comments. In a practical way, marriage is about “being there for each other” and children are of course a blessing. I work as a nurse and over and over again I have seen the people of my generation in the hospital ALONE without anyone except me (and I had barely time to spend with each of the patients I was given on a 12 hours shift where even the chaplains are overburdened and have a time frame). There is either no spouse or a spouse, and no children. Or if there are children they are absent because they have “careers” and live for off. I understand the comments of the young women who are still available to have marriage and children. They are not facing the crisis of being completely ALONE yet… I thought for years, well, I still have time. BUT what no one is talking about is that you don’t. At least if one had the husband you described they can make sure you aren’t alone in the hospital. This country is in such a denial about loneliness and being alone. The younger people I think would be wise to turn back to more traditional roles. I think my generation was sold a bill of goods… jobs and careers will not be there for you while you are laying lonely in a hospital bed. I understand the idea that we all face “being alone” that in the end it is between us and God… but God did not intend for us to live our lives alone and lonely. We have developed that in this culture. As a single woman I will never fit in with the marrieds. A married woman does not want a single woman in her home, of any age. Married women want my company so that they can complain about their lot in life. I don’t say much. They have no clue what it is like. For example, when I was sick and had to have surgery, I had to “line up” friends to come help me. My married girlfriends with husbands and children, had help that was built into the system of their lives, their vocations as wives and mothers. I have no vocation. All of the jobs and career things I have done really have meant nothing. In the end, it will not be your boss or coworkers who come to your aid. It will be family. And if you don’t have family, God help you! I have seen people my age, drive themselves home from the hospital when they were well enough to leave. I guess what I would say, is where are the deep answers to deep questions of this time? It’s one thing to speak to a group of women who are 25 and still have time to marry and have children — it’s another to speak to those of us, who bought the bill of goods and face lonely, very lonely days now and ahead. It’s really the elephant in the room for so many people I know… but no one seems to have any answers for it, except pat religious phrases…if I hear one more time “God will not give you more than you can handle” I feel like I will scream. Especially when you hear it from younger people who have no idea what they are saying. I think that I have probably given an “ear full.” Please don’t criticize in your comments — just listen and see where you stand. If you are still standing on the brink of “having it all” in this culture of materialism and death, even if you are “religious” or “spiritual” then just criticize that I am a middleaged bitter women. BUT if you really have something to say, something deeper than the pat answers, I would love to hear it.

  • Blobee

    Are you kidding me? Far from criticizing you, I am right in the same trench with you! Didn’t you get that I am 59, female, never married and have no kids? I am facing the same exact situation. I have felt EXACTLY like you. You articulated so much of how I feel, so well, it was as if I had written the post!

    A few years back I had to drive myself to the doctor then the hospital to have emergency surgery (alone) to fix a broken ankle—no one, not one of my brothers or sisters in law, even the stay at home mom, was willing to help me. They groaned when I asked one of them to drive another one to pick me up when I was released because I was on pain killers and couldn’t drive myself, and my car was at the hospital. I thought, geez, next time I’ll take a cab. Then I had to struggle by myself at home just to get around. I wasn’t allowed to put weight on my leg for 6 weeks. I didn’t know about those leg “walkers” for foot surgeries, so I struggled with crutches, and fell a couple of times.

    I so hear what you are saying. I so feel that same exact way sometimes. My heart panics in fear when I imagine my 70′s or 80′s. There is nobody. No safety net.

    And I so think you are right, our generation was handed a bill of goods. And pat religious phrases do NOT satisfy or give us a sense of security. Please don’t take offense, simply because I expressed myself so poorly. I do really get it.

    So what are we looking at? Assisted living at the age of 65? I don’t know what else to suggest except to try to make some friends that can mutually assist. I know you feel like despairing. So do I sometimes. But you must be young enough yet to try to see if you can do something about it, even if it’s only brainstorming with others who also see the problem. And what if you can be a person to raise awareness of this problem, and see if there is something (maybe through the Catholic Church) that somehow this can be mitigated. I don’t know what to say about the disappointment regarding lack of family. I know what you mean.
    Okay, so I have prayed about this. A. LOT. And I finally came to the conclusion that God is going to take care of this for me; that He is going to show me a way. I trust in this. I can’t say this is going to satisfy you or work for you. But that’s what I did. So far I can still take care of myself okay, and I’m pretty healthy. What will happen in the future I don’t know.
    I get about the sick or dying alone in the hospital. About a year ago I went to the cemetery to visit my grandparents’ graves, and there was a fresh grave next to my grandfather. I questioned at the office who was buried there, and it was my unmarried childless uncle! You cannot believe how brokenhearted I was. I tried numerous times to let him know if he ever needed anything please to call me. He had had a falling out with my father, and also another sister of his, so he was not exactly welcoming of my offers. He had 14 nieces and nephews within driving distance, but he did not put on his hospital information to contact anyone in his family. So, he died alone in the hospital. I was 20 minutes away by car. I would have gone in the middle of the night if I had known. I spoke to him 6 months before he died, and he just dismissed me as if my phone call was bothering him. I feared he thought I was a vulture and just being nice to take advantage of him.
    I have begged my single cousins to not do this. When I called around I made sure I mentioned that they must call me if something goes wrong and they need help. I have told them to make sure nieces and nephews know of their plight. Is that ideal? No. I see the problem. I see what you are saying. I get it. I really do.
    So take time to articulate the problem, but at the end of the day, look for possible solutions in your own life, and for society. Hopefully God will help us.
    I’ll pray you get a miracle and someone who will be there for you. God bless you.

  • Riki

    ELI ELI LAMA SABACHTANI

    Eli Eli
    lama sabachtani !
    Is that what you think, My child ?
    calm down, trust Me, don’t be riled
    I am always at your side,
    don’t forget, also for you I died.
    The world makes a lot of noise
    those who don’t follow, it gladly destroys.
    I work in silence to open the doors
    I will provide you the perfect oars
    to steer your boat in My direction
    which will request a lot of circumspection.
    For you I don’t set exorbitant expectations
    nor turn away when I see your frustrations
    I never promised you life would be easy
    more often than not it can be very cheesy.
    Stay with Me, My child, don’t ever leave Me
    I hold you tight each time you want to flee
    you are so much Mine, I need you, I need you
    when it’s difficult I pull you through.
    I promised you the victory
    which presently might seem contradictory
    but know My child that GOD NEVER LIES
    the way I will act will be a surprise.
    Come rest at My Heart while My Love is mounting
    and every hair on your head I have been counting.
    Walk in My footsteps it’s your only security
    to continue your life in innocence and purity.
    This world is heading for total destruction
    ’cause it surrendered to the evil one’s seduction.
    Offer Me all your doubts and hardships
    and I will turn them into Divine Worships.
    I wait for you, My daughter
    to refresh your soul with My Salvation Water.

    Your Jesus, Your Lord and Savior who loves you more than you can imagine.
    Rita Biesemans June 17th 2013

  • Riki

    MOURNING AND WEEPING IN THIS VALLEY OF TEARS

    I could swim in the tears I shed

    but the thing is : I can’t swim

    I will soon float on my waterbed

    for my cup is filling to the brim

    Didn’t you say : you would follow Me

    on the Way to the Cross

    that was planted on Calvary

    don’t look at it as being dross

    This is the best investment

    you could ever have made

    give it a reassessment

    and all your sorrows will fade

    I know all too well deep in my heart

    that nothing happens without Your consent

    sometimes though it can be very tart

    and You, went through it till the end

    Daughter, take up your cross after Me

    and keep walking in My Footsteps

    that’s how you will win the Grand Prix

    without driving any extra laps.

    Always keep your handkerchiefs or tissues handy

    Rita Biesemans, December 13 2013

  • Riki

    IN T H E S I L E N C E

    In the silence of my heart

    I come to love You

    Oh My Lord

    To praise and worship You

    My Master and My Savior

    No words are spoken between us

    Only so soft a whisper

    And in my soul

    An outpouring of so much

    Undeserved love and grace

    For

    How often do I desert You

    Thinking You don’t love me

    Forgetting about You

    Oh, how stupid and ungrateful

    Then I am

    For

    Without You I’m nothing

    But a trembling reed

    A creature full of fear

    But,

    Your creature sure I am

    For this immensely grateful

    Oh You, fullness of my soul

    Reason for my existence

    Sole purpose of my life

    Object of my deepest thoughts

    My God and my Almighty

    I will serve You and obey

    Surrender to Your Will divine

    Embrace me with Your burning warmth

    Cradle me in Your Fatherly arms

    Oh, my well-beloved

    Let me borrow from Your Love

    Let Your Mercy shine upon me,

    Your poor and littlest child

    So, that with Your Grace

    I will proclaim

    Your Greatness,

    Your Goodness and

    Your Name

    Through my work and being !!

    Rita Biesemans 7-27-1999

  • Riki

    CONVERSATION WITH JESUS IN THE HOLY TABERNACLE

    I can live without fancy goods

    without flamboyant clothes or foods

    but not without my Jesus, my God, my Lord

    My Master, my Savior, my eternal Reward

    Although You, I don’t deserve

    don’t let me make the swerve

    from the saving, Heavenly route

    I would be lost without a doubt

    I hear You say : I set you apart

    feel the beating of My Heart

    it beats with love for you

    believe it or not, but it is true

    Ask Me everyday for this gift

    for My love for you knows no thrift

    for you I still have so much in store

    but first go close the back door

    I won’t allow you to escape

    from the stage of the great reshape

    once completed I might call you home

    freed from the human pressure dome.

    Thank you, My daughter for visiting Me, for consoling Me in MY loneliness

    Rita Biesemans, December 15 2013

  • Riki

    JESUS AND HIS LITTLE LAMB

    My precious little lamb
    feel the beating of My Heart
    full of love, this ain’t no spam
    I will never let you fall apart

    I love you, My little one, always
    I hold you so close in My arms
    I will never abandon you, no delays
    I ask you don’t push the panic alarms

    I have always been with you
    surrender your emotions to Me
    continue to live in My angle of view
    all will be well, listen to My plea

    Be at peace, My daughter
    I repeat that all IS well
    I’m not asking you to slaughter
    the lamb in you, this idea I do repel

    NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR YOUR GOD
    Rita Biesemans, October 14 2013

  • Riki

    BE A GOOD SAMARITAN

    I heard the Good Shepherd’s invitation
    to be a Good Samaritan
    to the destitute of His Creation
    in this love-deprived Globalistan

    If it is really You, my Lord
    calling me to do this chore
    don’t let it be an inedible gourd
    bring me where You want me, I implore

    I want to love You in the needy
    whom You called me to serve
    so that eyes may be bright and beady
    and all tears may quickly swerve

    I’m ready Lord, just pick me up
    don’t let me wait too long
    to drink the longed for stirrup cup
    just let the big bell bong

    I will give myself completely
    until I no longer can
    and will be waiting discreetly
    for the coming of my Good Samaritan

    Rita Biesemans, January 24 2014

    To be a Good Samaritan : Help others in need without any thought for recognition or reward for yourself, for Heaven will be your reward.

    Luke 10 : 25-37

  • Lisa

    Dearest Blobee,
    I know that you do indeed get it! You are living it! And you must be very strong and devout! I am sorry to hear about your uncle… unfortunately I have seen this played out in the hospital over and over. One day I was helping with someone who had died, an elderly man… he was all alone. I looked at the only other Catholic nurse on the floor (she’s Irish) and I said promise me that if I ever end up here like this, you will make sure that a priest comes. That is another issue with being alone. I live in a city/ state where being Catholic is the minority and sometimes people who are not Catholic don’t understand how important a priest is.
    I wanted to say to you that you express yourself very well! I think that this is such an emotional issue — I want to reach out and be understood, but I feel like many times people just want to pat me on the head and say things like “have you tried dating?” They just don’t get it… it’s not about getting married NOW…. it’s about surviving. I think that you make some great points and I agree with you… there’s got to be something to do beyond just complaining or brooding or just returning to this same thing over and over again. I know the Saints and Good Angels are on our side! And yes, trusting God is paramount in this world, no matter what age we are! I cannot live this life over again… I can only start from this moment and be a “beginner” as St. Anthony of Padua said. I think praying is probably the most important thing I can do. There’s an elderly man who comes to Mass at my church and he is all stooped over and yet he comes and he kneels when he can… he “shows up” for our Lord in the Tabernacle… I know that is the most important thing. It all can be, as you said, a fearful thing… to think ahead and wonder what will happen to us. We are living in a time where every one is so connected to their I-phones and computers and etc. that all we do is “communicate” but almost everyone I know has some sense of loneliness. I live in what some would think of as a somewhat smallish southern city and even here, where usually people have been known for a certain amount of warmth, everyone is on their cell phone. Where’s it all headed? I know that we cannot solve this overnight… but I do want to say that you are one of the first people who has ever spoken your truth to me in this way… usually in life and virtual message life, people are very unwilling to speak this truth. Thank you! I don’t know if Fr. Broom knew what a firestorm could be started by his article… may the Saints and Good Angels watch over you!

  • Lisa

    Dear Michael,
    Thank you for your response… you will see that Blobee and I have continued our conversation. This indeed has been a bit of a firestorm for me at least. I spent most of my life chasing after career goals, most of which never manifested. I deeply deeply regret passing up marriage offers and not having children. I hope that you will work on getting married… it is much easier for an older man to find a mate than an older woman to… sorry just have to speak it as I see it. Much of my response is from working in a hospital and seeing “the rubber hit the road.” There are people very much alone and I have got to tell you that the nurses and staff cannot furnish the loving kindness that is needed. We are more like technicians now and on a very tight schedule.
    The most blessed people are those who have at least a couple of sons and daughters… who are present for their parents and understand that no one should be alone in the hospital. They also share the load with each other.
    I have no answers. I have a stiff upper lip about things, but obviously this article by Fr. Broom hit a sore spot with me. I have never seen as many anxious people as I do now in my personal life and in my work life. Many of them are older and many are young — in their 20s… Very anxious, very lonely, very confused. I don’t know if anyone has mentioned the suicide rates seen now in older people. I think Our Blessed Pope Francis understands what is happening… he is begging us practically to stop being so materialistic! There’s a reason in other centuries you heard elderly people say things like “my children to comfort me in my old age” because it is needed! i think this society is delusional in its “independence.” OK, I’ve said enough. Thanks for letting me be part of the conversation! May God Bless you and Our Blessed Mother intercede for you in all your temporal and spiritual needs!

  • Maria

    I’m unmarried and alone. I had many opportunities to marry and did marry. I never should have gone ahead with the wedding; the marriage was annulled and I have never been interested in marriage since.

    I learned three things:

    (1) There is no greater loneliness than the loneliness of being in a deeply flawed, unhappy marriage.

    (2) Loneliness can’t always be avoided; I look for ways to ameliorate it. I’m lucky: I live in a big city with lots to do. Even so, sometimes I’m lonely for the company of people who share my values. I have found such people via political activism and activism within the church, especially pro-life work. Still, there are times when holidays loom, Christmas included, and I’m…alone. I try to offer it up, reminding myself of Christ’s painful loneliness in the garden as he prayed…alone. Sooooo alone.

    (3) Plan for the future. I’m 68 and I’ve already lost many of my friends and recognize that it makes sense to grow and strengthen my friendships with younger women and men. And, yes, I have male friends. Many of them and almost all of them younger than me. I just came home from having dinner with a 50 y/o male friend, whom I relish. A 63 y/o male friend of almost four decades will be in town staying with me over the Memorial Day holiday. Don’t think I’m not thrilled to have the company!

    There is something else that I try to do: Keep in touch with nieces and nephews. It’s easier with some than with others. I suspect that some day I’m going to need them and want to build the relationships now while they still think of me as kind of a neato, off-beat auntie type. Unfortunately, because of geographical distance (like the whole continent is between almost all of us!), I rarely see them. But then, now we know why God invented the Internet and e-mail, don’t we!

    I hope this helps.

  • Lisa

    Dear Maria,
    Thanks for your comments. I have spent Christmas alone for the last twenty years. I never have a tree. This year a Protestant family invited me to their home for Christmas Eve dinner although I told them I would have to leave at 10:30 to get to Midnight Mass in time. They were worried about me being out at night… they had no clue what Midnight Mass means to me. I went by my apartment on the way, and ended up staying home. I cried my eyes out because it – Midnight Mass- is so important to me. I went to Mass the next day which was fine, but I couldn’t help but feel that I had let myself be “cheated” out of something so important because I felt like, yes, it is ridiculous for you, a middleaged woman to be driving to the “hood” (our church is in a crime ridden part of town) for Midnight Mass. These are the things… without a husband and family… I am the odd person out. No one really cares… and in many years… that will be even more evident. I actually have siblings (they all live far away and only one of them is Catholic) and I have a ton of friends… but I really am an anomaly. My friends have dinner with me and share a lot of their lives, but in the end, it will be their family that they are with on Christmas and holidays. I see some of the members of our church who didn’t fall for the career trap. The women have children and grandchildren. There is an atmosphere of family that I will never have in this life. I think there is an unspoken understanding that I am on the edges of their society and must accept my lot in life.
    And as I said in my other post, I get pulled in as the “listening ear” for married people and the “advisor” for younger. That’s all fine and good, but it’s really the role of a “maiden aunt” as they used to say. Just I didn’t know that would be my fate… they don’t call it that now. There’s not a name for this. I really don’t belong anywhere. It’s awful to have to face that truth.
    My secular friends think I am “religious” — the people I go to church with probably think I am not “religious” enough. I’ve worked and worked my whole life, but I have nothing to show for it… not even a small house with pleasurable things like a garden or a garage. I park on the street (guess who gets to get all the ice and snow off the car?). I will be working way past retirement age because I have never made enough money to put away for retirement even though I thought I was going to have some brilliant career. Urgh… not sure where this all going. Of course it feels like a pity party. And it is. I have had to look these things full in the face. Hopefully I will learn not to flinch! Thanks for your ideas.

  • Blobee

    Lisa,

    I know this is trite and may be exactly the kind of cliche you hate, but did you ever hear, “It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”? I’m sure you’ve heard it. If you think about that phrase in light of this problem, you can see there is a lot of darkness to talk about (I think you have only scratched the surface to tell the truth) and yet, isn’t our God a God of hope? While I was thinking some about what you have said in your posts, I was thinking about Our Lady. I was thinking about how our Catholic faith is always talking about her trust in God; her full and complete trust in God. Her great faith. You know the drill: she was told as a young unmarried woman she would become pregnant and bear a child, and “she did not know man.” Now, that in itself might suggest a world of fearsome problems. She was told a sword would pierce her heart so the thoughts of many would be revealed. That means grave suffering to her very soul; heartbreak. I have sometimes imagined how she felt when Jesus was condemned to death. Her beautiful, holy, faultless Son, tortured and dying like a criminal. What her human mind could have fallen into! Joseph was dead. She would be alone. Her only son’s death, would be a death sentence for her too, because she had no means of support. But. She had faith. She did not fear. She trusted in God before she knew God’s plan for her; God’s plan to protect her, to help her, to watch over her. He gave her to John, and John to her. She accepted that as His care for her.

    God has a plan for you too. Really. You can trust Him. You are not going to be thrown to the dogs to suffer. You say things are really tight, you’ll have to work a long time yet, you don’t own a home and your holiday’s are the worst. So light one little candle. Why not have Jesus over for Memorial Day? I mean, why not ask Him to spend the whole day with you, and ask Him to suggest to you where you two should go. Maybe He would like to go to a parade with you. Maybe He would like you to buy a little flag to wave it. Maybe He would like to attend Mass a the local cemetery that day. Maybe He’d like a barbeque with you.

    What I am actually saying is to do a little of what Father suggests in the article above. Just talk to Jesus as if He’s just spending the whole day with you, like a friend would. Imagine yourself together with Him. Imagine talking about things, “You know Jesus, that man who was my patient with the heart problem? I was so worried for him. I don’t think he’s going to get better.” Or whatever. Real things. And “pretend” He’s really there listening to you, and speaking back a response. All day. All day.

    Anyway, this is something I used to do a lot when I was a teenager walking home from school (about 3 miles). I was bored and so I would imagine Jesus and I were walking along and I was chattering away at Him, and then I would pretend He would respond and sometimes give me advice. Mostly I would speak in my head, not out loud. But sometimes I did feel compelled to actually speak out loud. I honestly have to tell you, I usually felt so good when I got home, I would look forward to my walks home with Jesus.

    I sometimes still do this, when I’m driving, or in church, but I feel as if He is much more present to me now, and I don’t feel as if I should use English words much anymore. But if I have a problem I can’t seem to get my head around, I resort to this. Sometimes when I am very sad, I see Him in my mind’s eye, sitting on a stone or bench, and I am sitting on the ground next to Him (in my imagination) and I just lay my head in His lap, and He strokes my hair. That comforts me.

    Jesus is very real to me. I am such a sinner that I can see, without Him, I would be hopelessly lost. Inclinations that arise out of me are not holy. But His presence with me (along with my Guardian Angel) helps me keep going and staying on the straight and narrow path. I don’t know what He has in store for me. I pray He will bless my future, and help me find the safe place He wants me to be.

    I will pray for all the people you see, Lisa, who are in such dire straights in the hospital, facing illness alone. That is bad. I wish had we tons of people in religious orders whose mission is was, like in the olden days, to care for the sick and attend to them with prayers and spiritual comfort. Maybe God is prompting you to pray for that too. “Oh, Lord, send ministers to the sick and dying who have no one to comfort them in their afflictions. Raise up compassionate women and men whose mission in life is to care for the needs of the ill. Fill them with your Holy Spirit. And give those who are ill solace and peace. ”

    God bless you, Lisa. God bless you.

  • Lisa

    Dear Blobee,
    Thanks for your thoughtful comments. Yes, we are not alone and as Father Broom said, we have hope. I have not doubts that Jesus, OBV Mary and St. Joseph and all the Saints and Good Angels walk with us and watch over us and intercede for us. I pour out my heart before the Blessed Sacrament. Many of these things that cause anxiety will not be important at the final hour. What will be important is a perserverance in the Faith and more ardent prayers. And yes, it is important to pray for the sick and dying… they need our prayers. In the hospital, it came home to me as a nurse, that here are the sick, surrounded by the best of everything, a private room (sometimes), a flat-screened TV, dieticians taking care of their food needs, doctors who round, nurses who come in to give medicines etc., chaplains who can come for a brief amount of time. They are a patient in one of the world’s best healthcare systems (I say this in spite of what we read in the media) and one of the best trained healthcare teams in the world… and yet they are alone and very lonely. Why because most of them were on the “track”… the train that said, if you get on board this work train, that will be the most fulfilling ride of your life. Men distanced from their children because they were workaholics, now this is the same story for women as well if they could be bothered to have children. I don’t know why it isn’t talked about more in this society. We seem to talk about everything and we have an opinion about everything. I do walk with Jesus and Mary and St. Joseph (always helpful to single women!), but I cannot deny what is happening out there. Father Broom article was provocative for us who suffer in silence and observe a society that has lost it’s center, but as you said, he also provided some answers. I close my comments now and say yes, God Bless You… and Maria too… There is a lot to be said for addressing the problem by turning it over to God! My best, Lisa

  • depressed4ever

    Good article. I’m married with three children, and I feel crushing loneliness all the time. I’ve been depressed all my life. I never had a good mother figure, and I don’t know how to be a good mother. I converted to Catholicism, I pray, I go to confession every week, I read the Bible and spiritual books, I am going to therapy, I started medicine… nothing is working. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.

  • Michael J. Lichens

    I’m not 100% sure of your situation, but it sounds like you are doing all that you can to get yourself help, which is really really hard. It’s a sign that you know yourself and care enough to try to help yourself so you can be there for your kids. May not sound like much, but from my view that is really amazing. If you can, try to take comfort in that. In the midst of depression it’s the small victories that see you through the day.

    Again, I’m not sure so do pardon me if you’ve heard this before, but do give it time. It took me several years to learn to deal with my own depression and every day is a constant battle. It’s a painful, and quite lonely cross to bear. You very much impress me.

    For what it’s worth, I will keep you in my prayers. Keep doing what you’re doing and seek more help if you need it.

  • syd

    You are right. I do need to give it more time. I started seriously trying to heal only last year; I guess I’m just having another one of those days where I just want it over with already. :) Thanks so much for your encouragement and prayers. Even a little bit means a lot, more than you can know. God bless you.

  • Michael J. Lichens

    I hear you. Believe me, there are days where little things like getting out of bed and going to the store seems like a heroic effort. Getting dressed is just an added bonus :).

    I remember a very holy Russian priest telling me that on his melancholic days he often prayed, “If this is to make me a saint, you can have it back and I’ll settle for an okay guy.” He was the first to try to encourage me and I still have far to go.

    Best of luck!

  • Wendy M

    Just what I needed to read today. Thank you for this article!

  • fderf

    There is yet another answer: others, pay attention! Notice others and you will notice a lonely person. Look outside yourself and you will see that desolate person next door or in your own family or sitting on the pew beside you. That is all it takes. Is it really entirely up to the person suffering to cure his own desolation? It is our duty to comfort those around us. It’s called love.

  • Marion (Mael Muire)

    Rather late to this thread:

    My grandmother’s prayer all her adult life was that “on that day, O Lord, when my strength to put in a full day’s work is forever behind me, that Thou wouldst take me (home). But Thy will be done.” When she was an active woman in her late 60s my grandmother suddenly fell ill, was admitted to the hospital, seemed to be getting better, then took a sudden turn for the worse and shortly thereafter, she died peacefully. The interval from the onset of the illness to her death was about two and a half months, and the entire family agreed that the good Lord heard my grandmother’s prayer and after only a short delay, granted it.

    God’s ways are best. He knows what He’s doing. Every moment, every joy, every sorrow, every struggle in our lives, He has known and foreseen from all eternity. And every one of these He has ordained and worked together for one ultimate purpose – that of our eternal happiness with Him in Heaven.

    Saint Teresa of Avila asked the Lord why she fell ill so often. The reply she heard was that if she were more faithful to her exercises of prayer and penance, He would not have to send her frequent illnesses. The illnesses were, it seemed, a way of turning her attention from everyday matters to Heavenly ones.The saint returned to applying herself to prayer with assiduity, and her health returned.

    Please approach the Lord with all your necessities, your fears about the future, your concerns about the present. He will help you mightily until the day He embraces you in Heaven.

  • Christine

    Lisa and Blobee, you are both angels and undoubtedly your lives will continue to flourish with blessings! You are both in my prayers and please know that you are both so inspiring! Lisa, among the many ways you inspired me, you spurred me to reach out to a local hospital in my area and volunteer weekly, spending meaningful time with patients who are alone. Blobee, I’m single as well, and while I deeply yearn to get married and have a family, you have reinforced the courage and joy within me, to embrace my beautiful life, living it fully, and ever hopeful, that if it is God’s will, he will grant me a wonderful husband and family. I love your outlook on life! Undoubtedly, both of you have inspired many throughout your life and will continue to do so. Lisa, your honesty, vulnerability, noble heart that cares for the sick, is beautiful and truly depicts your valiance and huge heart that you have!

    My life has been filled with so many blessings; however, my upbringing was incredibly lonely. My father left before I was born and left my mother to care for my grandmother, who was paralyzed due to a stroke, and I on her own. I’ve only met my father twice and the last time I saw him, was 25 years ago, at the age of 5. Both my mother and grandmother emigrated here from Colombia, so I grew up with no other family. My mother never dated or remarried. As an only child I yearned for siblings or cousins; nevertheless, God always filled the void with his love and is the BEST father!! I was also very blessed to be raised by two incredibly strong women, with incredible faith in God! My grandmother, despite her paralysis and being confined to a wheelchair for 30 years, lived an overjoyed life, showering my life with love and endless support! While I witnessed her struggles, inability to use her left side, having to be at the mercy of someone to bathe her or take her somewhere, she never complained and devoted her life to praying and truly becoming the other parent I lacked. She is my angel and truly my hero. She passed away 8 years ago; however, I feel her presence with me every second of the day. She is inherently imbedded in my heart. My mother’s selflessly devoted to my grandmother and I. She lovingly sacrificed herself to care for us, taking jobs that were arduous and at times socially demanding, like cleaning houses; however, they were honorable and she did them with great integrity. I love them both, more than I could ever articulate and truly indebted to God for blessing me with such loving and wonderful parents!

    While I had a unique and amazing family, comprised of my mom and grandmother, all we had was one another. I have always yearned for a family and the yearning has only grown. I am 30 now and have dated, but given the circumstances, my focus for a long time was on completing school, while simultaneously working, and advancing my socioeconomic position in life, for my family and I. While I deeply yearn for a wonderful husband, life partner, and family to further God’s will and purpose for my life, I completely surrender to His will and fully trust and embrace His plan for my life, whether I remain single or become a wife and mother. Ultimately, my eyes are set on God, in turn living each day fully, as an instrument of his love and grace, actively extending love and compassion to all I encounter. Challenges abound; however, each challenge draws me closer to God and reinforces how much He loves me! The adversity and challenges truly have made me much stronger, wiser and more compassionate. My mother is now 72, healthy, and devoted to her art. She is a very talented painter and continuously takes art classes, at a local college to hone her craft; nevertheless, she continuously feels an incredible sense of loneliness, which is difficult for me to witness, especially because I do all I can to uplift her and struggle with loneliness myself. I visit her weekly and we talk on the phone multiple times a day. We all have a cross to carry; however, my cross always becomes lighter, when I focus and actively lighten the cross of others, extending grace, my hands, support, and my love. My mother and I are both very blessed and grateful for our crosses! :) God has always cared for all of us and will continue to do so! Lisa and Blobee, you will both forever be in my prayers and have a special place in my heart. Thank you for sharing your stories and inspiring me! May God forever bless each of you and fill your lives with lots of love, joy and MANY more blessings, in Jesus name I pray, amen!

    Love,
    Christine

    I would like to share this prayer that I found online to all single women:

    Father in the name of Jesus Christ, I come boldly before Your throne of grace confessing Your Word over my life as a single Christian.

    I pray that You would help me to live a Godly life as a single Christian – a life that is holy, sanctified and set aside for the Master’s use, and prepared for Your good work.

    I confess Your word, that as a single Christian, my life is crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet it’s not I that live, but it’s Christ that lives in and through me; and the life which I now live in the flesh as a single Christian, I live it by faith, power and strength of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.

    Father, You said that You would not leave us alone, but You promised to send us the Comforter. I pray therefore, that You would fellowship with me daily through the Comforter of the Holy Spirit.

    I pray that while I am single, may You be the One to whom I am married. Lord, when I get lonely, may You, through the Holy Spirit, be the One who comforts my heart. May You be unto me as a close friend that sticks closer than any brother. When I need someone to talk to, may I also find comfort, as well as pleasure in talking to You. And as I talk to You, may You speak continually back to my heart, and may You be my daily companion who keeps me company, as You walk with me each and everyday.

    I pray that You would give me Godly friends and acquaintances that will be an encouragement to me to live for, love and serve You with all of my heart, soul, strength, and might. And, keep me away from those who would draw my heart away from You and draw me into idleness, worldliness, carnalness or ungodly situations or relationships.

    Your Word says that You are able to keep me from falling and present me faultless with exceeding great joy. I pray, therefore, that You would help me to keep watch of the eveil one in my life. Father, as a single Christian, help me not to be drawn or lured into sexual temptation, and keep me from falling into fornication, adultery or any other sexual sin, immorality or perversion.

    By the power and strength of the Holy Spirit, I pray that You would also keep me from each and every satanic spirit of seduction. May You help me to flee youthful lust, keep me from compromising situations, and help me to avoide the very appearance of evil.

    Father, help me to not allow the devil to confom my mind to see the single Christian life as one that is broing, incomplete or unfulfilling. I pray that through Christ Jesus, You help me to see my life as joyous, exciting and fully complete. I pray that You would fill every empty and lonely place of my heart with excitement in You and Your work. And may You always be the center of my joy, as You strengthen and renew my heart in You each and every day.

    I pray that You would help me to be continually occupied doing Your work and Your will. Help me not to allow my mind to be consumed with the desire or want for a mate, but rather, consumed with You, Your Word, doing Your will, and pleasing You. And help me to keep my eyes, as well as my heart and mind stayed upon You.

    Now Father, i thank You that my heart safely rests in You, Your provisions and Your loving arms of care. And may You continually be all of my fulfillment, my desire and completeness. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray, AMEN.

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