COVID-19 and Loneliness

My neighborhood seems eerily quiet for a Thursday afternoon. I hear no hum of mowers, none of the usual noise from my neighbor’s workshop, or laughter from the children next door. The normal flow of traffic has trickled to an occasional car. Only my windchimes break the silence. For many of us, life as we once knew it has come to a screeching halt as COVID-19 continues to plague our nation. With limited work, travel, shopping, and even communication with family and friends, this can be an extremely lonely time for us as widows.

Even though we have smart phones and computers and can Facetime, text or call, we may feel isolated and disconnected. Our previously busy lifestyles that included daily interaction with others is no longer possible. Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said, “The impact of social isolation and loneliness on longevity equals that of smoking 15 cigarettes a day and exceeds the risks associated with obesity, excessive Screen Shot 2020-04-02 at 9.51.59 PMalcohol consumption and lack of exercise.” Alarming!

Dr. Caroline Leaf, a communication pathologist and cognitive neuroscientist says, “For individuals facing difficulties in their lives (i.e. everyone), isolation can be lethal. … Supportive relationships allow us to persevere through hard times.”

As widows, we have personal experience with the effects of loneliness and loss of relationship. We don’t need a COVID-19 psychology specialist or counselor to explain to us the symptoms of loneliness. We know what it’s like to walk into an empty house and hear absolute silence. It’s frightening when we first realize we’re alone. Even the sounds of the ice maker seem strange. One time I awakened by what I thought was frightening noises and soon learned it was my growling stomach. All of us as widows have experienced something similar. We have walked through or are learning to deal with all the changes that widowhood brings.

I don’t want to forget some of you who are young widows with children and are the sole breadwinner. Possibly you are without your bi-weekly paycheck and wondering how you will buy groceries. Maybe you’re trying to work from home while three children clamor for your attention or seek help with their online schoolwork.  While others are lonely, you would like to have just one minute of peace. I hear you. But you too may be feeling lonely. No one is there to help you bear your burdens, have an adult conversation, or encourage you by a gentle touch or kiss. Loneliness may be your companion too.

How can we deal with this new normal? How can we help others or show how much we care while practicing social distancing?  These suggestions may not apply to everyone, but possibly one or two can help.

  • Plan your day’s schedule so you feel you’ve accomplished something. (This article was on my list today.)
  • Include extended times for prayer and Bible study.
  • Participate in your church online services and times of devotion.
  • Study what the Bible says about plagues and global pandemics. Here’s a link from Joel Rosenberg, author and speaker:

  • Stay in touch with family and friends through technology.
  • Make a list of people to check on.
  • Include exercise in your daily routine.
  • Plan fun activities with the children, i.e. cookie or candy making, craft projects.
  • Tackle projects you have been putting off.
  • Take a virtual online trip to a vacation spot, museum, or nation. Even the children would like this.
  • Watch a movie together.
  • Start your spring cleaning. (This sounds like too much work.)
  • Access an online course of something you would like to learn.
  • Screen Shot 2020-04-02 at 9.48.48 PMSet aside time for Sabboth rest.

Life is certainly different now, but we can stay in touch and keep our minds active. Isaiah 26:3 has been a significant verse to me since young adulthood: “You (God) keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”