Grief Brief: Loneliness

Jun 13, 2023 | Resources for Individuals

Yesterday my brother came to dinner, and our topic of conversation drifted to his recent loss. During our conversation, he said he could handle the loneliness but couldn’t handle being without his wife. I thought our conversation would be an excellent introduction to understanding the loneliness imposed by losing a significant loved one.

There is a difference between loneliness and missing someone in particular. A lonely person lacks physical or mental stimulation. Thus, this person feels lonely. In other words, they are alone by lack of social stimulation.

In contrast, a person who is missing someone specifically is more than lonely. Not only do they find themselves without physical or mental stimulation, but they carry the additional pain of emotional isolation. The loss of emotional fulfillment brings on an entirely different level of loneliness. It is a space of total and complete aloneness. This type of aloneness can induce emotional upheaval.

Consider the following examples to demonstrate the difference between these two types of loneliness.

Example One
Suppose you have a general feeling of loneliness. In that case, it helps to do something with a group of friends or to get together with your family. You might go to a party and surround yourself with a lot of interesting people, or you might go to dinner with family members.

Example Two
On the other hand, if you were to do the same thing but could not shake that yearning for someone specific, you are not merely lonely. In this scenario, you are suffering from an emotional deficit. Not only are you lacking social stimulation, but you are lacking emotional stimulation or fulfillment tied to your specific person.


  • Loneliness is frequently expressed by the bereaved, especially those who have lost their spouses.
  • Social loneliness may be curbed through social support.
  • Emotional loneliness, however, is brought on by a broken attachment.
  • With such, a new attachment is the only remedy.
  • Certain survivors are unwilling to form new attachments and thereby endure severe loneliness indefinitely.
  • This behavior is more common among the elderly. (Mourning Lights, 2022)

New attachments can come in various forms. After a while, if one is willing, one might find a new love interest. In cases where the survivor is not interested in a new love interest, they might redirect their attachments to new friendships or more intense relationships with those already within their circle of close friends, family, and associates.

For instance, when I was younger, my grandfather was murdered. My grandmother dedicated herself to her grandchildren. She would visit us for extended periods and be completely engrossed in our lives. She was our champion in all aspects. She was a wonderful grandmother and spread her love evenly between all of her grandchildren.

Both of my grandmothers were utterly dedicated to their grandchildren, sacrificing their interests for ours, joining us for all special occasions, and living for our success and happiness. At times they would reminisce about their past lives with wonderful husbands. Still, they immersed themselves in our lives and were fulfilled until death took them from us.

My brother misses his wife and is having a sad go of it. His grief is evident through his demeanor. His general carefree and fun attitude toward everything is dampened. I pray he will find a new attachment to pull him out of his desolation. If you are suffering the loss of a loved one and are consumed with loneliness and grief, I pray that you will find emotional support and recover as soon as possible.

Grief is a wild beast that desires to suffocate the life right out of us. If we are not proactive, its goals may overtake us. If you are suffering more than you can bear, please reach out to others. There are support groups, clergy members, grief counselors, and licensed therapists who can help. You do not have to suffer this alone. Although you may feel as though no one can understand what you are suffering, others have lost their spouses, children, parents, pets, friends, and associates too. They are willing to be with you and help you through this dark path that you are walking. Reach out, and others will answer your call for help.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a Certified Grief Counselor (GC-C), Funeral Director (FDIC), published author, syndicated columnist, Podcaster, and founder of the “Mikey Joe Children’s Memorial” and Heaven Sent, Corp. I write books, weekly bereavement articles, Podcasts, and Grief BRIEFs related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award.

It is my life’s work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.

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