Have you ever felt alone in a room full of people? That's what I'm feeling because I'm the only friend grieving a parent.
As a kid, I thought that loneliness was something you felt during weekends you spent alone. When all of your friends were busy, and it was just you waiting for school on Monday, only talking to the people you live with.
By that definition, I’m not lonely. Even though I’m physically isolated, I’m not socially isolated. I wrote the first draft of this article after getting off of a call with one of my closest friends, and I’m casually texting someone as I work on this rewrite.
So… why do I feel lonely?
The concept of feeling alone in a room full of people was foreign to me as a kid. How someone could be lonely while they were with other people made no sense to me.
The first time I felt lonely while surrounded by people was around middle school. I was starting to have struggles that the average kid didn’t go through, and many of my friends couldn’t relate to me. As time passed, I found people who understood, though, and it was mostly okay.
Interestingly enough, I didn’t feel lonely when my dad was sick. I think it was because, in my head, I told myself that he wasn’t that sick, and he would be okay.
Upon Dad dying, though, the loneliness I felt was 10x what I had experienced in the past.
I never missed a full day of school after he died, choosing to go back to school right away. I’d sleep in most mornings, and then attend a few classes in the afternoon.
My classmates and teachers were amazing at that time. So many people stepped up and were there for me, including many that I had never expected to care that much.
Even though I was supported by my peers, their lives hadn’t been changed forever - only mine had been. They still were worried about “normal” teenage things: who had a crush on who, who failed a test, and if the football team would win the game (spoiler: they never did).
I, meanwhile, was stuck. When I came to school every day, these “normal” teenager things weren’t even on my mind. I no longer cared who had a crush on who, who failed a test, and if the football team would win the game. My life as I had known it was crashing down in front of me, and I was spending all of my time trying to figure out how to piece it back together.
Since then, I’ve felt this loneliness on and off, usually corresponding with how much I’m struggling with grief. When I feel okay, I often don’t feel lonely, but when I’m struggling, it’s like I’m the only one in a full room.
Recently, I’ve been feeling sort of lonely.
Unlike at the beginning of my grief, this loneliness isn’t due to having my life fall apart while everyone else’s is okay. Yes, grief still is hard, but I’m feeling fine right now. The loneliness I’m experiencing now is due to being the only one of my friends who has lost a parent.
I know about two or three people my age who have lost a parent, but I’m not friends with any of them. While a few of my friends have felt grief, theirs has been different than mine, and none of them have lost a parent.
It’s really lonely, being the only one who has a dead parent. While I can talk to my friends about most of the things I feel, I always wish I had someone who was actually going through it too, and not just nodding along to whatever I said.
While I don’t have a perfect solution to this, lately I’ve found myself reading a lot of articles online written by people who have lost a parent. It’s actually been really comforting, even though I’ve never met any of the people whose stories I read.
If you’re struggling with loneliness, I recommend you look online for stories written by people who have lost someone similar. Personally, I enjoy reading The Grief Reality, which is written by two sisters who lost their mom two years ago, but also has stories written by people who have experienced other types of loss.
Until I meet someone who has also lost a parent, I’ll be spending a lot of my “lonely time” reading stories online.
How about you? How do you deal with loneliness? Tweet me @teengriefsucks and let me know.
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Written by Natalie Adams, the creator of Teenage Grief Sucks.