When I went through the certification training to teach the Grief Recovery Method, I had a personal moment of enlightenment.  I discovered that living with loss forced me into isolation.  And with each successive loss in my life, isolation become more and more my modus operandi, my way of living life.

I thought I was so clever to analyze the patterns of loss and come up with that revelation, until the instructor pointed out that he had written that on the white board for us during the very first day of class.  His comment had gone right over my head, until I stumbled across it by accident while doing my homework.

I didn’t come up with that on my own, but I did live it for decades without realizing it.  Now I hear people in my groups come to the same clarity of understanding.  Isolation is the most common trait of grieving people.  Why?  Because grieving people make us uncomfortable so we tell them to get over it, to move on, to get busy, to get a life, to get over it.  It doesn’t matter if the griever is dealing with death, divorce, or any of the other seventy-two losses we have on our list, people don’t want to hear it.  It makes them uncomfortable to see how close their lives are to that kind of pain.

So grievers end up shunned by society, pushed away by their co-workers who need them to be normal and pulling their weight, ignored by all the people who are busy getting on with things.  They learn to live a life of “less than” the way they were before their loss.

What I also learned in my Grief Recovery training is that there are ways of breaking out of isolation.  We can   see this trait in ourselves and change how we respond to loss and life.

Have you ever felt isolated?  Can you trace that feeling back to a loss in your life?




7 Replies to “Isolation”

  1. Hello Chris, This post is an eye-opener for me. Reading this post made me realize that I too had my share of isolation – I moved away from people because they either started telling me to move on or behaved differently when I was around. I was already in pain and I did not want people to hurt me more (by saying hurtful things). Finally, I felt that I was all alone with nobody to understand me. Now that I have realized it, I will incorporate small changes so that I will never feel alone again.
    Thank you Chris for this wonderful post. 🙂


  2. Yes I felt that way after my Mom died in 1998. All the people who were around for the wake and funeral must return to their lives. I was devastated when my Aunt Helen Mom’s sister had to return to Dayton, Ohio. However my Dad’s sister also named Helen really stood in the gap for me. I often stayed at her house, helped her with shopping, went to her church. All things I badly needed. She never tried to replace my Mom but she was like a Mother to me until she passed away in May 2010.
    I’ve been through many deaths of family and friends. And it’s true that everyone wants you to get back to normal. Folks like Happy Stories.
    In my case I just put a smile on my face and went back to work. Rent, bills and real life step in so at some point you must pull yourself together. Otherwise you’ll be broke and homeless.
    I think the fact that I was earning my BA in English Literature when my mother died along with returning to work forced me to focus. Of course even after twenty years I still miss my parents and am depressed on Mother’s and Fathers day.


  3. My husband died five days before Christmas. It was then that I knew I could either retreat into isolation or go to family and friend’s holiday celebrations. I’ve read that the most important thing, the bravest thing, is to just show up. So I did go out, gritting my teeth. I have retreated into isolation though, I think this is an important piece of grieving, in order to look it in the eyes and face it, process it, work through it. Still, two and a half years later, I spend time in isolation, and more time getting out into living.


  4. Definitely this is true. When I lost my twins during pregnancy in 2013 I lost friends and especially my best friend. She came back for a while the following year, but when I lost our much wanted and loved son in 2016 I also lost my best friend again. She didn’t come back this time, I’ve reached out to her so many times, but there’s nothing in return, just a cold politeness in her conversation. There was never a fall out or an argument, just the day I lost our baby boy she walked out of my life and never looked back.
    It’s hard, I find myself now with no special friend, I know a lot of people and I believe a lot of people like me but I have no “friends”.
    Loss is loneliness.
    Grief takes away and never pays you back.


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