Grief and Loneliness
Although grief isn’t an illness, the loneliness it can cause can lead to mental ill health
This Mental Health Awareness Week, the theme has been loneliness. Although grief isn’t an illness, the loneliness it can cause can lead to mental ill health.
Loneliness for grievers can be two-fold: loneliness due to feeling you can’t talk openly about your feelings, and loneliness because a person you had a relationship with is no longer there.
Many of us were taught to ‘grieve alone’ from an early age through being told to stop crying, to be strong, or hide our emotions, such as crying or anger by being sent to our bedrooms.
As a consequence, we learned to internalise our feelings, and were also perhaps taught that being happy and positive were more socially acceptable.
Longing for something or someone you don’t have, such as a partner or relative, or a friend you can open up to, a group of people who understand you, etc. can leave you feeling lonely.
Once you start thinking in an “I’m on my own, so I have to look out for myself” kind of way, you may start to guard yourself against others by pushing them away. As you might expect, this only adds to the feelings of loneliness.
You can’t easily resolve loneliness. It takes time and effort. You can’t fill a loved one’s void, or replace your loss. Instead, you have to find other ways to connect and fill in alternative spaces.
Opening up conversations about grief could help you overcome the impact it is having on your wellbeing.
You can hold on to your loved one, while at the same time allowing the support and company of others. And maybe, if necessary, seeking out new people in the process. It won’t be easy, and it won’t be perfect.
Through our social profiles and website,, our community is here to support you on your grief journey. If you need additional support we have a directory of grief professionals offering a wide range of grief services.
For those around someone who is grieving, offering a sense of connection and support can help to reduce feelings of isolation. Just listening without interrupting or comparing your experiences can really help.
Maria Bailey is an Advanced Grief Recovery Specialist based near Torquay, Devon, where she lives with her husband, three children and two dogs. Maria uses the Grief Recovery Method, a short action programme via Zoom, to mainly help people who have lost loved ones to cancer and Covid-19. You can find out more about Maria here.