Loneliness and Thanksgiving: Thoughts from a Catholic man

God is the Answer because without Him there is no Hope

Loneliness & Thanksgiving                                                         metro.co.uk.

By Larry Peterson

“Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted
is the most terrible poverty.”
St. Teresa of Calcutta

This will be the third Thanksgiving since my wife passed away, and when you become widowed, there is an inescapable loneliness factor that enters your life. But I have learned that loneliness has no boundaries. It reaches out for everyone and captures many of the unsuspecting, including those who are seemingly happy, contented, and successful, dragging them into a world of hidden misery and often depression.

However, many who have experienced loss manage to bounce back and find contentment, peace, and even love again. Others cannot—why is that? The common denominator seems to be that those people who have God in their lives were never alone at all. Those who do not—remain alone. The first consequence of rejecting God is the loss of Hope.  They have allowed Hope to be erased from their spirit.

The results of losing Hope are devastating. In fact, the loneliness factor in the United States has reached epidemic proportions. Here are a few statistics that show how losing  Hope has affected our nation. Loss of Hope leads to despair, and the ones affected most by this loss are the Generation Z people, those who are in the 18 to 22-year-old range. I have grandchildren older than that. The entire concept of these young people, fresh out from adolescence and beginning adulthood, having lost Hope is so sad.  How can this be?

Cigna referenced a “Loneliness Index,” and it shows that loneliness has become rampant in the United States. This worldwide health service company used the UCLA Loneliness Scale  (yes, they have a loneliness scale), which is a 20 item questionnaire that was designed to determine a person’s social isolation and their subjective feelings. This evaluator is used frequently to track and measure loneliness. Some of the results were astonishing. This is from their report of May 1, 2018:

  • 47 percent of Americans sometimes or always feel alone
  • 27 percent of Americans feel no one understands them
  • 40 percent feel that their relationships have no meaning and feel isolated
  • 20 percent feel they feel close to no one and have no one to talk to
  • AMAZINGLY—the Generation Z people (18 to 22) are the loneliest generation. How heartbreaking is that?
  • Social Media users have a 43.5 percent loneliness factor, which was comparable to the 41.7 percent for those who do not use social media.

Isn’t it interesting that nowhere is the name of God mentioned in these findings? And nowhere is the importance of the traditional family considered. The numbers are mind-boggling. We are a nation of almost 330 million people. If 47% say they feel “alone” that is nearly half the country. We only have to go back 25 years to the early “90s to see the rapid decline in the absence of Hope.

Since then, there has been a 58% decline in club meetings, a 43% drop in family dinners, and children have their playtime regulated, depriving them of natural social development. People use their phones to message each other, apply for jobs, get interviewed, quit jobs, break up with their boyfriends or girlfriends, file divorce papers, and do all sorts of interactions without having to go face to face with a person, never saying one word.

Getting back to God and family would be akin to putting the lynchpin back into the hub of life. Then, people, kids included, might be taught that they can turn to Jesus and never be alone. They might be taught to think of His words from Matthew 28:20   And behold, I am with you always, until the end of this age.

We must count our blessings on Thanksgiving, especially knowing that more than half of all Americans still believe in and honor God in their lives and that we have the freedom to do it. This Thanksgiving, millions upon millions of us will pray together thanking God for all we have. We should also pray for all those who do not have Hope in their lives. We know it can always be reignited and prayer can be the kindling used to fire up the Hope lying dormant in so many. God is just waiting to be asked to light the match.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Copyright©LarryPeterson 2019

 


Loneliness in America; a growing and deadly Epidemic

Loneliness                                        stockvault.net

By Larry Peterson

My wife passed on almost two years ago and when you become “widowed” there is an inescapable loneliness factor that enters your life. But I have learned that loneliness has no boundaries. It reaches out for everyone and captures many of the unsuspecting, including the seemingly happy and contented and successful, dragging them into a world of hidden misery and often depression.

Even though loneliness does occupy a unique place in the widowed equation, as it does for those who may have lost a child, a parent, or even a dear friend,  loneliness reaches out and grabs many unsuspecting folks who, on the surface, have happy and contented lives going on. It has become a social condition of almost epidemic proportions that has swept across America and is affecting millions of our neighbors.

When a man and a woman have been together for a long time, and one of them dies, the one left living is deeply wounded. But as painful as that may be, it makes sense; part of who they were is now missing and they cannot get that part back. Over time the wound will scar over and the intensity of the pain will diminish yet never leave. But what about the others?

Cigna referenced a “Loneliness Index,” and it shows that loneliness is an actual epidemic in the United States. This worldwide health service company used the UCLA Loneliness Scale  (yes, they have a loneliness scale) which is a 20 item questionnaire that was designed to determine a person’s social isolation and their subjective feelings. This evaluator is used frequently to track and measure loneliness. Some of the results were astonishing. This is from their report of May 1, 2018:

  • 47 percent of Americans sometimes or always feel alone
  • 27 percent of Americans feel no one understands them
  • 40 percent feel that their relationships have no meaning and feel isolated
  • 20 percent feel they feel close to no one and have no one to talk to
  • AMAZINGLY—the Generation Z people (18 to 22) are the loneliest generation. How scary is that?
  • Social Media users have a 43.5 percent loneliness factor which was comparable to the 41.7 percent for those who do not use social media.

If we think about the actual numbers these percentages refer to it is mind-boggling. In s nation of 330,000,000 people, 20 percent is 66.000,000 of us. When we say 47 percent, we are almost at 150,000,000 people. How can almost half the population of the United States of America, feel alone? How can 66,000,000 people feel close to no one or have no one to talk to?

The answer may be right in our face, but the secular world will never factor it in. You see, nowhere is the name of God mentioned in these findings. And nowhere is the importance of the traditional family considered.

Over the past 25 years, there is a 58 percent drop in attending club meetings, a 43 percent drop in family dinners, and a 35% drop in having friends over. Children have regulated play time, and they are deprived of social development. We reach in our pockets and pull out electronic devices that allow us to instantly reach each other day or night anywhere in the world, but how many of us are talking to each other.

Is our main mode of communication now email? How many young people can even write a letter or address an envelope? Job applicants interview over the phone or skype, couples break up via text message.

Loneliness is brought upon us by things we have no control over such as death, injury, accidents, and natural disasters. This we understand, this makes sense. But for so many, especially the young, to feel so alone with no one to turn to, is one of the saddest commentaries of our era. This does NOT make sense.

Getting back to God and family would be akin to putting the lynchpin back into the hub of life. Then, people, kids included, might be taught that they can turn to Jesus and think of His words from Matthew 28:20   And behold, I am with you always, until the end of this age.

Interestingly, the first three words of the Bible are; “In the beginning—”  Could the Bible or an app for the Bible be the beginning for someone to believe that they are NEVER alone?

“Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted
is the most terrible poverty.”
St. Teresa of Calcutta

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019


Are the Widowed Still Married or No longer Married? Widowed Catholics have Different Viewpoints

 

 

journeysthrugrief.wordpress.com

By Larry Peterson

We have come to know and believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in Him.”

The above quote from 1 John 4:16 led me to write what follows. It is a profound and beautiful quote and we should all try to remember it.

I have gone from being a husband to being a widower; twice.  My first wife, Loretta, died of cancer in 2003. My second wife, Marty, died from Alzheimer’s disease in March of 2017. What is interesting is how we, the widowed, perceive our widowhood.  I have discovered that some who have been widowed, both men and women, still consider themselves married. Some, like me, do not. Why is that?

Grief and loneliness are not fleeting, emotional upheavals. Contrary to what some of the experts might say, you never “get over it.” When a man and a woman have shared their lives with each other, given of themselves to each other, cared for each other and loved each other—in good times and in bad—it is a beautiful thing. It is how God planned it.

The married couple, especially those acknowledging God as their unifying, foundational support, become a new family. The man complements the woman; The woman complements the man; together they become one.

When the death of one of the spouses occurs, the one left behind oftentimes may feel completely deserted. There is a part of them missing. Feeling lost and alone no one, even your own children, cannot take away that feeling of being forsaken. Instead of  “getting over it” the widowed person begins a process.

Each and every one of us is unique and have our own way of dealing with the loss. We take our grief and loneliness and slowly begin placing it somewhere inside ourselves. The common denominator for the widowed is this: it takes time, lots of time.

Enter the quote at the beginning of this essay. As a man who is rooted in his Catholic faith, those words within the quote of, “God is Love,” explains (at least for me) what the death separation means. I know that both of my wives were women of faith and that they received the last rites.

I was married twice. Both times in the church. Therefore, when Loretta passed away, I became unmarried. ( I never thought of being  “unmarried” nor of getting married “again.” It just happened). My meeting Marty was unplanned and unexpected. But then I began to see the hand of God in all of this. Stay with me now.

Loretta is always a part of me. She lives on in my mind, heart, and soul. I was with her when she received the Anointing of the Sick.  Marty will always be a part of me and lives on within me also. I was with her when she received the Anointing of the Sick.  I loved them both but in different ways. It was amazing to discover this. God had taken Loretta who became embraced by eternal Love. Fourteen years later, God took Marty, who is now, also embraced by eternal Love.

From the bible quote, it all becomes crystal clear how this works. And it is beautiful. If God is Love and my spouses are with HIM (and I know that they are because all the power of the Church was bestowed on both of them at their hours of death), all they now know is LOVE.

Un-canonized saints, I can talk (pray) to them, and I know all they can do is Love me and want the best for me.  There can be no anger or envy or avarice or jealousy or anything like that in the Love world. I may remain a widowed man or I may not. I have no idea. Whatever way the Spirit moves me I leave it all to Him. I know I am in Good Hands.

There is the old cliché of, “it is better to have loved and lost—“ I have wondered about that because the lost part can really hurt. But, since I do know that God is Love, I would do it again.