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