Loneliness in Winter

Winter comes with a harsh beauty and uncompromising finality.

Gone are the vivid leaf landscapes, leaving only bare branches in their wake, and biting winds to replace the gentle fall breezes. When daylight seems to disappear so quickly into the cold night, it’s not surprising to experience feelings of sadness or loneliness. And if you are grieving the loss of a loved one, getting through the winter season can be especially difficult.

Dealing with the death of a beloved family member or close friend is never easy. The emotional rollercoaster of a funeral and trying to adjust to life in the aftermath can be overwhelming no matter the season. However, cold weather can make the situation even worse for people who are negatively affected by seasonal changes. Some people suffer from a type of depression known as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) during winter – if you are diagnosed with SAD and also coping with grief, it can be tough to feel positive about life in general.

5 Ways to Combat Loneliness and Grief

So why is it that some people in mourning experience more loneliness and despair in winter than others? And what can they do to combat the negative feelings of isolation and misery? Emotions vary from person to person but there are various ways to cope with grief and loneliness during the winter time. When it gets chilly and you find yourself yearning for more light, warmth, or just a little more happiness, here are 5 ways to get what you need:

  1. Say Yes – it can be tough to get motivated when you’re grieving. Give yourself a different perspective by saying “yes” to requests made of your time. At first, it may seem scary to say yes to unfamiliar things but don’t be afraid – open yourself up to new opportunities and soon life will seem more abundant and less lonely.
  2. Walk a dog – therapy dogs are trained to provide comfort and companionship to bereaved people, and studies have shown that interacting with dogs can have a positive health effects. If you’re not a dog person, don’t worry – other animals (such as horses, rabbits, and cats) can also be an outlet for stress and anxiety. Children especially respond well to therapy animals, finding it easier to talk about their feelings when the animal is present. So when you feel gloomy, consider the physical and emotional benefits that come from socializing with animals – even just an hour of play with a pet can feel like a ray of sunshine on a wintry day.
  3. Call a friend – some people avoid talking with family members and friends about grief because they don’t think others can understand their pain. But sometimes all you need is someone willing to listen, and calling people you haven’t talked to recently can go a long way to helping you reconnect when you’re feeling alone and strengthen personal relationships. If the weather outside is frightful, just pick up the phone and be social. It always helps to talk things out!
  4. Learn a new skill – sign up for a cooking class, join a hiking club, or learn how to play chess. New hobby prospects are endless – just pick an activity that is sure to change your routine and make you engage with other people indoors or outside. And once you get involved in your new hobby, stick with it! Add a personal challenge or set a goal to ensure you don’t give up after the first week.
  5. Volunteer – volunteering makes a difference in your life and in the lives of others. It’s also a great way to honor the loss of a loved one by giving back to a cause they were involved in or supported passionately. Signing up as a volunteer will get you out of the house, get you energized, and give you a chance to meet and serve others. These 3 things alone are easy ways to combat grief and loneliness and simple to put into action. Check online or with local organizations to find volunteer opportunities in your area.