Loneliness through our life stages
Loneliness is something that we can all experience, regardless of life circumstances and backgrounds. However it’s important to know there are also key life indicators or certain events that happen during our lives that can leave us feeling lonely.
Loneliness is completely normal. Others will be feeling exactly the same as us and it’s helpful to think of loneliness as a part of life, so you can plan and anticipate ahead of time and have strategies and support in place.
This isn’t to say that everyone will experience loneliness and different things will work for different people, but it’s about taking control of your life and thinking about what could help you. Even if you aren’t experiencing loneliness yourself, having an awareness of these key life indicators can help us be more perceptive as to when others might be lonely. Of course, key life indicators aren’t set in stone and people may experience different things at different times, but it’s helpful to have a bigger picture of when loneliness might happen and to whom.
Key life indicators
Up to 20yrs old:
Starting nursery, school and college, parents divorce, exam pressure, bullying, friendship pressure, technological loneliness, moving home or to a new area, leaving home.
Going to university, starting a new job, moving away from family and childhood friends, starting in a new place, new parent loneliness, workplace loneliness, loss of social life, relationship breakdown or lack of relationship.
Heavy family responsibilities caring for children and/or aging parents, children leaving home, financial hardships, loss of social life, lack of time to put self first, divorce or relationship breakdown, uneven work/life balance, unemployment, loss of family life, health conditions, not feeling part of a culture or community, digital exclusion.
Retirement which can lead to occupational deprivation, lack of purpose or direction, bereavement and loss of friends, loss of independence, health conditions and loss of mobility.
Bereavement, diminishing social/community networks, health and mobility conditions, digital exclusion.
What if I’ve felt lonely all my life, regardless of age?
If you’ve always felt a disconnection from others or an internal loneliness, no matter what or who is in your life, it could be worth pursuing with a trained therapist or counsellor. It’s very common for adverse early life experiences (where we didn’t receive appropriate love, support or have a sense of belonging for whatever reason), to have a lasting effect. Our mental health can also affect us at any age, so it’s important to talk about how we feel with those close to us, and get the right signposting and support.