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Learning To Live Alone-by Heidi McLaughlin

Posted: October 7, 2019

Living alone is hard, especially if you’ve always had someone by your side for a long time. Your body is jarred when your heart is exploding with joy and no one at home to share it with. Or, an unexpected bill arrives in the mail and now it’s up to you to handle it. You need to turn on the irrigation but don’t know where the knobs are, or you need to learn how to barbecue or change the filter in the furnace. In the almost three years of living alone, I’ve overcome all those frustrations and solitary adventures, but the aloneness is always there.

I’m facilitating a group called Grief Share, where once again I’m confronted with the reality of people learning how to live alone. Some for the first time after fifty or sixty years. I ache for them and cry for them because this is hard. Now there is always an empty chair and memories lurk in every corner. Many of them explain how they still call out to their loved ones to answer the phone or help them remove a lid from a jar and then remember…they’re no longer there.

Perhaps you’ve never been married, or are recently divorced and the walls in your house are closing in on you and you’ve run out of your favourite Netflix series. And the dark days of winter beckon your angst. You wonder if you will survive living alone for the rest of your life. How do we overcome this unaccompanied life when we’re created to be connected?

Here’s what I’ve learned in the past three years. In order to be fulfilled we have to pour out. Here are some examples of what that means:

  • If I want community, I have to go out to find and build community. That means joining a golf or bowling team, a knitting group, cycling group, book club or best yet; a Bible study group in your local church. Whether I feel like it or not, this is crucial to my daily purpose and joy.
  • This is a couples world so if people don’t invite you to their house, you invite them to your home. This takes work but it gives a beautiful purpose and it’s the best way to create intimate relationships. Our homes are the reflection of our hearts, and when we invite people into our havens, we invite them into our hearts.
  • Make time to be a friend especially if you don’t have family in your city. Friends are the heartbeat and lifeline of our existence. They teach us how to love and live. They show us how to laugh, escape our borders, and invite new possibilities.
  • Deepen your relationship with God. Buy interesting books on spiritual formation, read the Bible, learn to pay fervently and get to know God. Ask people to pray for you and you pray for others. Trust God and believe that He will help you find your new purpose and daily expect Him to be your shepherd, your “go to” for your every need.
  • Use this time in your life to do things you’ve never done before. Now you can travel more and learn to do creative projects you’ve put off for years because there was never enough time. Take that road trip, go to that movie, enjoy that knitting course, make raspberry jam (mostly to give away), ride a bike, take a writing course, write a book, lead a Bible Study and get re-acquainted with your high school friends.
  • Bake some apple crisp, sit and watch your favourite movie and don’t forget to add the ice cream. Why not, because it’s OK to learn how to enjoy your life. God is the only one who knows when it’s time to bring that wonderful man into your life.

Take all the time you need to grieve and envision every tear you shed to be a seed for new joy. Remember that God is taking you THROUGH this temporary pain and even though the aloneness may always be there, the sting will lessen.  Determine to make this a full and rich time in your life. Nobody will do it for you, you and God are the keepers of your life and heart. Let God help you be the CEO and creator of new possibilities.





Posted in: alone, ask God, Christ, companionship, decisions, empty chair, Encouragement, Expectations, feeling good, friends, Friendship, happiness, havens, homes, hospitality, laughter, loneliness, Overcoming Struggles, pray, recapture your joy, relationships

11 responses to “Learning To Live Alone-by Heidi McLaughlin”

  1. Susan Vidal says:

    Thank you Heidi, there is so much useful information in your blog for everyone. Sometimes/often people don’t think to add an extra place at the table for friends who are alone.
    We all often need to find a new interest as the seasons change. We all need to stay connected. You Bless all of us with your insights

    • hmclaughlin says:

      Thank you for your comment Susan. Yes, when we’re in a couples world we forget how lonely it gets for people who live alone. Especially at night, on the weekends and special holidays. Yes, and it’s up to me and other people who live alone to find those things in life that will be meaningful and fulfilling. Connection is the ABSOLUTELY the key. For some people it’s hard to reach outside of themselves. And YES, explore new interests in all new seasons there is so no much good life yet to live. Thank you for your beautiful heart and friendship.

  2. Blaine says:

    All great points. Been there done that.

  3. Shaunie says:

    Beautifully articulated

    • hmclaughlin says:

      Thank you my “heart connection” friend for being with me every step of this journey. What would I have done without you during those long dark days and nights? You’re always there for me. Always!

  4. Ashley says:

    You have taught me so much through your “aloneness” the past three years. I’m my own singleness, I have learned what it means to make the most of it which is exactly what you describe. I have been privileged to be a friend of yours that has enjoyed meals on the deck, road trips, and other wonderful times with you. Being a part of your community is one of the greatest gifts.

    • hmclaughlin says:

      Thank you my dear friend for those beautiful words. In “our” singleness, I have found fulfillment, joy and laughter and the meaning of living a fulfilling life. But as you and I know, we have to be intentional about creating loving community or we’re left in the dust. Thank you that we both make those moments happen. Life is richer and fuller because of YOU.

  5. Margi says:

    Thank You…WORKING thru it..still so fresh n painful

    • hmclaughlin says:

      Allow yourself the time to grieve, it is so important. I highly recommend going to a Grief Share group, or some kind go community that will help you walk this the hardest journey of your life. May God be with you and be your Comforter and strength.

  6. Thank you for these timely words! I love the line,
    “How do we overcome this unaccompanied life when
    we are created to be connected?”
    I, like you, have been confronted with this twice and,
    yes, they were difficult journeys indeed. Your
    suggestions how to navigate so “ bang on!”

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