Loneliness is a killer. When you look at the death rate statistics of western society it has a bit of a jump just after New Year, regardless of where you live in the world or when you celebrate New Year.
You also find the same spike in the three years following retirement and a short time after the death of an elderly spouse. Why? One thing all these events have in common is connection. People near the end of their life look forward to events such as Christmas and New Year with their families, after which they have nothing to look forward to for a while. Retired people go from their life being filled with people at work to almost no one in their life.
As for the death of a spouse, my Grandfather was ill for a lot of years, but he hung on in there, then my Grandma got breast cancer and died not long after. With nothing left to live for my Grandfather also died less than a year later.
The Corona Virus is forcing millions of people into isolation across the world to protect themselves from this deadly virus. For those in isolation it’s going to be a rough ride. Seven years ago, my step father died leaving my mother a widow.The Corona Virus is forcing millions of people into isolation across the world to protect themselves from this deadly virus. For those in isolation it’s going to be a rough ride, let's make it easier! Click To Tweet
Since then she’s built a life for herself. She’s retired now but works part time at a theatre, she sings with a local choir, looks after my nephew once per week, visits close friends, plays table tennis, attends events at her local community centre, visits my grandmother and goes to church regularly.
She’s filled her life with people and now for the foreseeable future, it’s all gone, she spends her days alone at home with the occasional walk which is why it vitally important for myself, my brother, other family members and friends to keep in touch.
Even if we’re isolating ourselves it can be easy to forget to keep in touch so here’s a way to ensure all of your loved ones have the connection they need to get through this;
- Set Up
- Show Up
First set up the means by which you’re going to communicate, then schedule the time and frequency and finally show up.
How are you going to communicate, phone, video call, email, instant messenger. The more engaging the better, seeing each other in person is out of the question when in self-quarantine so video calling would be the next best thing followed by a phone call then the myriad of other written communications like email, text messaging or WhatsApp.
If you want to do a video call spend some time to get it set up, when one of you is not very tech savvy spend a bit of time researching the simplest solution. You need something easy that can be achieved in a few button pushed.
A few things to remember; do you need to upgrade your internet connection speed and is it still possible in your area? Is the software you’re using compatible on all the devices you’ll be using? Do you need to pay for the service?
Once it’s set up decide who will make the call, make sure both people know how to receive them, it’s a lot easier to pick up a call than to make it so get a tech savvy person to make the call.
Test, test, test. Test your ability to get in touch with each other at least 5 times if it’s a new method of communication such as video calling when you’d typically just use the phone.
It’s important that you schedule the conversations. Preferably at the same time and same days every week, for example Monday 5pm, Tuesday 8pm, Thursday 5pm, Friday 9pm and Sunday 1pm. Write down the schedule and put it in a safe place wherever possible.
If you can’t schedule the calls as above there are other options, you could ensure after every call you schedule the next day / time you’re going to call and write it down or add it to your day calendar.
At the absolute minimum I would recommend you commit to the next day in which you’re going to call whether that be tomorrow or any other time in the future. Set up reminders on your phone or calendar so that you remember this is a commitment you’ve made.
By doing this you’re giving each other something to look forward to. Having this is vital to mental health, any uncertainty in whether or when the next time you’ll communicate may be very damaging.
If you fail to show up you could do some serious damage to their mental health. If there’s any doubt that you’ll be able to make the next conversation make sure you manage their expectations and agree on a course of action if you can’t make it.
You might want to commit sending a text message before the arranged time to let them know you got tied up with something else. Agree that if you can’t make it, you’ll rearrange the day/time of the next call in the text message you send to cancel your conversation.
Don’t make any commitments that you have no intention to keep and when you make a commitment, really commit to it, don’t mess the other person about, this can do more harm than just not communicating at all.
Over the coming weeks and months of isolation let’s keep everybody talking, if you can spare the time reach out to your local council to see if there are any initiatives in your area where you can reach out to strangers who are alone and isolated. Together we can bring hope to the entire world, together we can get through this corona virus crises.
There is more that you can do to help overcome wither your own feelings of loneliness or the feelings of others. To find out more sign up for my FREE Overcoming Loneliness guidebook and workbook.