All humans have at least two things in common, they experience tragedy and aloneness. Aloneness features prominently in the health journey. We fortunate ones have supportive, often present health teams. Still it’s our journey to travel – often alone – as an ePatient, caregiver, or professional. What is aloneness? This past week I’ve asked many. Some refer to loneliness, some to being alone. Loneliness is being apart, excluded or by choice. Loneliness feels like less – less than wanted or expected or experienced – the down next to the up. Less fun, less love, less power, less inclusion, less function, less help, less future, less control. Aloneness is not with others. People mostly speak of aloneness as a respite – relief from humdrum, pressure, worry, relationships, routine.
Sensitivity by other members of the health team to loneliness or aloneness challenges. How do we listen for loneliness or aloneness in others? Either its worn on the sleeve or its buried. If we’re empathetic enough to see it, how do we react? Respect it, pull or push, silent presence, distract, hug? The hardest challenge as a member of health teams – distinguishing between aloneness and loneliness and responding. For myself, I appreciate those who notice something’s off, are present, open a door, stand at the threshold, and don’t expect me to walk through it. I relish my aloneness from time to time. Peace with loneliness and aloneness is a magic lever of health.