Helping Others Understand the Loneliness of Grief

Loss and loneliness often go together

“People say they know what I’m going through. No, they don’t. They can’t,” Carter said.

Grief is lonely. No one knows exactly how you feel. It was your relationship and your loss – yours alone.


From the Grieving Heart… 

I feel alone. 

They said they would be there for me. They looked me in the eye and sent the message that I could count on them. At least, that’s what I heard. 

But they haven’t called, visited, emailed, or attempted to make contact. It’s like they just vanished.  

If I happen to run into them, a look goes across their face that resembles fear. Is there something wrong with me? When did I become scary?  

I wonder what they’re thinking. Am I that uncomfortable to be around?

Sometimes I’m scared to go out. Bursts of grief slam me at unpredictable times and I find myself weeping in the strangest places. I feel like an embarrassment to myself and others. 

Some have pulled away. Others try to fix me. Many give advice. Everybody wants me to feel better and move on. 

The hole in my heart is aching. Nothing is the same. Expectations, hopes, and dreams have disappeared. I sense my relationships changing.

 Sometimes I feel like my grief is some kind of disease. I hadn’t counted on the pain of loneliness too. 

Please be patient with me. I’m grieving. 


Grief is lonely

Recently I sent out a one-question survey. I asked people to share with me what they struggled with most in their grief process. Out of roughly 500 responses over 80% said, “Loneliness.”

People can feel alone in a crowd, a small group, a conversation, a family, or even a marriage. Loneliness strikes when we feel misunderstood, judged, or belittled. It creeps in when we sense our hearts are at a different place from those around us.

Loss shakes us. The mind spins, while the heart frantically searches for solid ground in the midst of what feels like a free fall. 

A family can experience a loss together, yet all of them still feel alone. Part of this is natural, because the loss is different for each person. No one fully understands another’s thoughts or emotions. 

Grief is lonely. Because life is about relationships and we’re all relational creatures, we don’t typically deal well with the pain of separation. Loneliness is not one of our goals in life. 


We need others to share our loneliness

If you’re grieving, most likely, you’re struggling with the pain of loneliness. You don’t need people to try and fix it or make this better. They can’t. But wouldn’t it be great if a few were aware of your pain and supported you when the loneliness hit?

Pain is natural part of grief and healing. We need safe people who will accept us where we are and be with us in this. As others accept us, we just might be able to accept ourselves.

Lonely? Yes. That’s a part of grief.

Alone? Never. The lonely road of grief is well populated. We’re in this together.

“I know this is a lonely road. Can I sit with you for a while?”


Adapted from the bestseller, Please Be Patient, I’m Grieving: How to Care For and Support the Grieving Heart. 


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About the Author

Gary Roe is an author, speaker, and chaplain with Hospice Brazos Valley. He is the author of the award-winning bestsellers Shattered: Surviving the Loss of a Child, Please Be Patient, I'm Grieving, HEARTBROKEN: Healing from the Loss of a Spouse, and Surviving the Holidays without You and the co-author (with New York Times Bestseller Cecil Murphey) of Saying Goodbye: Facing the Loss of a Loved One. Visit him at

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