Adapting to being alone

Julia Faulks / 14 January 2016

The huge feeling of loss following a bereavement can be devastating and you may feel it’s the end of the life you once knew. We look at how you can learn to deal with feelings of loneliness as you adapt to a new chapter in your life.



It’s important to remember that even though you may be feeling lonely, there is no need to be alone. There are many people going through the same thing and lots of opportunity to socialise and make friends, whether it’s face-to-face or via a digital forum. You may also find it helpful to take up one or more of the following:

1. Alternative therapies or counselling

From meditation and yoga, to healing techniques such as reiki, there are a wide range of alternative therapies that will help relax your mind and body and increase your natural endorphins, along with more talking-based therapies or counselling.

Having therapy to deal with a bereavement can help you to move on from a loss and cope with any feelings of isolation. Speaking to a therapist or counsellor is also a great way of offloading your emotions, allowing you the space to have a cry or helping you deal with anxiety or post traumatic distress disorder.

Jo lost her husband in 2013 after an 18-month battle with kidney cancer. He died peacefully by her side at St Joseph’s Hospice. “I still feel very lonely, three years after my husband died. I find that having animals help – in the early days the dog was the reason I got up in the morning.”

Find out what bereavement counselling is available.

2. Do something that makes you happy

You may be living alone, but that doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. Sometimes you need to give yourself a confidence boost and push yourself to try new things and expand your network of friends.

Derek, 82, lost his wife Mary in 2013 shortly after her 82nd birthday. Having struggled with spending much of his time alone, Derek now finds great comfort in the support he receives from the RAF Benevolent Fund. 

This enables him to continue spending time at its respite care home, Princess Marina House – a place he used to travel to with Mary: “Being without Mary is incredibly hard. It’s something I have had to get used to, but time is a healer and you have to make the best of it. I’m lucky enough to be pretty outgoing so I now sing in a choir, which I really enjoy.”

Read our guide to activities that can combat loneliness keep you social.

3. Get back in touch with old friends

You may find you are in a similar position to people you have known for many years, but have lost touch with. It could be that they were a mutual friend and you can reminisce together, go out for meals or enjoy trips to the theatre or cinema. 

Being part of a social group will also give you a sense of belonging. “When I went to church for the first time I was surprised to see that there were a few people that I already knew and now we have a meal together there every few months,” Derek adds.

Read our tips for making new friends.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.