What is loneliness to me?
In his role as both trainer and business owner of ALTTA Group, Colin has become a passionate mental health advocate. Colin’s mental health support skills are often used to help people with their anxieties and stress.
I’m lucky, I have friends – good friends, not just mates.
I have a great family and we all get on and stick together, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get lonely.
I lost my dad last year, and that’s when I realised what lonely really felt like. Lonely doesn’t mean you’re on your own. I rarely am. Lonely is a feeling, a hole in the heart, a missing piece, a yearning for a person, an animal etc.
My dad has always been there through thick and thin, no questions asked. He would say “I would back you no matter what, if you’re right. I will help you no matter what, if you tell me the truth.”
I never lied to my dad, except the usual little lies that kids tell. But when it came to the serious stuff, I didn’t lie as no matter what, I knew I had his help and backing.
I lost that last year, and that’s when I felt lonely, a real sense of loneliness. I have lost grandparents and great grandparents but it was never like this – the pain, the hole, the emptiness.
I go to my mums and I make a joke. I did what I always do and look for dad and his bouncing shoulders as he chuckles away. But all I see is his empty chair. I’m in a room of people but I’m lonely. Not for long, but I feel lonely.
We will play games that he never wanted to play but couldn’t help getting involved in. I sit now waiting for him to appear over my shoulder but he doesn’t, and that feeling appears again. I’m lonely although I’m not on my own.
I walk into my work, where he also worked. I see him training but he is not really there, and the grip of loneliness takes hold again.
I phoned him every day no matter what. I shared my good and my bad times – no secrets. But I long for one more call, another lonely journey.
I’m not the only one like this, my whole family will feel this way. A room full of people all feeling lonely at different points during the day.
Time does not heal, you just learn to live differently with the loss. You never lose the love, you never lose the yearning to be with them. You learn different ways to cope
It’s the loneliness as you never know when it will strike. I’m not like this every day, or even every week. You never know when that feeling of being a small boy needing his dad will appear and that’s why this loneliness isn’t obvious to others. It’s silent, it’s in your head, it’s a feeling.
What can others do? Not a lot really, just be mindful of the situation and be there for those who need it.