(Editor’s note: This article was cut off in the print version of The Connector. My apologies for the error.)

Submitted by D. Martin

Loneliness lurks among us like a silent thief. Sometimes it is not recognized, or we just don’t want to admit its presence. It’s a pain that doesn’t easily go away. In part the dictionary describes loneliness as “unfrequented by human beings, sad from lack of companionship, uneasy because of being alone.” It’s a known fact that loneliness is a leading problem in society today.

As the late Mother Theresa noted. the majority of North Americans were lonely. Loneliness is a part of many lives and affects people in many ways. Some people assume the life of a recluse, shutting themselves away from everyone and the world in general. Often you can tell it in the eyes and faces of people around you. A haunting sadness. Others try to hide their loneliness.

They may partake in activities and some social life, but they are still lonely.

Loneliness is caused by many factors. The loss of a loved one or the break up of a significant relationship. The empty nest syndrome, when grown children leave home, often leaving a parent or parents with a sense of loneliness until they readjust their lifestyle. Perhaps one of the most significant and prevalent types of loneliness is when a person feels they are alone in life, no one seems to care about them, there is no significant relationship or companionship to give meaning to their life. This is a very common type of loneliness in society that carries a pain all of its own.

As human beings, we all need to be accepted, to be touched and loved by someone. It’s long been known that a caring gentle touch is therapeutic. Some health practitioners are using a technique called therapeutic touch to assist in healing those with various illnesses. Many people shy away from either being touched or touching someone else for fear of rejection or disapproval of their peers. A simple hug is very powerful and can do so much. A walk down any of our city streets is a revealing look at the amount of loneliness, seen in the homeless, the addicts, the elderly and yes even some young children.

Loneliness is often more prevalent at times like Christmas or special occasions when family and friends normally gather together. At these times depression and suicide rates are often higher also – an indication of the extent of loneliness in society. Reaching out to others in a non-judgemental way and accepting them can be at least a start in easing the pain of loneliness that haunts so many. Think how much we can brighten our own lives by at least making an attempt to enrich the lives of others. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “it is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”