When reporter Claire Bushey wrote about loneliness for the Financial Times last weekend she knew it would attract comments but even she was surprised by how many readers felt compelled to respond.
The piece, Loneliness and me, resonated with readers and attracted hundreds of comments below the article, with many more sent directly to the reporter.
The overwhelming sentiment was gratitude that someone had written about loneliness with many saying that the piece had made them feel “less alone”. Others wrote to give their support and to tell us about their own experiences of feeling alone.
Here, we have published a range of those comments below. Feel free to continue the conversation in the comment section below.
I live alone and today I was feeling very lonely. Then I read your piece and I felt less alone. Thank you. — Marcobaldo
‘You just need to meet more people’
I felt like I was reading a piece written about my life. One of the most frustrating things about my situation is how easily people dismiss me when I say I’m lonely. “You just need to meet more people,” they say, as if these mythical “more people” would just appear out of thin air. — mjsbunny
That was a beautiful piece of writing and I would happily spend time with her.
I am about to lose my wife to terminal cancer and I greatly fear this loneliness to come, after a life where I didn’t need anybody else. It’s precisely the sharing of woodpeckers and pickles — too trivial to interest friends but absolutely the stuff of a day-to-day shared relationship.
Is it worse for men? Men only socialise when doing things together, whereas women are happy to chat over tea. — Icarus
‘Being alone is OK’
This is the most touching and articulate essay on loneliness I’ve read. Thank you Claire. It’s possible that we become more selective and exclusive with age and experience. Being alone is completely OK and sometimes enjoyable but feeling lonely is best avoided. To borrow words from Holocaust survivor Eddie Jaku (“the happiest man on earth”) — hope, health and happiness are multiplied when shared. — Eccomi
‘Attachment can bring grief’
As my wife lay dying I told her once again that I loved her. She replied, “I know. I’ve been cherished. You’ve looked after me.” When she died, it was in the early hours and I held her in my arms until daybreak. My life since then has been a void, a meaningless charade, a shell painted to look like life.
But would I forgo the attachment we had to forgo this grief that is now mine? I know that my loneliness now will only end when she and I are together again. — JA Froude
Support in loss
The depth of feeling and the painful beauty of this comment made me cry. I am so sorry for the pain of your loss but thank you for sharing this with us. — NY/London Economist
I’ve rarely seen loneliness described in such an articulate heartfelt way. Beautiful writing from a lovely heart. — JAD2
A taboo subject
Years ago, I was struck by something Douglas Coupland said in a novel, on the taboo against discussing loneliness: “loneliness is the subject that clears out a room”. In the past few years, it has become fashionable to discuss loneliness in the third person, but it remains taboo in the first person. There’s a vicious circle in which the lonely person feels ashamed and his/her interlocutor feels afraid — terrified of being asked to meet what the interlocutor imagines to be an overwhelming need; so both avoid the subject save in abstract terms. — Sarcococca
‘Nice to have’
This article resonates so well! This passage particularly perfectly verbalizes what I have been thinking recently too: I am a “nice to have”, not a necessary part of their emotional infrastructure. We retrenched in March, turned inward, turned to those who live in our homes and, like I said, I live alone. — Zined
‘No friends project’
I felt true loneliness recently when I moved countries for work. I never understood how debilitating it was. After four months I made a “no friends” project plan with different streams — community; work; professional; social. It worked a treat — I think acknowledging the source of sadness and having a plan and doing something with purpose to address it helps enormously. — Joe Avrge
Globalisation is to blame
When I grew up in the ’70s, I remember boring Sundays with nothing to do except visit family near by. Everybody worked locally that I can remember. Globalisation, the search for work or a cheaper house has meant we all moved away. Of course, Newton tells us that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction and here lies the problem for a lot of us, miles away from our original structures that nourished us. — JBlake54
Loss of community
The loss of community in the digital age is a big problem. And the self-focus and anxiety which have gone with it contribute heavily to isolation.
I wish there were a way to teach kids from an early age to look outward and develop those qualities of kindness and empathy which are waning these days. The idea that there is not enough time in the day to care about others is simply depressing. — Climber65
Married but lonely
Some people feel trapped in a marriage and lockdown must be terrible for them however much they compromise. — The real greybeard
It is rare to see a journalist write with such vulnerability and tenderness on loneliness and put themselves front and centre of a reflexive article. Thank you for writing this, Claire — Altaf Makhiawala
A sequel to the story?
As I write this, Claire, you are early in your day in Chicago. It would be lovely to hear from you again at some point about how your day goes — did friends call and, if so, to say sorry or to deepen your relationship? Over the coming months do relationships with those you know change and does writing this piece proves a milestone in your life, professionally or otherwise? I hope all goes well. — Dicey
I have never commented on an article before but your writing compels me to leave one. This is pure gold. As someone who lived away from family for nine years before moving to be with them, I can relate on so many levels. — Nj93
A reply from Claire Bushey
Dear readers, you made me cry. Thank you for your generosity and compassion. Thank you for sharing your own experiences. I have not yet been able to answer everyone who contacted me directly, but I will. Gertrude Stein said, “I write for myself and strangers,” and never have I felt the truth of that line more. Thank you. Claire Bushey
*Comments have been edited for length and style
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