At times in my life, as a widow, I have been utterly lonely. Try admitting this in our culture and you’ll find that the listeners will cringe with a mixture of pity, revulsion and alarm. In our culture everyone wants a happy relationship and by saying “I’m lonely”, it shouts out like a need and it frightens them.
We treat physical disease by diagnosing and treating it. Why don’t we treat grief and loneliness with the same acceptance? Instead people tell us we should date but that doesn’t cure our loneliness.
We need to be heard and understood by those who understand the emptiness of our heart and keep us busy when our loneliness is at its worst.
Being “all in” means absolute loneliness with few personal interactions of any kind. This is the most horrible of all feelings and there are no quick fixes. Interact with anyone you can – talk to a store clerk, hire a good therapist, attend a grief support group, just make yourself get out and meet people. You say that you have social anxiety – I’ll tell you what I tell myself: Tough, get meds, counseling or whatever you need, but then get up, dressed and out of the house. No matter how scary it is, “all in” absolute loneliness is scarier.
A simple communication strategy is to show real appreciation and genuine curiosity followed with an honest compliment or question. Most often this will result in a brief, pleasant chat. Keep repeating these steps and gradually you will get comfortable with longer conversations.