Have you ever been alone for the holidays? Have you ever felt alone generally?
I imagine we’ve all been there. In my line of work I encounter many CEOs who feel isolated and alone as their businesses crumble around them. They’ve done all they know how, nothing has worked, and people around don’t understand what they’re experiencing. Heavy is the crown and so forth.
That kind of loneliness is crushing, and if I could wish it on no one ever again I would. Unfortunately, I can’t. All I can do is try to lighten the load of loneliness for those experiencing it.
This is an especially important time of year to alleviate the loneliness of others as it’s the time many of us are most reminded of our families, especially those members who may be gone.
One way I give to others is by opening my home to those who could use a place to go, not necessarily for monetary reasons, but because it’s tough to be alone and I can make that better. You can open your home, too. It’s a great way to give back during tough economic times. As holiday meals always have leftovers that go to waste, why not just include more people?
Open your home to the singles in your community: the widow or widower, the divorcee or a person in transition. I’ve named some general titles here, but I’m confident that there are others who don’t fit quite so neatly into these categories – just the new person in the neighborhood or community, a friend who’s more estranged from family than he talks about, or whomever could use the company.
The holidays may be the most poignantly lonely times, but the rest of the year may be even more challenging because those are the days that drag on and pass, especially when one is lonely.
An invitation to a meal with your family, a birthday party or any other occasion is a wonderful way to welcome someone into your home and life. It doesn’t have to be an everyday thing to make someone feel loved and watched out for.
I remember how lost my 36-year-old widowed mother felt by being excluded as a “third wheel” after my father died. Fortunately, she remarried several years later and rebooted her life, but I’ll always remember the look on her face sitting at home alone.
These days, I always invite an old friend of my parents whose husband died a year ago to all of our family affairs. She’s elderly, quiet and sweet, and I know it means a lot to her to be around friendly faces for special occasions, even if they’re not the faces she wants to see the most.
Do what you can to give back by opening your home to others.
Who do you invite and how else do you give back?