Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Description and Interpretation of Loneliness

(Taken from my Doctoral Dissertation, 2007 which was defended in Dec, 2007 at the University of Rochester, NY)


Adrian is a 75 years old man. At the age of 60 he retired from his job as a sheet metal worker. He lost his second wife two year ago. His first wife is currently suffering of Alzheimer and living at the nursing home. Adrian used to be a member of the German choir. He has three daughters and they have their own families. Adrian is a traveler and he used to cruise with his second wife. Adrian keeps himself busy with house chores and he spends time with his older brother. He chooses spinning top as his metaphor. The spinning comes off the string and goes round and round and then it wanders off a little bit and then it slows down and stops. He identifies his life similar to this spinning top. According to him, he needs to keep up his life straightened.

Losing his wife is an incident that he needs to accept and to reprocess in his life. He gently expresses his feeling about this situation.

Adrian: It is a feeling of missing someone a significant other. There is the emptiness in that feeling. It is also painful as I see that I am alone now. Like a part of me is not there. I know it but I can’t put my hand on it. It’s an inner part of me that I should be aware of but it just isn’t there. And yet, I am not grieving because she is gone. I am looking forward to seeing her again. (Line 48-53 of 1st interview).

His exploration into this situation becomes apparent when he interprets his loneliness.
Adrian: Loneliness is a feeling that something is missing out of your life and you keep looking for a way to replace it. It’s something hard to define, actually. I don’t know what the word could be. I can’t explain it very well but it is an absence of something. (Line 73-76 of 1st interview).

With his gentle and emotional voice he expresses his inner feeling.
Adrian: The emptiness is not having her there to touch to hug I keep wishing that I had done more of it when she was still here. I told her I loved her more because you can say it a dozen times a day. It’s still not boring. (Line 107-110 of 1st interview).

He delves in-depth with his feeling and he eventually voices this sentence in regard to his feeling of missing something. He ultimately explains his feeling.

Adrian: It is an emotional and painful because I am missing wife. There is emptiness and it cannot be replaced. It is also a feeling that comes and goes in life. (Line 292-294 of 1st interview).

Adrian expresses his lived bodily but in this aspect confidently expresses of how he feels.
Adrian: I have been very fortunate. I have been very healthy but, I have been thinking about that, too. I don’t want to be a burden to anyone. I am little bit worry because I am alone. And yet I don’t really like the thought of living in a nursing home. For one thing it is too expensive. (Line 190-194 of 1st interview).

Another positive perception of Adrian as he is living independently is that he is not totally lonely because of his companion a dog.

Adrian: However, I am not that lonely at the time I have an old dog and she’s with me, most of the time. In fact, when I sit down, she thinks that it’s a signal for her to jump up on my lap. She’s a little apricot colored poodle. She’s a good girl and she gets along fine with the kids. She loves them and her tail is wagging so hard you think she is going to take off like a helicopter. (Line 55-60 of 1st interview).

In regard to his own interaction with others, it is obviously that Adrian has limited himself of going out. He goes out only for some special occasions.

Adrian: I see my brother mostly; I see him twice a week. We go out together for lunch on Thursday and dinner on Friday. We go someplace where there have a good fish fry. (Line 185-187 of 1st interview).

One way Adrian point out of how he keeps himself for being lonely is by occupying himself with works.

Adrian: I keep myself busy. I have an awful time trying to keep my room straight. I have papers all over the place; on the desk, on the dresser. (Line 63-65 of 1st interview). I’ve had plenty of things to keep me busy. I don’t have time to sit and brood, even if I had time to brood over something. (Line 28-30 of 1st interview).

His kitchen area at home is the place he likes to be because it enables him to reminisce his past relationship with the wife.

Adrian: I would say the kitchen, because we just sat in the kitchen and talked quite a bit. If we had anything bothering us, that’s when we got it off our chest. It never interfered with our meals. We would just get up and leave the table. That’s one of the good things about it. As long as we discussed things and got them off our chests, we didn’t have a lot of arguments. We may have had little disagreements about one thing or another that weren’t very serious, but if it was serious, we both gave in. I can’t think of anything much that was that serious that we had to worry about it. (Line 119-128 of 1st interview).

Adrian expresses an interesting event of his life of how he realizes his action of what he is doing is a kind of coping mechanism toward his wife death.

But I am beginning to understand that that is a way of compensating for the loss of my wife because eating always keeps you satisfied and happy for the time being. But, it just occurred to me a short time ago that perhaps that’s what I am doing without even realizing it. (Line 174-177 of 1st interview).

Finally Adrian highlights of how he wants his life to be and what direction does he needs to follow. He has his beliefs and faith that becomes his primary focus in Life.

Adrian: I just want to be firm in my faith and sometimes there is a struggle between what I should do and what I have an inclination. It’s been that all our lives. First things, first. God is always first. It has to be, no matter what. I am not letting anything interfere with my going to the 8:00 mass unless there’s nothing I can do about it like being snowed in or having a flat tire just before I start off to mass or something like that; circumstances. (Line 223-230 of 1st interview).

In summary, Adrian describes loneliness identifying to how he misses his wife who have died. He also explains that his eating habit has to do with his coping of the death of the wife. It is compensating of the loss of his wife. The emptiness signifies of not having someone to touch and this he refers to his wife. Loneliness for him is also emotional and painful and the emptiness cannot be replaced. He concludes by saying that it is also a feeling that comes and goes in life.

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