This is a good question.
Back in 2006 my husband was offered a good job at a company he had been trying to get into for a few years. Although we were thrilled, instead of day time hours, like with his former job, his hours were 1:00 p.m. to 1;00 a.m. Monday through Friday.
I was so accustomed to having him home evenings, and I looked so forward to seeing him.
Within two-three days after he started his new job, loneliness set in. It was a terrible adjustment for me. I even wept. That being said, I learned there is no real antidote for loneliness. The 'blow' of loneliness hit me like a jackhammer.
He has been with this company nine years. In 2007 he became ill, and he needed surgery. He was home eight weeks. The disease (peripheral arterial disease) blocked the arteries in his legs, so he was forced to quit smoking cold turkey. For some reason, after he returned to work, I found I had adjusted to his working these awful hours. It was like a miracle.
About three years ago, his manager put him on days. He is now back home with me evenings, and I was ecstatic when he gave me the news.
I call this loneliness by choice. During that time, I rationalized like crazy...I told God I was so thankful my husband was alive, and I said to God, "I don't know how widows do it. I don't know how women whose husbands are in Afghanistan do it. God, I am SO sorry for being so selfish!" After all that, I still felt lonely. However, I did keep very busy, I left the house, went to the movies, had dates and day trips with friends. But I loathed coming home to an empty house in the evening.
Regarding those who are lonely without a choice: my heart aches for them. Especially those in nursing homes, shut-ins and those who are agoraphobic. My father-in-law refuses to leave the house. He has stopped doing everything. He is bitter...he would not even join us on the holidays.
When I call him I tell him I love him...But you can't drag someone out of the house who refuses to leave. And he is VERY lonely.
It is tragic people are so busy, including myself, and it is easy to put off calling or visiting lonely people. Read the book "365 Thank you's" about a man who messed up his life and wrote a thank you note each day. It changed his life. Perhaps we could send out 'thinking of you' notes. it is wonderful to get unexpected mail. Blessings, Sparklea :)