“The presence of others does not mean the absence of loneliness”
There will be many Muslims feeling completely alone on Eid. Perhaps they have recently moved into a new area and are far from family and friends. Perhaps they are new to Islam and haven’t yet made close Muslim friends. Perhaps they are living alone, all their friends are celebrating Eid with their families, and they can’t possibly invite themselves. Or, it may be that they are surrounded by people, but they don’t have a strong emotional bond with any of them; the presence of others does not mean the absence of loneliness.
One of the hardest things about loneliness is that you cannot alleviate it in the way that you may most desire. You want to be in the company of others who you feel truly connected to. You want your Eid to be spent laughing with friends and family, sharing food and joy, but this is exactly why loneliness is so difficult to deal with. You may feel that the only way to get rid of the pain of loneliness is not in your hands. You have no control over the actions of others or who comes into your life. You can certainly reach out to others, but for some, there isn’t the privilege of someone to reach out to, and for others reaching out doesn’t necessarily lead to a positive result.
Shaheed is 28 years old and has been a regular caller at MYH for a number of years. He suffers from clinical depression and battles with a gambling addiction, but he is unable to afford therapy due to the debt he has accumulated over the years. He has also become increasingly distant from his family and spends the majority of his time at work or alone in his room. He often explains how he just wishes he had someone to talk to. His mum is the only person who he feels cares for him, but he doesn’t want to burden her with his issues and make her upset. Shaheed was surrounded by his family for the majority of Eid but still felt incredibly lonely. In the evening he called MYH and was grateful that we were still open, as it gave him the opportunity to talk openly about how he was feeling.
Whatever the reason, many Muslims will be feeling lonely and we can help by keeping our eyes and arms open, as well as lending our ears. Here are three ways we can try and make sure no-one feels alone on one of the most important celebrations of the year.
1. Get hyped up and be generous
When you are happy and enjoying your time, you might find yourself being naturally generous. Remember others when you are planning your Eid celebrations. Think of little ways to brighten their day like sending a handmade card, cooking their favorite dish or buying them a present. This does not have to cost a lot, anything small which lets them know that you have been thinking about them will most likely be very appreciated.
2. Don’t assume anything
Those who do not have any plans may mask the fact that they don’t have anyone to spend Eid with out of embarrassment. Nobody likes admitting that they don’t have plans and that they will be alone. The people who are likely to end up spending their Eid alone feeling incredibly isolated are the same people who may respond vaguely that they are going to ‘go out’, have a nice relaxed day, or that they’re going to have some ‘me time’. They may seem positive about it but don’t assume that they are really excited about their plans.
3. Reach out
Often the advice to lonely people is to reach out, but this can be very difficult. Initiating conversation can be especially hard if you don’t feel you are worth other people’s time. Nobody likes feeling like a burden, and there are things we can do to make sure that others don’t feel this way. Send out personal ‘Eid Mubarak’ messages, and why not include an invitation? Letting your friends know that you’d love to spend your Eid with them can only strengthen your relationship, whether they take up the offer or not.
Finally, make sure you look after your own mental health. Eid can be a stressful time, and if you need to talk things through we’re here from 4pm – 10pm via phone, email or web chat, even on Eid day.
We hope that this Eid will be a joyful one for you all, and that this article helps you to help others.