The Worst Kind Of Loneliness

Most people have been touched by the tragedy of suicide. That saddens me for the person and for the world that is deprived of their gifts.

I don’t know what the total answer to that tragedy is, but I’ll bet it involves kindness and reaching out to those whose desperation and loneliness eat away at their spirit like a corrosive acid until there is so little left of their spirit that they can no longer even feel it.

That has got to be the worst kind of loneliness, when even hope and faith feel like false friends.

But kindness is an acid remover. It helps the spirit to shine and grow and to reveal itself to the person to whom kindness is shown and to the person being kind.

Kindness offers to each of us the incredibly powerful ability to help to transform lives and perhaps even save them.

We may not be able to save every life, but every life saved offers greater hope for humanity.

Thank you dear readers for being kind and for the other gifts you share. You make my world better for being in it.


About russtowne

My wife and I have been married since 1979. We have 3 adult children and 4 young grandsons. I manage a wealth management firm I founded in 2003. My Beloved is a Special Education teacher for Kindergartners and First Graders. I'm a published author of 23 books in a variety of genres for grownups and children. In addition to my family, friends, investing, and writing, my passions include reading, watching classic movies, experiencing waves crashing on rocky shores, hiking in ancient redwood forests, and enjoying our small redwood grove and fern garden.
This entry was posted in Dealing with Pain & Grief, Healing, Loneliness, Making the World a Better Place, Observations and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to The Worst Kind Of Loneliness

  1. I like that – “kindness is an acid reducer” – 🙂

  2. I’m not sure it’s just lonliness. I have spoken to a couple of people who tried to commit suicide and failed and I asked them why. They both had people who loved them and reached out continually to them in love and kindness. They spoke of pain. One told me that if her arm was ripped out and blood was gushing everywhere, then people would have understood her pain. When the pain is in your mind and no one can see it, they don’t understand and cannot bring comfort. It would be akin to telling the person with the ripped off arm that they should get out more or concentrate on what’s right in their life. This particular woman told me that suicide seemed the only option to end the pain. She also happened to be gorgeous and intelligent. So often people said why do you want to do this? You are beautiful! You’re smart! They meant well, but again back to the ripped off arm analogy – those words wouldn’t help in that case. I can’t fathom it, I can’t understand it, but it breaks my heart to know that some live with pain that no one else can see.

    • russtowne says:

      Thank you, Diana, for a different slant on this important topic. As someone who has one of the Suicide Diseases–so named due to the unbearable pain involved–I know how pain could lead people to do all kinds of things for the mere possibility that if they do them the pain would stop. So, I agree that loneliness is absolutely not the only reason people commit suicide. I don’t know the total answer. But I know part of the answer for part of the people who contemplate ending their lives to end the torture that has become their existence.


      • “Suicide Diseases” … ??? … I am sorry that your beautiful strength must be used to endure. I do wish that it could all be used for creating and fun and love. But WHAT is
        are the “Suicide Disease”(s)? I would guess the list is as infinite and diverse as the persons who seek Nothingness and Oblivion, or perhaps an entrance into Something Else Instead of What Is Here, there are also Atonement and Guilt, Honor, Unbearable Grief. Loss of all hope of Resolution, in addition to Pain, suffering, and the Intense Aloneness that is our excruciating lot which seems only amplified by the fleeting ecstasy of Enlightenment. If you decide this is not all there is, such as your recognition of kindness and love in others, and your recognition of your own maturity and beauty in that recognition, it does help one to disassociate from the pain(s), enough to get through the crises. From somewhere there has to come the sure knowledge that at some point there will absolutely be some relief. I don’t know your situation, but somehow you have found a way through, for now. Use that skill, whenever you need it, and it will like any skill, get easier with practice. And yes, you can use your personal knowledge to help others. You are right, every person’s pain, no matter the source, is unique to each and experienced entirely alone. That is until someone, like you, can somehow enter through that aloneness and allow some momentary relief through connection, and hope that there might be a way through around over or somehow to the other side. thank you for all you have done. P.S. , which are the “Suicide diseases”? Which one(s) do you have?

        • russtowne says:

          Thank you for your kind comments. I have trigeminal neuralgia. Most of the time, I’m fine. The meds are working well so far. I am blessed. If the pills stop working–and if I recall correctly they stop working in about half the cases–the next option is brain surgery. As I understand it, the affected area is the center of the brain, so I’m rooting for the meds to keep working. I’m blessed in many ways and billions of people carry burdens that are much larger than mine. All things considered, I’ve been dealt a very good hand, and have no interest in asking for a re-deal.

          By the way, if you type “Suicide Disease” in either Wikipedia or “Google” you can learn more about this condition. I can attest to the “one of the most painful conditions known to mankind” part. But as I said, I consider myself one of the lucky ones. The meds are working for me so far and most of the attacks aren’t nearly as bad as the first one that went misdiagnosed for weeks. That pain nearly drove me to my knees and I wanted to put my head through a wall to reduce the pain.



          • There has been some success in surgery which enlarges the bottle-neck (I’m sorry the term is just out of my retrieval reach)area which tends to irritate and inflame the nerve, though this congenital problem is not the cause for everyone. It merely enlarges the nerve canal. Also I have been told (by someone who uses them) that Botox injections have had some success. There are drawbacks, but minor ones. I have MS (which has allowed me to sample lots of symptoms, some stay and a few go) and other (what word to use?) issues, most of which involve nerves. Lots of folk do have heavy loads, but none are so immediate as one’s own intense acute pain. Or the pain of one’s loved ones, that we cannot experience ourselves in lieu of them feeling it themselves. Pain really is quite distracting, even to the most disciplined of transcenders (new word I just made up). Thank you for all that you have done.

        • russtowne says:

          By the way, if you type “Suicide Disease” in either Wikipedia or “Google” you can learn more about this condition. I can attest to the “one of the most painful conditions known to mankind” part. But as I said, I consider myself one of the lucky ones. The meds are working for me so far and most of the attacks aren’t nearly as bad as the first one that went misdiagnosed for weeks. That pain nearly drove me to my knees and I wanted to put my head through a wall to reduce the pain.


          • Did so (Wiki). Don’t like that term : Suicide Disease. Discouraging and hopeless it is. Head through wall, or counter-active injury doesn’t work. Then there is just that much more pain. If sensory overload would happen, then that is what the treatment would be. Unfortunately for us humans, it can always be worse. Sheesh! Not fair!! But what is? Does seem like, though, that if you have to suffer so much, there should be some sort of benefit, such as your children don’t have to experience heartache or need dental work. Something.

            • russtowne says:

              LOL! That initially sounded like a tempting idea to me, but a life lacking in heartache might deprive one of critically important lessons and attributes such as compassion, the opportunity to find out who their true friends are and for their friends to have the opportunity to be there in their darkest hours, the chance to truly understand from personal experience the pain and suffering of others, to be able to give and to receive kindness, the growth that comes from failure and loss, and the true and lasting appreciation of sweet wins and even sweeter relationships with friends and loved ones.

              On the other hand, the lack of needing dental work sounds like a great idea to me!


  3. Kindness is a gift to share, a blessing to receive and to give…costs nothing but reaps an amazing reward for both giver and receiver. I love your “kindness is an acid remover” ~ so clever. 🙂

  4. billgncs says:

    It is such a loss for us all when someone finds that inner pain cannot be borne. I hope it has not touched your family directly.

    • russtowne says:

      Indeed it is.

      No relatives of which I’m aware had inner pain that could not be borne. I love how you said that as I believe it accurately captures the feeling, and does so in a loving and caring way.

      I’m sure that there were times when it was contemplated. When I was a lot younger there were times when I have looked into the deep and dark abyss and felt its allure, and like most people there have been some very dark times as an adult too, but in the latter cases my duties as a husband and father ruled out any serious consideration of ending my life, and I have been in a very different place for a long time.

      I had two buddies from high school whose inner pain could not be borne.

      I was able to save only one.

      I thought I was just helping a friend who was in a very bad way. He said later that I had saved his life.

      I’ve often thought to myself, “What if I had been “too busy” to drop everything and help him that night?”


      • billgncs says:

        Wow Russ — that is an intense statement. I am glad you were able to be there for him.
        I think that duty and purpose help people soldier on but so many people think it is stigma or weakness and never ask for help. Kindness does help. And the realization that the feelings are not uncommon helps too.

  5. Elyse says:

    This is a thoughtful post, Russ. I do a bit of research on suicide for work. It is as everyone has pointed out, complex. But at some point in everyone’s life, they think about it. Everybody gets down from time to time, and wonders if it is worth going on.

    Depression must be recognized and treated. And the means to act on these feelings we all share from time to time must be minimized. If there is a gun in the household they can act on that with a 90% (ish) chance of succeeding.

  6. mimijk says:

    Hi my friend, I lost my closest friend to suicide over ten years ago – and I still am not over it. We lived on two different coasts, and her life became too complicated with hurts and a heart truly broken for her to not seek to get away. She was one of the most remarkable, love-filled, open-hearted people I have ever met, giving kindness to everyone and marveling when it was returned to her in some way. I flew out as soon as I heart she had been hospitalized, and sat with her and her family, talking with her until she had transcended. Planned and authored her memorial service…and still I feel her absence, still I feel that this could have been prevented. Still her voice echoes in my head. Still I lift my eyes to the sky and tell her my secrets because we would never let each other off the hook in that way..Still I ache.

    • russtowne says:

      Hi, Mimi. All that you continue to feel for this wonderful woman is a testament to her spirit and your friendship. You are a part of her living legacy.

      I’m glad that two such kind spirits met and became very close friends. What a wonderful gift each of you gave to the other with your friendship.

      My condolences at your personal loss. I feel sadness at the world’s loss with her passing.

      I believe her spirit lives on. Nature and the universe waste nothing, and I can’t think of anything more valuable than a kind spirit. Hopefully she has only lost her material body–which was alwys only going to be temporary anyway–and the earthly burdens that she could no longer carry, and I’m in awe at all that she might have gained.

      Her loving spirit remains.


      • mimijk says:

        Thank you Russ..I too believe that her spirit remains – in the breeze, on the wings of anything that flies – for that would be so like her. And yes she was a gift..

  7. jumeirajames says:

    Sometimes the idea that I could end it all right there was the only thing that got me through the night.

    And suicide is not all about depression, sometimes it’s just giving up – not everybody has a life than can be sorted by sweet-sickly epigrams. Sometime statements like ‘you can’t grab the future if you’re holding onto the past too tightly’ just make me want to throw up.

    • russtowne says:

      “Sometime statements like ‘you can’t grab the future if you’re holding onto the past too tightly’ just make me want to throw up.” I hear you. I have a friend that can’t stand sayings and affirmations. He doesn’t read this blog and I respect his decision. He remains my friend.

      However, there are many people, myself included, who find value in such sayings and thoughts.

      I ask this respectfully:

      If what you read at this site makes you want to throw up, why do you read what is written here? If you get no value from it, why are you here? Not all sites are for everyone.

      While everyone is welcome here, I ask for the sake of my other guests that everyone play nice together or leave. I don’t come to your house and pee in your pool. Please show similar respect to the comments of others when you visit here. As this is my on-line home, my rules apply. f I visit your online home I will respect your rules. I ask no more than what I’m willling to give.

      Thank you!

      I wish you much happiness and inner peace.


  8. mindfuldiary says:

    This post touches my heart in many ways. I have couple very close friends with suicide thoughts. Luckily they had strenght to voice it, before any terrible actions. They are both happy now. It is impossible to imagine the darkness of this hopeless state, depression blended with giving up. Pain that does not need to be there. We can not remove the pain, nor prevent it or heal it, but we can show vague shadows of light through kindness and acceptance. Follow them to the light, one step at the time. Wow, Russ what a difference you made there with your friend!

    • russtowne says:

      “Follow them to the light, one step at a time.” I like that! Thank you for your comment and thoughts.

      Sometimes all we can do is stand in the fire with someone, and sometimes that is enough.

      Our presence can make all the difference in their world at that moment. Not always, but often enough that it is worth the effort.

      And knowiing that someone is willing to stand with them when their whole world is burning down around them can have a power all it’s own when they have no strength left to carry on.

      It can buy them time to begin finding hope again.



  9. beebeesworld says:

    My daughter lost a friend to suicide last week-seemed to have everything going for them. It IS sometimes so lonely inside someone!

    • russtowne says:

      How devastating for her loved ones including of course your daughter. It isn’t always easy to see when the light of the spirit is flickering out, and if it does, words often fail at such times. May your daughter’s positive memories of her friend overwhelm her sadness and grief at her loss.


  10. thoughtsfromanamericanwoman says:

    Sometimes all it takes is a smile and two simple words… “I care”. Thank you for caring enough to share your thoughts on this difficult subject. My prayer is that your words reach out to someone who may be thinking of suicide and to someone who can hear their silent cries for help. Blessings – Patty

  11. JanBeek says:

    Kindness is sometimes synonymous with honesty and directness. Thank you for stating your blog rules so succinctly! You could have just erased the comment, not posted it, and ignored it – but I don’t think that would have been near as kind as dealing honestly with it. Good for you, Russ! And yes, I agree. Visit the blogs that are meaningful to you. Not every site is for everyone. This one sure speaks to me! Thank you ;o) xoxox

    • russtowne says:

      Thank you for taking the time to express your support of my stance, Jan. It is truly appreciated. I’m also grateful that this is the first time in the about two years since I began writing this blog that I have ever felt the need to ask someone to play nice or leave. That speaks volumes to the quality of the of the people who read this blog. I am humbled and honored by how wonderful you all are. Thank you!

  12. Beautiful post; at age 18, I lost a good friend to suicide. None of us saw any of the signs, or felt her pain – it broke my heart then and still to this day when I think of what she must have been going through to reach that final point. My heart goes out to anyone who finds themselves in such a dark corner. You are a good man, that you could be there for your fiend. Peace.

    • russtowne says:

      Thank you for sharing your story, Bonnie. I know that suicide touches nearly all age groups but the suicide rate for teenagers is especially painful to me. My hope is that society will be able to increasinglybecome more effective at helping ever greater numbers of teenagers live through those years. I’m encouraged by the anti-bullying movement that is taking hold and I believe making a difference. It is only one step in addressing a multi-faceted problem, but it is a step in the right direction.



  13. Russ, I agree that kindness, real kindness, not just hi-how-are-you, is very important, not just for those who are near suicide but for so many people who feel alone or marginalized these days. Sometimes we’re so caught up in technology that people fall by the wayside merely as other consumers. Fortunately I’ve never known anyone personally who committed suicide but I agree with some of the other comments that treatment for depression can also be very important. We can’t know all the answers but we can do our best to be there and care for those around us, whether suicidal or not. And as a Christian, I believe prayer is also important, even though we have to also do something, not just leave it to God to do supernaturally!!

    • russtowne says:

      Thank you for sharing your insights and wisdom. I believe that increasing the number of lives that can be saved has a great deal to do with increasing the amount kindness (as Bill says: “Kindness is love in action”), compassion, empathy, charity, and understanding. May we all find it in our hearts to make–or continue to make–a positive difference in the lives of others.


  14. ambikasingh2 says:

    sometimes, people get busy in their own routine so much that they forget to give a helping hands to those who are in need. I have been suicidal..just the thoughts of it. Mostly depressive, Yet, friends ignored me when I needed them the most. After getting myself out of the suicidal pangs, I have realized or rather convinced myself that everyone is struggling to keep up with life, everyone has issues, everyone is busy. Thus, getting them to hear me out is not the solution. More than friends, if your family helps, it is a blessing, true blessing.

    • russtowne says:

      Thank you for your thought-provoking comments. I too have been blessed witha good family.

      While this probably wasn’t the situation for you, there were times many years ago when I thought my friends had abandoned me. I was wrong. I had only thought that they and I were friends. I hadn’t really been much of a friend to them so I shouldn’t have been surprised when they weren’t there for me either. I learned that to have better friends, I needed to consistently BE a much better friend. Now I have true friends because I became one.

      I also learned that sometimes people who I didn’t consider to be friends came through for me anyway. I’d been selling them short and not appreciating them as much as I should.

      I decided that much like that saying about there being two kinds of people, those who believe that nothing is a miracle and those believe that everything is, I’d begin to believe and live my life based on the premise that nearly everyone is a friend or potential friend. My life has been far richer since I changed my view and it changed me.


  15. oh I am on that road. It’s a horrible road–like Cormac’s–as any survivor of a suicided family member will tell you.

    When my sister died, i started writing, though. I have grown so much as an adult–instead of the stunted kid I’ve always been–and I’ve learned this:

    Gratitude and kindness and love are the highest and only goals–I fall so short, so often, but knowing these things to be the source of all, I can almost always find my way back to a good (ish) mindset–and if i can’t, I try to keep quiet, and work it out with physical exercise….I exercise a lot!!

    No, it isn’t always easy, but that’s where strength of character and self DISCIPLINE come in.

    Thank you for caring. Are you also a survivor of such?

    • russtowne says:

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, observations, pain, and desires related to this subject, Charron.

      I had two buddies from high school whose inner pain could not be borne. I was able to save only one. I thought I was just helping a friend who was in a very bad way. He said later that I had saved his life.

      I’ve often thought to myself, “What if I had been “too busy” to drop everything and help him that night?”


        • russtowne says:

          Your three words cut like a knife, Charron. A chill came over me as I read the message contained in them. We have probably all been “too busy” at times. And the fate of your friend and you could easily have been the fate of nearly everyone in their relationships with others. I’ve seen how much destruction, guilt, and anguish can come from a simple decision being made in a rush and perhaps even under duress. May all who have found themselves in such a place find forgiveness for themselves as they have forgiven others . We are all far from perfect. I see you doing much good in this world. Thank you for being in mine.


          • there’s is supposedly a large percentage of would-be suicides that say they are so grateful they didn’t go through with it–that they were stopped.

            Thank you for listening, RT, and seeing good in me, too! I sometimes wonder..and did not mean to lay all that at your door. I appreciate your thoughtful response. Heart (( ))

            You make my world better for you, too!

  16. russtowne says:

    Thank you, Charron.

    “…did not mean to lay all that at your door.” Please know that I view what you gave to me as a rare, precious, and very special gift. I’m deeply honored by your trust. Thank YOU!

    When your world is better, so is mine, my friend.


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