A CURE FOR LONELINESS

People do strange things! I heard of a man who occasionally swallowed coins -- enough to make him sick! Which, as it turns out, was the whole idea. When asked why he made himself sick swallowing coins, he replied that he enjoyed the affection and attention the staff showed him in the hospital!

He was lonely. Many of us are lonely. When asked, "What is life's heaviest burden?" one lonely old man answered, "To have nothing to carry."

A cure for loneliness is to carry the burden of another. Get involved with their problems. Visit others who are also lonely.  Listen to someone else's troubles. Find people who need you and do something for them. Carrying another's burden will lighten the load of your loneliness.

I know a woman who gave each person in her family a golden angel lapel pin one Christmas. "Wear it on your collar or shoulder," she said, "to remind you that your guardian angel is always looking over your shoulder."

Her brother noticed his pin had a broken wing. He held up his damaged angel and quipped, "It figures. My guardian angel is missing a wing. She can't even take care of herself!"

Two years later he died of cancer. As I thought of the pain his family must be feeling, I was struck with how his broken angel is like each of us. We each hurt. We all experience loss. At times we are lonely. Like that angel, we are each broken in some way, even if our damage is interior and invisible to others.

But we're each like his broken angel in another way, too. As it has been so beautifully said, "We are all like angels with just one wing. We can only fly by embracing each other." You see, we will heal best by hanging on to one another. And we will overcome loneliness best by putting an arm around someone else and going it with them.

This family embraced each other. And as they carried one another's burdens, their own loads were lightened. It's a solution for loneliness -- and a formula for happiness.