The Destructive Power of Isolation and How to Avoid It

“The worst cruelty that can be inflicted on a human being is isolation.” – Sukarno

With busy schedules and a million commitments, we don’t always pause to value our friendships, connections, even casual acquaintances. Maybe we should.

Last year, the Kaiser Family Foundation, in partnership with The Economist, reported on an international study of adults in the United States, Japan and the UK found that one in five Americans “always or often feel lonely or socially isolated”. And it’s not just “the blues”. According to the report, those reporting loneliness and isolation said that their health, relationships and work suffered because of it. And studies have shown that loneliness can increase the risk of heart disease, arthritis, Type 2 diabetes and dementia. It’s clear that loneliness is more than just a common complaint. It’s a societal ailment that needs remedy.

So what can you do when one of the cornerstones of connection in your life—your marriage—disappears?

This week I sat down with Deanna Coyle, founder of Vesta: ReDefining Divorce, an organization that provides informative and social events, retreats, and referrals for trusted professionals to educate and empower people who are navigating life during and after divorce. After leaving Wall Street she now focuses on work that confronts loneliness and isolation head-on.

A Social Approach

As Coyle went through her own divorce and talked with others who were also going through divorce, she saw that a main complaint was isolation. Not only were they “un-coupling”, they were also often leaving close family and friends behind. And while people going through divorce can, of course, embrace all sorts of activities, there’s something special about an event populated by divorcees. Attendees have some important qualities and circumstances that are bringing them together.

Getting over Embarrassment

Coyle set up systems—like anonymous RSVPs—to help people who wanted to keep their responses private. She also offers to speak with people who aren’t quite ready to attend an event. She connects them with professionals they can speak with. This gives attendees and potential attendees some peace of mind—all they will be doing is meeting other people who are in the same stage of divorce that they are.

A Place of Support

Once people overcome any hesitation or embarrassment, they’re rewarded with a community of support. Coyle says they get a lot of repeat customers—including some who’ve been to all their events. These are people who have welcomed the return of connection and community.  They also like giving back and helping people fresh to the divorce experience find comfort and kinship during this process.

Isolation is a serious risk factor for your health, happiness and even your longevity. Finding tools to help you get through divorce while keeping your support system intact, or finding a new support system, is critical.

If you’re considering divorce but would like to try an approach that might mean a brighter future, call my team to schedule a confidential consultation.