Who's that Girl?


I Cried in the Grocery Store: A Story of Soup and Loneliness

Originally posted: October 15, 2022 on TrishMcFarlane.com

person standing between shelvingsI cried in the grocery store.

No, it wasn’t over the outrageously high prices that we’re facing post-pandemic. It wasn’t because they were out of a favorite, or needed product. It wasn’t over someone saying something unkind to me.

I cried because I suddenly realized how lonely I’ve been.

I’ve been a single mom for many years. My home has been filled with the sounds of my twins’ unrestrained laughter, their warmth, hugs, unwavering support, and love. But, times have changed. Now that I’m an empty-nester, I’ve filled my last couple months with work, music, and countless old Survivor episodes. I’ve pretended that my world is full even though I now spend countless hours alone. The truth is, I had almost convinced myself that I was enjoying the solitude. Almost.

Then, I bought soup.

I walked down the grocery aisle trying to find the perfect organic, French country vegetable soup. It’s Amy’s, if you’re wondering. After using grocery delivery services for many years, I changed the pattern and began shopping in person. Each time, I found myself near tears as I realized that buying food for one person is a sad, smack in the face emphasizing that I’m alone.

Yesterday, things were going to be different. I faced the grocery store with anticipation and excitement. Why?  Because my daughter was coming home from college for the weekend. As I searched for the perfect soup, I suddenly realized just how lonely I’ve been. I fought to hold back the tears burning my eyelids.

Loneliness is a Common Problem

So many of us deal with loneliness in silence. Whether it’s because your children have grown up and moved out, a relationship with your significant other ended, you’ve lost a loved one to illness, or countless other reasons, loneliness is everywhere. According to Cigna’s 2020 U.S. Report: Loneliness and the Workplace:

  • Fifty-eight percent of respondents say they always or sometimes feel like no one knows them well, up four percentage points from 2018 (54%).
  • More than half (52%) report sometimes or always feeling alone, up six percentage points from 2018 (46%). Those reporting that they feel left out has seen a similar increase from 2018 (52%, up from 47%).
  • Half (49%) always or sometimes feel as though they lack companionship (2018: 43%). Similar numbers report they always or sometimes feel isolated from others (48% vs. 43% in 2018) and that their relationships with others are not meaningful (47% vs. 43% in 2018). Nearly half (45%) say they sometimes or always feel that they are no longer close to anyone (2018: 39%).

This report published pre-pandemic so it stands to reason that those numbers would be even higher now. I look forward to Cigna’s upcoming research on 2021.

You Are Not Alone

I share all this not only as self-therapy, but in hopes that if you’re lonely and reading this, you’ll know you are not alone. I also want to highlight that wherever you go in the world, realize that  other people are struggling with this too. So next time you’re in the grocery store, if you see a woman crying as she buys soup…it won’t seem that strange.

I’d love to hear your stories and how loneliness is impacting your life. Feel free to share in the comments, email me at TrishaM89@gmail.com, or tweet me @TrishMcFarlane.

Leave a Comment

How we can help

Led by Trish Steed and Steve Boese, H3 HR Advisors harnesses over 40 years of experience to delivery HCM insights and guidance to global organizations.

Advisory services

By leveraging technology, analytics, and our deep industry knowledge we can help you to reposition your workforce and ensure that you have the right people with the right capabilities in the right roles to positively impact the growth of your business. 

HR Happy Hour Podcast Network

Created in 2009, The HR Happy Hour Show is hosted by Steve Boese and Trish Steed and is the longest continuously running internet radio show and podcast on Human Resources, HR Technology, Talent Practices, Workplace and Leadership topics. 

Speaking Services

We work closely with every client to customize your content - keynotes, webinars, research, infographics, and buyer’s guides - to inspire, educate and inform the audience enabling you to reset and realign your organization for a talent-led breakthrough.

Get in touch

Talk to us today and find out how we can help you and your organization leverage HCM technology to attract, onboard, retain and manage top talent.