This study investigates loneliness in life stories by people with disabilities. By approaching loneliness from a relational perspective, this study attempts to illustrate how loneliness and disability are intertwined in the life course. The research question was as follows: How do people with disabilities understand loneliness in their life stories? Life story data ‘Life of Disabled Persons in Finland 2013–2014’ was analysed with a narrative life course approach. Loneliness was narrated in accordance with normative life course expectations. People with disabilities narrated loneliness as unbelonging in childhood, disjointed youth and disaffiliation to normative institutions in adulthood. This study suggests that relation between loneliness and disability concern the conditions of inclusion that is the conditions of living and telling.
- Loneliness involves both unwanted emotions and social isolation.
- In many societies, both loneliness and disability bear a stigma. This so-called double stigma affects the lives of people with disabilities.
- This study explores loneliness and disability in life stories by people with disabilities in Finland from a life course perspective. Although scholars have widely studied loneliness in Finland, they have not studied loneliness in people with disabilities in any great depth.
- Loneliness in life stories by people with disabilities was narrated in relation to a sense of bodily difference and occurred as a disconnection from a socially ‘standard’ life course. Loneliness was located within three main phases: childhood, youth and adulthood. Negative attitudes towards disability feed social isolation and emotional loneliness.
- Further research on disability and loneliness throughout the life course as well as more discussion about the conditions of inclusion and the emotional patterns of social relations are needed.