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Neglecting the Lonely

When someone you love passes away, it can be the most heart-breaking, life-changing event that you can experience. Whichever family member or close friend it happens to be, the impact can affect us quite differently, depending on whether the person lived with us or not, how much their absence will directly affect our life, and how deeply those changes will be felt. One of the most profound losses is the death of a spouse, who may have shared your life for a short amount of time or for many years. The feelings of grief can be overwhelming, as the loved one was there to share each day – with holidays, birthdays, and Christmas. All of these major events emphasise the loss more profoundly, and an adjustment to the death can take many years to overcome; if at all.

My mother lost my dad over 10 years ago. It was a very sad time of course, and the loss has taken her a long time to adapt to. The reason I am writing this post is because I have noticed that,with her, and others in the same situation, the ways in which their grief can be ignored, often in an indirect way. It’s obviously not always the case, yet it does happen.

Not long after the funeral, many friends and acquaintances made a promise that they would be in touch, ring her and make sure she was alright. This did happen for a time, but gradually as people became consumed with their own lives, my mother was slowly forgotten. I think it is very unfortunate, as she gets quite lonely. There’s a term used for people living their lives with this situation – ‘social isolation’.

Many of us have busy lives in general, of course but there are people we may know who have lost a loved one, or they may just live alone. They can spend many days without talking to a soul. It can be a very lonely existence, and they do need support. Is there anyone that you know of who of could use a little company? Maybe a relative, friend or neighbour?  The latter are not our direct responsibility, I know, but I think it’s really important to show a bit of empathy for the down-hearted. Some people never have a family member that visits them – how would that make us feel?

I am a busy working mother, yet I make sure I provide my own mum with the care and consideration she deserves. I also lost a lovely neighbour of mine who recently passed away. She was in her 80s, lived alone, yet was very independent. I did notice, though, that she never really had many visitors, so I made sure that I popped round once a week for a cup of tea and a chat. Also, if I went shopping for my groceries, I always asked her if she needed anything. How difficult is that?!

They do look forward to a visit, even if it’s short, and it does break up the day for them. If they are mobile, ask them if they would like to go for a walk with you, or take them for a coffee to somewhere local.

Do not ignore the lonely. It may be you one day.

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