Not long ago I read a newspaper report that I haven’t been able to shake. I think about it often, still wondering how it possibly could have been true.
It was a heartbreaking story about a woman in Italy, who had been found two years after she passed away. (Link to story) No one even knew that she had died, she faced death alone. It took twenty-four months (that’s eight seasons) for someone to realize things were not right around her home and it was only then, that she was discovered sitting in her chair. The fact that it took so long for her to be found wrecked me.
That’s an inconceivable end of life.
In so many ways.
They didn’t say what the cause of her death officially was. But I’ve often wondered since, if you can die of loneliness.
The world has been through Covid, and the resources that support individuals in all stages of life, in so many countries have been stretched to their limit. People have been isolated and we’ve had to navigate difficult seasons. We’ve been shut out, and shut in. Both physically and mentally. And in the middle of all that, our eyes and hearts that often had capacity to see and take care of our neighbours were put on pause. And the back and forth of it all, has made it challenging to know how to restart.
Community has been hard.
I look at my own life. This natural introvert who could usually function pretty well in the world, has had to learn to re-engage. Being alone was ok at times for me, because I am a person that needs space to recharge, but I would never choose to be lonely. Now, I struggle to find my place again too. But no matter when I’m at, I have people. I’m going to get through and be ok.
I think of those who are truly alone. I evaluate my own life and relationships constantly, and I’m hoping that I haven’t missed anyone. I’m looking hard, and giving myself the grace I need, but also making myself accountable to always try to love more.
Maybe we could all try?
No one can reach all the lonely people in the world on their own, but maybe if we all worked together we could do better?
Be the ones that reach out first.
Try to look for those who have been silent.
Remember those that may need support.
Re-engage in places and spaces where we can connect with others.
Keep our eyes open for people who cross our paths who need love.
The world is filled with lonely people.
Perhaps there’s someone waiting for you.
For us all.
I was visiting my mom earlier today, and I met a kind man as we waited outside for our test results. He doesn’t drive, and he was happy that it was a warm afternoon because he had walked to the home. I asked him how often he visits, and he said every day he walks over to visit his father who has been there for years. I thought that was amazing in itself, then he told me that he lives in the small community over.
I was stunned.
He walks over 10k each way to visit his father.
So his Dad won’t be alone.
I was so moved.
And encouraged to take more of those kind of love-steps in my own life.
I think of that precious woman in Italy, as she passed away sitting alone in her chair. It’s made me cry a few times as I’ve thought about it. It sounds silly, but I wish I had been there to hold her hand. I wish that she didn’t die by herself, with no one even realizing she was gone.
But I’ll remember her forever.
None of us can change her story, but we can work to change our own.
looking for lonely.