The scourge of loneliness has no age, gender, or particular type. Mostly, it affects the old and single people who for whatever reason find themselves living alone. This malady seems worse at specific occasions such as anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas or the funeral of once loved ones. Many elderly people from whatever background find themselves reminiscing on what has changed mostly for the worst. Divorce brings social devastation and if the betrayed partner doesn’t move on their are regrets for ever more. All the dreams of a shared home and a shared life are lost when a marriage goes sour.

Often, as time goes by, loneliness becomes a way of life. Your home might be the place where your head is laid, but memories often crowd the mind, of especially the elderly. There’s no clear path between, what is and what should/could have been. Relationships, between partners, children and extended families can be lost in the morass of loneliness. Lonely people aren’t easy company and soon, even family, make excuses not to visit or to make visits short. Lonely people want someone to listen to them so they can get it ‘out of their system’.

Loneliness is not the prerogative of the elderly. Nowadays even some young people can feel isolated. It’s unfortunate that many youngsters feel a loss of status, if they don’t have as many friends on ‘Facebook or Instagram’ as their school-friends. Proper eye-to-eye conversations with neighbours or friends is now being replaced by electronic gadgets. This should be seen as self-harming. Often you might see people on public transport appearing to be babbling, the tell-tale ear-plugs leading to mobile phones show how reliant on new technology they are. Even in the home computers take the place of personal contact with family. This is a very scary “Orwellian world”, where we live in cyber space like mutant human beings. The lack of stimulation of the mind may eventually lead to some very dark place where individual mental illness might become the norm. Unfortunately, help for loneliness is not seen as a priority. The more people become isolated without contact with others the more that isolation builds on itself. Sometime people in these circumstances might go weeks or months without any meaningful contact with others. Indeed, some might pretend to themselves that they prefer to be alone.

It is sad that many of the traditional places where people went to share common experiences, like libraries, night-school and pubs, are closing at a phenomenal rate, thus leaving the opportunity of contact with other people more vulnerable to exclusion. The fabric of society is changing and the lonely people are picking up the bill.


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