I read this morning on my trusty BBC News app that the last taboo is loneliness.
There we are in our teens with (usually) our parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends all alive and well. The majority of us then go on to create our own families in our twenties, and are busy juggling the demands of a family with work commitments. There is no time to feel lonely.
In our thirties our children are growing up, and the house is full of their friends. Even though our grandparents may die in our thirties, we still have busy lives. We mourn them, remember good times, and carry on carrying on.
By the time we reach our late forties and early fifties, our children may have left home. Our parents are ageing and might have already passed away; likewise our aunts and uncles. Our immediate family is growing smaller. However, our children have their own busy lives now, and may have presented us with a grandchild or two to fuss over and love. When parents, aunts and uncles are here no more, we become the older generation.
We are retired in our seventies, eighties and nineties. Our children and grandchildren may have moved far away, and therefore visits might be few and far between. Life partners, family members and friends may begin to pass away, one after the other. Our mobility might be compromised, causing us to become housebound. Sometimes the end result might be that the only person we get to speak to every day is the carer, who comes in to do our shopping and housework.
And so it comes to pass that we sit in our doorway or stand for as long as we can manage at our garden gate, hoping that somebody might come past so that we can have a good old chat. There are a couple of lonely elderly folk in our village who do just that, and if I’m passing I will let them talk nineteen to the dozen at me, because I know they are desperate for human contact and have not spoken to anybody all day.
Nobody likes to admit they are lonely. There’s something sad in having to reveal that not a soul phones or comes to visit, and there must be thousands if not millions of lonely old people all struggling on. A previously vibrant, busy person can sink into depression and maybe even dementia if they are housebound and are the type who thrive on conversation and human interaction. Of course there are some who don’t like other people at all and are happy in their own company. These are the people who will enjoy their old age, and all I can say is good luck to them!