Can I ask you some questions?
Why, when we grow up, do we move out from our family home and then go and buy or rent a house in a street full of complete strangers, sometimes many miles from our loved ones? When did this practice start, why and to what benefit?
As a teenager, I too grew up, moved out and lived away from my family. Because it was the done thing. The thing everyone else did. I never questioned it and even now, many years later, I still live away from family. But why?
I have elderly neighbours where I live now. One in particular, in his eighties, has a host of medical conditions yet, despite his many healthy challenges, he has a cheery, welcoming disposition and a great sense of humour. From speaking with him many times, I understand that his children and grandchildren do not ‘have the time’ to visit him all that often. Perhaps once every few months for an hour or so they pop in to see him. This despite them living fifteen minutes away in a car. I’m not judging here, just making an observation. They don’t have the time? Really? My neighbour is lonely and has told me that, of all the things he suffers from, isolation and loneliness is his greatest pain. If he hasn’t hurt his children in the past, damaging their relationship, and if his children love him, why is this situation occurring? Why don’t they come and see him more regularly? Will he die alone, lonely and lost, with his body found days after his passing?
Why don’t we live with our families or at least close to them?
Maybe in the same street for example? I appreciate that for some of us we couldn’t think of anything worse but if you truly love your mum, dad, brother, sister, cousin, granddaughter….wouldn’t it make sense to be as close to them as possible?
I imagine a family living side by side, each with their own separate house in the same street. Practically, this might not be possible because of existing house owners, but I can dream, right? The children would be watched over by many loving eyes, the elderly would be taken of and family could share time together. There would be support, face-to-face time, conversation, love, laughter and there would be real community. Not to say an increased sense of safety and connection. Blood with blood, loving one another, protecting each other.
Instead of that I see people who are away from their families. People that don’t even speak to their neighbours. People who avoid eye contact. People that go to work in jobs they often don’t like, travelling distance every day with a sad face to earn money for rent on a flat which they spend their evenings in sat lonely and lost. How sad.
Why? What’s gone wrong? I’m asking.
Loneliness is a killer
In August 2017 the American Psychological Association presented research based on two meta-analyses. The first examined 148 studies involving 300,000 participants and found that increased social connectedness was linked to a whopping 50 percent lower risk of premature death. The other study, examining 3.4 million people across 70 different studies, revealed that social isolation, loneliness, or living alone has as significant or equal an effect on premature mortality as obesity and other major risk factors. It is time to take our own loneliness – and that of those around us – seriously.