Issue 2.10 – Loneliness

Hazel was enjoying moving about the community freely without any hassle from Ruby and her friends. In fact, the group had splintered off into smaller pairings, affording Hazel more opportunities to get to know the ladies and interact pleasantly with them. She was also grateful to have Millie’s company again, not only to help with gardening but to join her for both morning and afternoon tea. Charlie enjoyed time with his own group of friends, and Hazel had felt burdensome requesting more time with him when she was on her own. As much as she hated to admit it to herself, she was rather dependent on people’s companionship. She wasn’t one who liked to be alone for very long.

Hazel had thought a lot about that over the past few weeks…loneliness. Many of the ladies in the building lived by themselves. It was common for most of the residents to move-in upon the passing of their partner. Hazel had just been through a rough couple of weeks without friends and a busy husband. What was it like for some of the other ladies who didn’t have a partner at all? Millie, for instance, was one such woman. Hazel had often been tempted to ask how Millie was coping, but wasn’t sure how. Millie seemed cheerful enough, but Millie was the ever-optimist. If she was having a difficult time, you would never really know.

Hazel had also been thinking a lot about what people do when they are lonely. The series of events that led to Hazel’s own loneliness were because of a resident’s outburst and people’s reactions to that. Walter obviously wasn’t a fan of being alone as well. As Hazel had learned, Walter had lost his wife over six years ago. Since that time, he distracted himself with the company of an assortment of “lady friends,” and had earned a bit of a reputation because of it. Hazel witnessed his flirtatious behavior in many of the common areas. He was a gentleman about it, and most of the ladies he kept company with didn’t seem to mind the attention. In fact, all were pretty much aware that they were one of many companions. Traditionally, Hazel would have frowned on this sort of thing, but as she was learning, she lived in a building with a lot of very lonely people. Her neighbours needed a friend to chat with, a dinner companion, someone to hold their hand on occasion.

Loneliness was hard.

“What are you up to dear?,” Charlie said as he took a seat on the bench beside Hazel. “Nothing much, just doing some thinking,” Hazel replied. “Good thinking or bad thinking?” Charlie asked with a worried looked. “Just thinking thinking,” Hazel said with a slight grin. “I see. I was going to head out for a walk on this fine evening, and was hoping a pretty lady such as yourself might want to join me.” Hazel smiled up at Charlie. She was very lucky to have him. “That sounds nice.” She rose to take his hand and they made their way outside, the late afternoon sun dancing on the leaves of the lilac trees that lined the pathway. “I love you Charlie,” Hazel said softly. “I love you too, dear,” Charlie smiled.

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Often, couples do not have the opportunity to enjoy seniors living together. Many residents live on their own, and because of this, dynamics in a seniors community can be somewhat challenging. Loneliness is a major issue, and individuals will deal with it differently. Some might retreat into seclusion, reluctant to participate in social activities. Others might simply get through their days with a smile on their face, like Millie. Some people, similar to Walter and his lady friends, might seek companionship from multiple sources. It is important to understand the many faces of loneliness and what it might mean for the resident.

What are your thoughts on this week’s issue? We’d appreciate hearing from you below in the comments.

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