Imposed Loneliness

A peculiar and misunderstood word, loneliness. Unfortunately, it affects us all. And it’s particularly poignant during this difficult time as many of us are impacted by the pandemic. We all have, or know of loved ones who are now alone, isolated out of concern from contracting the Corona virus.

While most of us are pretty handy with the latest smart phones, tablets or computers, many of the elderly – particularly those of the previous generation (pre baby boomers) – aren’t as fortunate. Whether from disinterest, fear of technology or perhaps lacking that guiding hand, they are ever more alone, relegated to the telephone, hoping for that phone call or timely visit.

My thoughts go to my mother-in-law, Serafina, now in her 80s. She fits that criteria so well. All her life she dedicated herself to raising her family, providing the essentials and rarely thinking about herself. She had established a predictable, routine long ago: cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry, raising her small children and much more. But now, many years later, widowed and living alone in senior’s housing, the pandemic has robbed her of the little that she did have. She no longer socializes with her friends, the phone calls come less often, even family visits are less frequent.

We need to step up and take a step back. Sounds weird, I know, but what I mean is we need to take another look and put things in perspective. We need to see it from her point of view. Serafina loves to talk and be the center of attention. That’s who she is, a social butterfly. Not that easy to do over the phone when you’re hard of hearing. She’s not that eloquent, and her Italian accent and her limited English clearly present obstacles. Still, she’s family and wants (needs) to be heard. She craves that interaction, and during these difficult times, it’s incumbent of us not to forget who the government calls, ‘the most vulnerable’.

My part as son-in-law is clear. Even though I can get caught up in my own routine, I still need to take the time for visiting her, bringing a meal or cajoling her into a short walk, weather permitting. My wife and I have stepped up to the plate. We buy her enough, healthy food, supply her with the right medication, and ensure she keeps her medical appointments.

It’s the least we can do for someone who has done so much for us.  

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