I’m not someone who suffers loneliness. Even as a child, I loved to be on my own and would spend hours in quiet play (despite being one of eight children). I’ve always had a rich inner world, so haven’t ‘needed’ external witnesses.
And yet, I really feel the pain of loneliness in others. Oftentimes, when I’m town and I see an elderly person sitting in a café, with loneliness written all over them, I give them my brightest smile and try to warm their day. In the process, I’m doing everything I can to hold back the tears of pain. Their pain. Somehow, it ends up in my body. Empathy.
Christmas, for me, is a time of simplicity and immediate family. It’s a time to cocoon ourselves away from the world and be nestled in each other’s love. However, there have been many Christmases over the years that Paul and I have opened our home and hearts to friends who we knew would otherwise be on their own. And this Christmas will be one of those. You see, loneliness isn’t just the preserve of the elderly. It can strike anyone, of any socio-economic class and of any age.
There is a world of difference between being alone and being lonely. If you do know someone who is lonely, why not reach out your hand in friendship or support? It only takes a moment but it can make all the difference.
In my childhood home, my mum had several quotes on the kitchen wall which I’d read every day while eating my meals. This was one of them:
A smile cost nothing, but gives much.
It enriches those who receive,
without making poorer those who give.
It takes but a moment,
but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.
None is so rich or mighty that he can get along without it, and none is so poor but that he can be made rich by it.
A smile creates happiness in the home,
fosters good will in business,
and is the countersign of friendship.
It brings rest to the weary,
cheer to the discouraged,
sunshine to the sad,
and is nature’s best antidote for trouble.
Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen,
for it is something that is of no value to anyone
until it is given away.
Some people are too tired to give you a smile.
Give them one of yours,
as none needs a smile so much as he who has no more to give.
There is currently a campaign to raise awareness of loneliness. This is both inspiring and sad. How far have we humans become removed from our tribal roots?
I urge you, in amongst the Christmas hustle and bustle, to spare a thought, or a minute, or a cup of coffee or bunch of flowers for someone who is weary with loneliness. It will enrich both of your lives.
With love, Veronika xxxxxxx