sometimes is something we have all experienced but the rise in the number of people who say they "often" feel lonely is disturbing.
I am not sure how the "loneliness" research is conducted but I can well believe that there is a rise in "loneliness". The Covid lock downs showed us how vulnerable many people are. The latest figures from something called "United Communities" suggest that around two-thirds of the population feels lonely often enough for it to be of concern.
Even people who appear to have family and friends can feel lonely. Middle Cat admitted to me recently that, without her two cats, she can feel lonely. Middle Cat is married, has two children and a wide circle of friends and acquaintances - far more than I have - but she has been in and out of hospital recently. She is still in a lot of pain. Doing anything has been an effort. It all makes a difference to the amount of social contact she has. "It must be like this for many very old people," she said.
I can only agree with her. Many of the loneliest people I know are elderly people in aged care. They are surrounded by other people but they are lonely. All the "activities" do not make up for a quiet one-on-one conversation with someone they know.
"Working from home" can cause similar issues. It is all very well to suggest people get more done but does the lack of social contact actually reduce their efficiency? I suspect it might in some cases. If people are not mixing at work then are they also less aware, less tolerant?
Not so long ago the dates for the local library knitting group were going to be changed from regular meeting times to irregular meeting times. The person who made the suggested change did it with the best of intentions I am sure but I had to say, "It won't work. People won't remember irregular dates and the group is too important for it to cease." I pointed out that what mattered was the social contact. There are people who come along just for that. G... and I might do some teaching. We will help people who come to get help and don't come back because other things get in the way. There are other people however who come on a regular basis. One woman came for a long time and admitted to me that the group saved her from suicide. She has since moved interstate to be closer to her only family. I wondered how she was coping but she contacted me with a Christmas note to say she had started a new group at her new local library. The library dates have been returned to their regular fourth Saturday of the month.
I am someone who is fortunately able to entertain myself but company is nice to have occasionally. It was good to have G... visit for a few hours on Thursday. We had a sandwich together. She is a talented and able craft person and she brought some "show and tell", returned two books she had borrowed and borrowed two more. We talked about the library group and whether we might do another group Christmas tree in two years for the Christmas Tree Festival. It wasn't a matter of "going out" or "spending money". All we did was enjoy the company of each other...and it was a good excuse not to do some clearing out!'
I don't want a constant round of social activities. There are many times when I simply want to be able to get on with other things but I know I need to make the effort to make contact with other people. I need to make sure I give other people the gift of time and attention to them so that they feel as if they are worth something. I need to listen to them. Failure to do that is selfish and will do me no good at all.
If I have any sort of New Year's resolution it will be to try and do more to keep in touch with the people I know. Most of us do not make good hermits.