Sunday, October 18, 2015

Dying alone

The New York Times had one of those long-form journalism pieces this weekend that remind you why they are THE New York Times. "The Lonely Death of George Bell" by N.R. Kleinfield is a story that will stay with you long after you've read it. Incredibly sad -- but wonderful writing, a great piece of detective work, both by the writer and by the government officials trying to learn more about George Bell's life and relationships. As several commenters noted, it's somewhat ironic that such a private and reclusive man who lived and died in solitude is being eulogized so publicly. On the front page of the Sunday New York Times, no less!!

Dying alone is something that I think a lot of childless people fear -- although I'm sure it happens to plenty of people with children, too. I'm not especially afraid of dropping dead suddenly of a heart attack or in my sleep (because hey, I'm never going to know, right?), but the idea of becoming ill or incapacitated in some way and unable to call for help does bother me a bit. Although dh has promised me that he will haunt the nephews if I am left by myself and they don't look in on me regularly. ;) 

It's a sobering reminder about the importance of human relationships and staying in touch with the people who mean something to us. (And that goes for all of us, whether we have children or not.)


  1. I saw the headline but haven't had a chance to read the piece yet.

    I think it's an important point: that we are all responsible for putting out the effort with our relationships and all have the possibility of dying alone; no matter if you have living children or not. That children are not a guarantee of having people there for you in the future.

    And then there are the people who do such a wonderful nurturing job that you still miss them long after they're gone. I miss my grandmother daily, but we were in Philadelphia this weekend for the first time since Josh's grandmother died. And I realized just how much I miss her, too. I miss the rhythm of going up to visit her every few weeks.

    1. Admittedly, this man did turn away people who came to his door and didn't answer his phone when they called. But I think we still need to try, regardless.

  2. I saw this piece yesterday when it popped up on my Facebook newsfeed but finally took the time to read it tonight. To die alone is so sad. But it does give me hope that there are people working so hard behind the scenes that settle estates of people like this.

    I think about this topic more than I should. Once we knew that kids weren't in the cards for us I made hubs promise that we could move into one of those senior communities where you have your own apartment but they cook all of the meals and have activities when we get old so we would have people to help us if we got sick since we don't (and probably won't ever) live close to any family.

    I really think you hit the nail on the head when you wrote about the importance of maintaining relationships. This is so important. I also suck at it.

  3. A friend posted this in her FB feed. I too found it sad, but at the same time extraordinarily interesting all the detective work that people put into the process after a death such as his. Hubby and I haven't got to the point of living out in the county in solitude where this could become an issue for one of us. Right now we have fabulous neighbor's who would check on us.