“My mom passed away suddenly when I was 22. My whole world fell into pieces that day. We had a very strong bond; she was my best friend and the only person that I could have a sensible chat with and whose advice always made sense to me. Her death was so shocking that I broke down into a debilitating and very dark depression which I could never really recover from. Years later, when things were starting to get a little better, I lost my father too. We didn’t have a terribly good relationship, but he was the only one in my life, so losing him was the beginning of my loneliest years. I spent 27 years living alone. I never got married. I suppose I never found the right man but ending up alone frightened the life out of me. I spent so many years sitting right in front of this window hoping for a visitor or the phone to ring. I cherished every single Christmas card I ever received. I used to order things I didn’t need just to have a short chat with the delivery men. That’s how lonely I was. I had heard stories of ALONE on the radio and, one day, I decided to ring them. They sent somebody to interview me, and a few weeks later they got me a volunteer. She visited me once a week for an hour for years. That one-hour visit became the highlight of my week. I loved it because it was something to look forward to. I’ve gotten a wonderful friendship out of that and she still visits me regularly.
“From those visits I got the confidence to apply for a loan to renovate my house. I had a plan to rent out the rooms upstairs that I didn’t use. This decision was a turning stone in my life. I ended up renting them to the most wonderful and lovely people. I have to say that the past four-five years were the happiest since my mother died. Today, the simplest things make me happy, like the joy of the little noises in the house; the entrance door opening and closing, the chatting upstairs, somebody cooking in the kitchen. There was this lovely lad here from Roscommon. He would come in at the end of the day and ask me if I wanted to go for a walk with him. To know that they are here if I need help and that there is someone to check on me is truly priceless. This house is alive once again! I advise any elderly person living alone to get someone from ALONE to visit them regularly and if they have some free space, do the same: Get your house in order, give life to your home and yourself once again!”
Loneliness impacts the lives of thousands of older people across Ireland every day. Last year, ALONE received more than 20,000 calls from older people nationwide.
Loneliness impacts our physical and mental health. Since the COVID pandemic, rates of loneliness have increased for older people.
This International Friendship Day, you can help ALONE to continue its life-changing work. Donate to ALONE by visiting www.alone.ie/donateP
ALONE are currently looking for volunteers in areas nationwide. You can find out more or sign up to volunteer with ALONE on www.alone.ie/volunteers