[Bella’s intro: There are so many things wrong with the scare story served up to single people about how they will die alone. But that particular threat seems to have some real staying power, so it needs to be challenged over and over again. Someone I have long admired wrote a particularly insightful challenge and gave me permission to share it with you here. She does not want me to use her name, so I’m going to refer to her as ‘Think Again.”
Today marks the beginning of Unmarried and Single Americans Week, and this thoughtful essay is a great way to get it started.]
A Contrarian’s View of Dying Alone: Guest Post by ‘Think Again’
Dying alone: This strikes me more as a fear that married people have for singles than we have for ourselves. Someone hears a story somewhere about the body of a single person that isn’t found for days or even weeks, and the question posed to happily single people like me is, “but what if you die alone?”
I have a few thoughts on this.
First of all, statistically, the majority of married women outlive their husbands so even if I did get married, there’s absolutely no guarantee that I wouldn’t end up dying alone anyway.
Second, if I’m dead, then what the heck do I care if my remains stink up the place for a few days before I’m found? I mean, I doubt it’ll happen, but so what if it did? I’m planning on donating my body to science anyway, I don’t want a burial, so I lose nothing if that happens. (Kinda feel bad for those that have to deal with me, but that completely falls under “not my problem.”)
Finally, I think that it’s actually harder on the dying to never be left alone. I had the experience of getting to spend time at a loved one’s bedside before they passed, and I am so grateful I got the chance to say goodbye. But she didn’t die until her daughter left the room. After that experience, I’ve heard that some wait until their loved ones are not so close before they let themselves go. It happened again recently with a family member, who was finally allowed a few minutes without someone holding her hand. Both these people had been suffering, asleep without food for days, and knew their time had come. While of course, nothing can take away the sting of that loss, there is some relief in knowing a loved one is no longer suffering.
I hope that my children are at my bedside, and they have a chance to say good-bye, but I don’t want either of them to feel the pressure of holding my hand 24/7 until my time comes. I don’t want any of us to have to suffer through that for any longer than necessary.
No matter when it happens, I will know that I am loved. No matter where I am, if I’m alone or surrounded by strangers, it doesn’t change what’s in my heart, and what’s in the hearts of those I love.
I don’t really understand the fear of dying alone. And I think it’s a fear that should die.
[From Bella: Thank you, ‘Think Again,’ for sharing this with us. And Happy Singles Week to all single people.]