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A Contrarian’s View of Dying Alone: Guest Post by ‘Think Again’

a contrarian's view of dying alone[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.]

A Contrarian’s View of Dying Alone: Guest Post by ‘Think Again’

Bella DePaulo, Ph.D

Bella DePaulo (Ph.D., Harvard; Academic Affiliate, Psychological and Brain Sciences, UC Santa Barbara), an expert on single life, is the author of several books, including "Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After" and "How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century." Her TEDx talk is "What no one ever told you about people who are single," Dr. DePaulo has discussed singles and single life on radio and television, including NPR and CNN, and her work has been described in newspapers such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and magazines such as Time, Atlantic, the Week, More, the Nation, Business Week, AARP Magazine, and Newsweek. Dr. DePaulo is in her sixties. She has always been single and always will be. She is "single at heart" -- single is how she lives her best and most meaningful life. Visit her website at

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APA Reference
DePaulo, B. (2016). A Contrarian’s View of Dying Alone: Guest Post by ‘Think Again’. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 18, 2020, from


Last updated: 21 Sep 2016
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