First published 23/12/06. Edited for 2007.
Christmas is an incredibly lonely time for many people. Unlike any other time of the year the world seems to stop spinning and everything comes to a halt. In this country at least, this includes mental health services. This is just too much to cope with for some people; just knowing that no one is there for them if they need someone can cause an increase in anxiety. (See this news article)
Traditionally, it is a time for family and friends to come together. But some people don’t have any family. Many will be remembering lost loved ones, and some will be grieving new losses. Elderly ones in particular may have lost their spouses, siblings, and friends. Sick ones may struggle to form lasting friendships. For all of these ones, knowing that others are enjoying the company of people they love and who love them can make them feel more isolated than ever.
"The Silent Night" by Philippa King
For some people, going to the shops each day provides the human contact that everyone needs. But the shops are closed. I know people with mental health difficulties who wander around town all day, preferring the company of strangers than no company at all. How will it be for those ones when the town centre is completely deserted? When there is no one on that bench to chat to; no playing children to laugh at; no struggling mothers to joke with?
This weekend people may be writing a list of all their final arrangements, or their last minute shopping needs. Why not write a list of people who you know live alone? Maybe they’re elderly ones; maybe they have an illness of one kind or another. Maybe give them a ring just to show that they’re not forgotten. Maybe pop round for a cuppa and take them a slice of cake. At the very least you may just make someones day. Or you could even save a life. Maybe.