A Modern Disease Called Loneliness
Col Stringer

Col Stringer

A policeman on the morning show on TV today related this story that really impacted me. We live in a very lonely world, many have few or no ‘true friends’.

The story was also published on the Northern Beaches (Sydney, Australia) Police website:

LIFE IS A TEAM GAME. ELDERLY COUPLE FOUND DECEASED.

“A fiercely independent elderly couple have been found dead in their home at Palm Beach earlier today. Both in their eighties, the husband was the carer for his life long partner who was blind and had other disabilities. The couple consistently refused aged care assistance and medical support but were coping with their challenges. Closest next of kin lived overseas.

“Although yet to be confirmed by autopsies, we believe the husband has passed away naturally, unfortunately leaving the wife with no means of support. She has subsequently died due to a lack of care.

“Whilst we believe there are no suspicious circumstances this is an opportunity to reflect on this tragedy and think about our elderly parents and neighbours and what we can do as a community and as individuals to prevent a recurrence of this terrible event. So just for twenty minutes, time to put down those iphones and ipads, and hold back the selfies and making friends with people you don’t know, and have a real conversation with your elderly neighbour who is living a simple life devoid of all electronic gadgets that contribute little to real community cohesion.”

“Life is a Team Game.”

A Modern Disease Called Loneliness.

Do you know one of the most deadly diseases in our modern cities? It’s called ‘loneliness’. It’s called ‘alienation’. It’s called ‘having nobody’; living in a crowded city and not relating to a single person. It’s called ‘sitting down at the telephone and having no one to call’. It’s called ‘waiting knowing that the doorbell will not ring’. It’s called ‘looking at people on a crowded train and never seeing a face that cares for you’. It’s called ‘walking around the city streets, not knowing where you’re going or why you are going there’. It’s called ‘being loved only by a cat’. That’s the modern disease called loneliness.

Today we have more people living alone than at any time in history. There is a massive increase in single-parent families. As marriages break down, many decide not to take another chance on being hurt and decide to live alone. If you live for self you will die alone! Don’t wait until you are dying to reach out to others. Do it while you are still alive! We have many people who come to the end their of their lives with all the ‘toys’, but no one to play with! When you entered this world you were crying and everyone else was smiling – just make sure you don’t leave it the same way!

Readers Digest September 2002 carried an article entitled ‘Why Friends Are Powerful Medicine’. Author Katherine Griffin wrote: “Friendships…..play a far more important role in maintaining good health and having a long life than most people realise.’

Shelley Taylor, a research psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, writes: ‘Social ties are the cheapest medicine we’ve got.’

More than a hundred studies attest to the health benefits of friendship. People with strong social networks are shown to:

* Boost their chances of surviving life-threatening illness
* Have stronger, more resilient immune systems
* Improve their mental health
* Live longer than people without social support

Everyone needs friends; it’s the strongest desire of the human heart. Having friends means when trouble strikes, fewer stress hormones course through the body. Blood pressure and heart rate are less likely to spike, and over a lifetime these differences add protection against the ravages of time and illness.

The Bible has a lot to say about real friendship or real ‘mateship’. This is what we all want: a friend that sticks closer than a brother. That’s a rare person today, a real jewel. It’s a great blessing to have real a ‘mate’, people who have been with you through all of life’s ebbs and flows, someone who knows how you tick, someone who is there for you in good times and bad. They are rare in today’s ‘it’s all about me’ society.

This is an extract from ‘The Value of True Friends’. Image courtesy Gabriel Barletta, Freely Photos