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Solitude and Loneliness among Our Silent Neighbors

I am 76 years old – a woman. I live alone except for my rescue cat Bertie – who like me has a past – best left alone. He is the light of my life.

I live in silence by preference and necessity. Silence has a musical quality about it -which is very much appreciated. One can stretch one’s thoughts unhindered by noise. I hate noise, it is very disturbing. It upsets the inner workings of your soul.

My apartment represents a garden full of flowers. I grew up with magnificent gardens in England. My place is almost devoid of tables and chairs except one for visitors and a camping chair for emergencies – beyond that you would have to come here equipped with your own chair. I also do not have an oven – this kind of apartment doesn’t come equipped with one – I also don’t have a washing machine or dryer. I wash everything by hand. Domestic work is very satisfying – It clears the mind.

Last Christmas I found a vegan turkey with all the trimmings. The only one at IGA. I was very excited about it. A proper Christmas meal. The first in almost thirty years!! I assumed I could cook it in the microwave – no way. It was only oven friendly. Fortunately, a wonderful neighbor took pity one me and offered to cook it in her oven and bring it to me Christmas morning. She has an oven – but no fridge – So giving her ice cream in the summer was quite something!

My day is punctuated with prayer. I see that as my vocation – Particularly for the dead. They cannot help themselves and rely upon us for intercession. Prayer is a response to life. And beyond. Old people like me are particularly favored to do this – We have the time.

Books are my best friends. There one can be transported through time – enter portals of mystery – meet the authors – unhindered by space. No words exchanged. A silent communication. It is the most thrilling of activities.

You dear reader are always in my thoughts and prayers.

Especially and particularly when I recite the universal prayer. Actually, we are never alone – we all have a guardian angel, recognized or not – just adjust your inner sight to your surroundings – and to quote from Julian of Norwich – a 13th century anchoress – All shall be well and all shall be well. Love is the meaning of it all.

As visitors leave my apartment there is a notice on the wall – that says – All visitors must be approved by the cat.

Your silent neighbour Elizabeth


Among seniors 75 years and older the proportion of women is 59.8%. [Prud'Homme, 2018]. This proportion rises to 70.2% for seniors aged 85 and over, and for centenarians, to 91%. Moreover, in the Montreal region 45% of women aged 65 and over live alone. Therefore, a large majority of seniors over 75 years of age living in the Montreal area are women who live alone.

Prud'Homme, Karine (2018). « Seules ensemble : exploration des liens sociaux de femmes du grand âge habitant seules » Mémoire. Montréal (Québec, Canada), Université du Québec à Montréal, Maîtrise en travail social.


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