Years ago, my wife and I bought a bungalow to retire in.
When she died, I would spend my days going from room to room looking for her, so eventually I moved and gave myself a new routine - just me and my bus pass. Now that’s all gone.
It takes me until Easter to recover from Christmas. I never see a soul. I won’t pretend it’s not difficult, not having someone there to celebrate with. I have no children and a sister who lives far away. We see each other less and less. My birthday’s in January too, so it’s just months of misery.
Last Christmas was the best one I’ve had in years. I was in hospital so that might sound a bit strange, but it was the first time in ages that I’d spent the day surrounded by people. Six male strangers in a ward together and all the hospital staff saying ‘Merry Christmas!’ to everyone. I’ll never forget it.
All dressed up and nowhere to go
I didn’t want to have another Christmas wondering what to do with myself, so I’d booked myself a holiday. It was meant to be a coach trip and hotel stay, with tea dances and group dinners off the coast, I was really looking forward to it. But I am in the high risk group and with all the COVID restrictions, I’ve had to cancel it.
I’m a bit ‘all dressed up and nowhere to go’, you know? I only go out once or twice a week and during the first lockdown, I never went out at all. During the summer, they suspended most of the buses along my route into the town centre. There were only reduced services for people going to work. Even though the buses are running now, there’s very few. I’m out in the sticks and it gets dark so quickly, so I spend most of my time indoors.
The tea parties were really wonderful. Meeting new people, having a chat that went beyond the usual 'hello'. I looked forward to them every month. I'm hoping the virus goes away soon so that they can start again. I miss them very much.
I just wanted a friend
I don’t really know what my Christmas looks like. It’s lonely and cold this time of year. It’s fine if you’ve got family nearby but I’ve got no one. It just feels endless. I clean the house to keep busy, try to find something to do but I just go days on end without seeing anyone.
Before all this, I’d say I was quiet but I just wanted a friend. Not a partner or anything, a friend. Someone to have a meal with, go to the pictures with. Now I don’t know what’s going to happen.
For older people like John already struggling with loneliness and isolation, this year has been devastating.
This Christmas, give the gift of friendship and support our Big Give Christmas appeal. With your help, we can reach more older people across the UK and provide regular companionship to those who need it most.
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