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  • No Man is an Island

  • ‘No man is an island,
    Entire of itself,
    Every man is a piece of the continent,
    A part of the main’.

    The opening stanza to the poem by English poet John Donne reminds us in a nutshell that we all belong to a society.  We exist in a context, with and among others.  However, notwithstanding that we are part of a society, a family, a group or otherwise, there are still some who feel that they are very much alone.

    From the very beginning of life, a baby needs contact with others in order to develop the attachment that helps him/her to continue to grow and feel safe.  Children who are deprived of this basic need are known to fail to thrive, having serious difficulties, some also dying.  Connecting to and being with others is in itself an instinct for survival.  

    When looking around us, we need not look far and wide to identify the lonely and isolated.   Sometimes it could be someone in our own family, someone at work, or our neighbourhood.  However, being alone and being lonely are two different things altogether.  Being alone can be a matter of choice at times, where a person enjoys his/her own company, it refers more to what is physical.  Feeling lonely on the other hand is about the emotions that are connected to feeling that there is nobody there to turn to.  It is not the first time I have heard a lonely person say just how painful and awful this can be, to the extent that at times it becomes inconceivable to think of.  The very thought that if something were to happen, or if someone were to drop dead they are totally on their own is most probably dreaded by most if not all.

    With life becoming faster by the minute, everyone is always rushed to catch up, or do so many different things, that it is easier to miss making true contact with others around us.  We often hear of children from a young age having all their time heavily taken up by busy schedules to fit in as many activities as possible into each day.  Do we stop for a minute to evaluate whether there has been any time for actual contact with others?  The risk of filling in so much, keeping so busy, possibly implies not being present enough to be with others in a way that merits contact and builds good quality relationships that sustain the individual.  Perhaps this is indeed part of the reason why more and more people feel so alone.  So, when we next look at how to fill up our time, we might best take a moment to reflect on how best to make quality of the time in relationship with others.  

    Besides reflecting on our own busy-ness, and that of our families, we might try to reach out to those who are mostly alone.  With these the elderly, disabled, separated and widowed would be just a few.  Yet it may also be a person we work with, a neighbour, a class-mate!  It may be helpful to know that counselling also helps people who feel alone, at times enhancing the individual’s skills and self-esteem to enable the person to take necessary steps to move out of the solitude. 

    Cana Counselling Services is able to offer such help and can be reached on 22039300/315.

    Ingrid Grech Lanfranco

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