Naturally, there’s no way to measure this, but I wonder how many people get married partly because they don’t want to die alone.
Until a few years ago, it was difficult for me to understand why anyone would actually get married based on this reason, because I was projecting my preferences–I’m not someone who will ever get married just to avoid loneliness.
However, having experienced a decent dose of loneliness as I’ve grown into an almost middle-aged single person, I can now say I get it. Completely. I still won’t ever marry someone just to avoid being alone, but now I respect the power of loneliness in a way I never did before.
We don’t want to live alone–not really, even if we recluse at times–and dying alone is a formidable extension of that. But you’re not going to die alone because you’re single!
I recently saw the movie The Intern, and there’s this scene in which Anne Hathaway breaks down, expressing how she’s devastated by problems in her relationship but she doesn’t want to die alone.
It was like an “off” switch for my emotional investment. This is no critique of the movie or her performance, just an interesting reaction. I was like, “Really? Really…?!”
Here’s this intelligent if flawed woman building a business empire. She’s surrounded by people. I mean, what is it that makes people think in terms of a single person or relationship as the defining touchpoint at time of death?
It’s really odd!!!
You’re not going to die alone! You’re going to have a life full of people, one way or another–single or not single.
There’s something really kooky and even depressing about only finding peace in a specific martial status at time of death. If you think about it, only 50% of any couple will get to experience that, for example! The other person will have what?–sn assurance that once upon a time they weren’t single? And will that person feel more or less lonely dying without their significant other than I will, if I never have one?
You see what I mean? This all turns to nonsense pretty quickly. It’s pretty much a non-issue if you think about it for more than that first emotional minute!
But in both our cases, guess what? We’ll have friends, family, and who knows who else right there with us–and that’s assuming a tidy hospital or home death. A significant number of people literally die alone, as in, without anyone by them: you know, accidents or tragedies. That makes it an even odder sentiment on the literal level, to talk in terms of “dying alone”.
At the end of the day, in death as in life, every person has a common presence beside them, always: Jesus Christ. So, am I afraid I’m going to die alone? No. I used to be! But one has to examine things like this to decrypt the underlying emotional response and decide against reacting to those fears. I remain annoyed that I’m living alone when I don’t see any real reason why it has to be this way, but I’m not terrified that I’ll die alone if I don’t compromise on finding someone I actually love and respect.
You’re not going to die alone, I’m not going to die alone, and Anne Hathaway’s character isn’t going to die alone. You’re going to die with the love and comfort of Christ, just like everybody else. Death is a great equalizer, not yet another “couples club” where you’re going to feel like an outsider.
So there you go. Happy Halloween and do not fear the reaper. Christ has won the victory over this fear, as in all things surrounding death.