I remember when my sister would see an older man or woman sitting alone. She and my mom would remark how sorry they felt for that elderly person dining by themselves. Maybe there was an energy surrounding them that reflected sadness.
Does there exist a lack of sadness for the thirty or forty year old who eats alone? Did an older person’s more-likely involuntary solitude beg for more empathy? Are younger people looked as having more resilience or is there a mentality out there that we are somehow defective or choose to be alone or fully content in our solitude?
I’ll say this: sometimes solitude is welcomed, even by this extrovert. Nowadays, we have the beauty of smart phones to give us the look of preoccupation in our aloneness. But sometimes the silence of solitude is so overwhelming that I ache from the lack of conversation.
I don’t want to be pitied for my solitude as my life is fairly full. But I wonder: does a person whose age is far greater deserve more empathy? Maybe so- especially if they just recently lost a spouse or partner. While sometimes the only option is eating alone, but do those of us who settle for solo meals sell ourselves short by settling for company-less dinners and lunches?
For faith communities: What can we do as a church so that solo people of all ages have the company they desire for more of their meals?