The original news story is from 2013, and I admit I was unaware of it. On the other hand, there is something positive in seeing that something as tragic as this can spur activity and solutions in the Netherlands to deal with loneliness and the lack of social connection:
The discovery of a woman in her home, years after she had died, inspired a national campaign in the Netherlands to combat loneliness. A decade on and there are a huge number of schemes inspired by the same idea – that everyone should have a place in society. On 21 November 2013, the body of a 74-year-old woman was found at her home in Rotterdam. She had been dead for 10 years. The woman was called Bep de Bruin. Born in what was the Dutch East Indies, she moved to the Netherlands as a teenager. She became isolated after experiencing an early trauma, breaking off contact with her only child. So when Bep died sometime in 2003, no one realised. Her state pension automatically went into her bank account, while her rent was taken out. Bep’s body was only discovered after gas engineers needed access to her flat. Police pushed past a mountain of post, which later helped them work out when she had died. The event galvanised the city into action.
It’s a shame that it took something so tragic, and I would hope that we could see the problem we currently have with personal connections and loneliness without the need for such an extremely sad event, but I’m afraid we have small tragedies happening around us every day. We just don’t know about them.
Please read what the Dutch have been attempting to do and consider how you could implement something similar in your own communities and within your own social circles. Let’s make sure we are staying in touch with the people in our lives and lowering the number of people around us who are lonely.