Alone - it's an awful word.
I meet people often who spend day in, day out alone. Some are fortunate to have a pet but most can't because it's not affordable or they live in a rooming house that does not allow it.
I know them well. They participate in support groups that I facilitate for those suffering from mental illness. They have lost their mental health, jobs, financial independence, in some cases their entire family support, their friends, their pride, their dignity and inevitably themselves.
These are the people you see on the "side lines" when you go about your every day routines. They are sitting alone in cafes nursing a cup of coffee and a muffin while reading or writing hoping that someone will look their way and perhaps smile or say hello.
They are the ones walking - always walking because it's free and it takes up time and they have no where else to go and nothing else to do.
They are also the ones who may look as if they are staring right past you but they aren't staring at all, they are looking for someone that is no longer there.
They may appear as if they are lost and in a daze; their eyes faded and dull. That's because they are on medication much like someone with Diabetes who is on insulin or someone with Crohn's who is on steroids except their medication is for their brain - their brain is sick.
Have you ever tried to work or think or do anything with a sick brain? It's tough, it's scary and unpredictable because there are all these loose wires that hiss and sting and send shock waves through the tunnels that deliver thoughts, decisions, feelings and pain.
No one should have to be alone. Of all the many causes, runs, walks and cocktail fundraisers, where is the one for "being alone?"
If you know someone - a co-worker, neighbour, relative or anyone that is alone, do something for me - will ya - invite them out for a coffee, a meal, a movie. Give them some of your time and offer up your friendship. You can do that - you can give them a hand up and it doesn't take much. You talk to all sorts of people all day long. You have your friends, your family, your partner, your dog - aren't you lucky?
This week marks the Jewish New Year. I'm heading out to run a support group tonight and I intend to invite anyone who wishes to join me and my family for our "Rosh Hashanah" dinner.
It's not out of pity, it's out of decency and it's because "I can and I want to and so I will".
And if it gets them out of their room in a boarding house or basement apartment or parents home where the parents are becoming so old that they worry who will be there for their child - their grown child - then that is worth it one hundred times over.
There is nothing as lonely as being alone and there is nothing as loud as silence.