Dying Alone in New York: The Times Offers an Opinion

Hello, blue Monday!

The New York Times kicks off the week with an op-ed about dying alone.

Cheerful, right?

Anyway, author Kumiko Makihara recently moved to a big, sterile, anonymous high rise in the City, and doesn't yet know her neighbors or have a network of friends. Makihara has high blood pressure "and thus a greater chance than normal of having a stroke," prompting her latest fear: "dying alone and not being discovered for weeks."

Now, this might sound neurotic (we can tell because we're neurotic and would totally say something like this), but Makihara does make a very good point.

As Eric Klinenberg recently pointed out in Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, more than half of American adults are single. And 31 million -- or one in seven Americans -- live alone. At the same time, most of society is still arranged for nuclear family setups, creating difficulties in employment, housing, and healthcare for singletons.

In his book, Klinenberg IDs many more pros and cons of this trend. For many -- especially the infirm or elderly -- living alone can mean little to no socialization.

So, it only makes sense that some people might die without being noticed.

Yes, the grislier, highly publicized cases mentioned by Makihara are likely rarities, but the thing to take away from her op-ed and Klinenberg's book is that there are many more people living alone these days than before -- and that necessary safety nets are not always in place.

Follow Victoria Bekiempis @vicbekiempis.


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