January 25, 2018

"The general concept of family in Japan has fallen apart. The overall number of people who are alone is growing..."

"... so it’s inevitable that the number of people dying without anyone’s support is also growing.... Their ties are all related to their work, so [when they retire] it’s hard for them to jump into the local community... It’s so easy for them to fall into self-neglect and become isolated, and there’s nobody to stop that from happening."

Said Masaki Ichinose, of the Center for Life and Death Studies at the University of Tokyo, quoted in "CLEANING UP AFTER THE DEAD/As family dynamics change in Japan, more people are living by themselves — and dying alone" in The Washington Post (replete with descriptions and photographs depicting the living spaces of those whose dead bodies were discovered long after they died).

The second-highest-rated comment is: "A company that cleans up after dead people is named 'Next.' I know death comes for all of us, but that seems pretty cold." That gets the response "Time to fill that space with the next tenant."

36 comments:

Danno said...

The world's ultimate "quirky alones".

Danno said...

This also says a lot about one's career being only a part of your success in life. If it results in no family or friends, it is pretty sad.

MadisonMan said...

It doesn't seem like the story fits the premise of the article. The deceased wasn't old -- he was 54 -- and was divorced.

Obviously, the solution is for the Government to do something. This is such a crisis!!

Carol said...

Obviously Japan needs to bring in more immigrants to keep the oldsters company. Because foreigners care so much.

Well, maybe for pay.

Bay Area Guy said...

It takes work to end up being alone in this world. Yes, maybe the person is shy, or socially awkward, and would like to have friends or a family, and has tried and failed.

But often the stark reality is that the person is self-absorbed and stubborn in their own little world, doesn't reach out to people, doesn't acknowledge it when folks reach out to them.

In other words, loneliness is often a choice. A bad choice, in my view, but a choice nonetheless.

Owen said...

Robots for old folks. Keeps them going, records and reports their demise, cleans their space for next occupant. Win-win.

gerry said...

The destruction of the nuclear family was a major goal of Progressives.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Wow - when a society devalues the family relative to other aspects of life, there are negative consequences to that society!! Could never have seen that one coming!!

rhhardin said...

Cats are the answer.

Dogs guard the body, cats eat it.

traditionalguy said...

What happened to companion pets? Did the Japs eat all their cats? A Koi Pond seems cold.

MadisonMan said...

A Koi Pond seems cold

This time of year, it is.

Ann Althouse said...

It's almost too much of a cliché to point out these 2 things, but:

1. You can be lonely while living with other people.

2. Solitude is not the same thing as loneliness.

How dare the living pass judgment on a person who happened to die while living alone? Maybe he wanted peace and quiet. Maybe he was in a transition phase of life. But, yes, it creates a risk that it will be while before your body is discovered, and the cleanup problem is bad, though not for the one who died.

When a person dies with others around, we hear the cliché "he died surrounded by family and friends." He's not around to refute this characterization, but maybe he didn't like these people at all and maybe they were interfering with his ability to reflect in silence or to commune with God.

Remember Larry David on his death bed.

Owen said...

Robot system would include bracelet to detect/record pulse and BP. Like a FitBit, but to track cessation of activity. Call it the QuitBit.

alan markus said...

This is a case I have a hard time forgetting:

Michigan woman's auto-payments hid her death for over 5 years

Meade said...

Tibetan sky burial.

Henry said...

"A company that cleans up after dead people is named 'Next.' I know death comes for all of us, but that seems pretty cold."

NeXT would be cold. But then, NeXT really never died.

Bay Area Guy said...

It's also easy to be alone if you have a lotta money. 'Cuz then, you just don't give a fuck.

If you're alone and poor? Well, then it's usually just sad.

Owen said...

The auto-payments story points us toward the Uploading. Where we achieve immortality in the accounts receivable ledger.

Caroline Walker said...

Yoko Ono is Japanese. Just sayin.

traditionalguy said...

BTW, Christian churches are the original industrial strength, family fellowship providers for the old widows/widowers. They exchange and get information on meeting of the senior citizens needs. They serve as an invaluable connection for many.

The Cracker Emcee Activist said...

“If you're alone and poor? Well, then it's usually just sad”

It is. I see a lot of this sort of thing. Poor health and depression are hard enough with support. Without support, they’re a certain downward spiral. And by support, I don’t mean a government check and a social worker.

Sebastian said...

Hey, how 'bout sending some Dreamers their way?

Ficta said...

Here's Scott (No Relation) Walker to sing you out.

Ann Althouse said...

"If you're alone and poor? Well, then it's usually just sad."

Where is the poverty line when you are living alone?

I think there are many solitary introvert types who lead simple, organized lives with modest incomes that would be experienced as poverty if there were a household with dependents.

If someone is living alone because of mental problems or substance abuse problems, then that's probably bad, but maybe less bad than the same person with children and a sexual partner to abuse.

mockturtle said...

While I miss my husband, I prefer living alone to any other situation. When I become unable to take care of myself, I'll move into some kind of facility. Living with my kids and grandkids would drive me nuts and then I'd have to move into another kind of facility.

The Cracker Emcee Activist said...

"Cats are the answer."

Good God, no. I know you're being facetious, but I've seen people who've become socially isolated because of the havoc (OK, shit and piss) wrought on their homes by multiple pets that the elderly/depressed/disabled/poor person couldn't hygienically care for. Pets (and possessions) should be in exact proportion to your ability to properly care for them.

Marc Puckett said...

There was a long essay in the NYT by Norimitsu Onishi on the loneliness of those approaching death in Japan etc, here, at the end of November.

Freeman Hunt said...

A death cleaning company was at a house in the neighborhood a couple years ago. The company name emblazoned on the sides of the van was Aftermath.

ALP said...

Amazing that people can be so lonely in such a dense society. Here is a recent story on the UK recently establishing a Minister of Loneliness Cabinet position:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-politics-health/britain-appoints-minister-for-loneliness-amid-growing-isolation-idUSKBN1F61I6

"Lonely" posts show up on the Seattle Reddit on a weekly basis: "I've been here 2 years and have no friends how do you make friends around here". The irony is that nearly every single one of these posts list the same interests, same age....lonely people all looking for the same thing. I ponder this subject often, and wonder if people are being too damn picky.

rhhardin said...

Sunshine Cleaning Service (2008) is a romcom, as I recall. Emily Blunt, before I liked her. (Live Die Repeat).

PackerBronco said...

Yoko might say that they will be even happier for that.

JohnAnnArbor said...

This is a case I have a hard time forgetting:

Michigan woman's auto-payments hid her death for over 5 years


That was breathtakingly sad.

Lucien said...

I think the Emily Blunt movie is Edge of Tomorrow. Live, Die, Repeat was the tag line (and would have been a better title). Great movie and a great ending - really the only way it could end and be honest with its internal rules.

The dying alone thing is vaguely sad in a poetic way, but the person who died doesn't care. This is however why I wouldn't recommend pets to the old and solitary unless they have someone coming every couple of days to check up on them. Your pets starving to death or dying of thirst because no one knows you died would be an awful result impacting something other than you.

Phil 3:14 said...

Posts with a paywall are frustrating.

mockturtle said...

Your pets starving to death or dying of thirst because no one knows you died would be an awful result impacting something other than you.

Or worse, gnawing your arm off, as happened to Pancho Barnes when she died.

twgin said...

Reminds me of an absolutely beautiful Japanese movie, Departures

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1069238/