I don’t find anything scarier than dying alone with nobody noticing until my dead body turns to a skeleton.
We all know death is uncertain and it is the most inevitable thing on the earth.
But, can you imagine yourself living alone in the cozy bedroom of your apartment, busy with Christmas preparations and suddenly taking the last breath of your life? Can you see yourself dead and there is no one to check on you, no one to bother about your wellbeing and your body slowly decays?
Getting goosebumps right?
Sure, it’s very difficult to even imagine such a horrible death.
But, that’s what has happened to Joyce Carol Vincent in 2003. It’s heart-wrenching to know she has been through such extreme circumstances.
Who was Joyce Vincent?
She was a beautiful British woman from North London who died and remained unnoticed for more than two years in her bed-sitting room. Isn’t it strange that there was no one in her life to ensure she was still alive and well?
Not knowing her well, her neighbors didn’t notice her absence. They also thought that the bad smell was due to garbage bins below the apartment.
The mysterious death of this 38-year-old woman was finally realized three years later during an eviction. Till then she seemed to be living “the life” for many people who know her.
Vincent’s skeleton was found in 2006 lying on the floor clutching a shopping bag. She was recognized through her dental records. Police ruled out the possibility of murder and speculated to have an asthma attack.
This heartbreaking story was depicted in an episode of “Being Mary Jane”. Vincent’s life and death was the center of the topic of Dreams of a Life, a 2011 docudrama film.
Thanks to the filmmaker Carol Morley who decided to explore her life and his documentary left a heavy emotional impact of what it must be like to die alone. When debuted at the BFI Film Festival in London, the documentary earned a great nomination buzz for the best documentary.
Using the details of this documentary, poet Joel Sadler-Puckering composed a poem about Vincent – I Know Why the Gay Man Dances.
Inspired by her life, English musician Steven Wilson released his fourth solo studio album Hand. Cannot. Erase in 2015. Earlier he formed a rock band – Miss Vincent and wrote a song on her life titled No One Knew.
Finding out the cause of Joyce’s death was highly challenging for Carol Morley because there seemed to be no one who even knew the young Caribbean woman.
Although her family members attended her funeral ceremonies, they never responded to Morley’s inquiries. But, as time passed by friends and associates of Joyce began to reach out and share their experiences with the woman.
As evident from most accounts, Joyce was popular. She was known as a sociable, intelligent, lovable, and charismatic person. Singing was her talent and there were many occasions of meeting with celebrities like Stevie Wonder, Nelson Mandela, and Quincy Jones.
It’s surprising that a healthy, budding singer died suddenly. However, most people missed the possibility of loneliness in her life.
What made this socialite stay aloof and socially isolated that even her death went undiscovered for so many years?
Many people quietly suffer from loneliness every day. A state of feeling empty, alone and unwanted. We either stigmatize people with such destructive mental health issue or too busy notice signs.
Life is too short and you never know if it’s your turn to undergo such miserable death.
The real-life tragedy of Joyce taught me three things. Now I know what to look out for before my loved ones leave me forever.
Lessons from Joyce Vincent’s Mysterious Death
1. A smile doesn’t always mean a person is happy.
I meet a lot of people in day to day life, who claim to be independent and happy. There are many young women in my accounts who prioritize work so much that they rarely have time for friends and relationships.
Personally I’ve met some women who don’t trust people or believe in true love. Such an attitude is mainly due to past heartbreaks and negative experiences from close relationships.
Was it the same with Joyce? Did she end up being lonely because of bitter relationships in her past? Is it that she had no courage left to build new relationships?
“It’s not always the tears that measure the pain. Sometimes it’s the smile we fake.” – unknown
People with depression have wounds that do not show up on their bodies. They want to join society but somehow can’t.
Depression is a deadly mental illness! Worldwide, more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression, according to the World Health Organisation. But a lot of these people go untreated and overtime tends to prefer social-isolation.
There are several instances where I was breaking down but chose to keep my emotions inside. I’ve pretended to my loved ones that everything was okay just to “spare them” the ordeal of having to deal with my problems.
I have realized in a hard way that this is a wrong approach. Not just for professional needs but some sort of Human interaction is very much important for everyone.
2. Small gestures can make people feel incredible
My grandmother always asked me to show small gestures of kindness to others including those who hurt me. Anyone anytime can end up in pain, which can be in the form of business loss, sickness or anything.
But, these small gestures can go a long way. Simply asking “How are you?” with a smile can make a sick person feel cared for. Giving a compliment “oh, you’re looking great today” can make a big difference in the life of a person feeling lonely or sad.
This is the digital world and we love to add friends and strangers on social media instead of making friends in real life. We never say hello to the strangers we pass on the street every day.
But taking out your precious time to say hello to a person who always eats his launch alone can make a huge impact on his life.
I believe that no one should die alone!
Let’s not judge those who never attend parties or smile as we do. It’s time to stop assuming that people who keep to themselves are weird or strange. What if by being kind that so-called strange person becomes your best buddy?
3. Care for your loved ones
When was the last time you hugged your mom or said to her “I love You”? We do love our parents but forget to show that we care for them. Only we repent, when they’re gone forever.