Christmas can be an especially lonely time for many people.

In this blog Susan talks about how the loss of her husband has affected her, and why we should all make the effort to reach out to people and connect this Christmas. 

My name is Susan McGinlay. Four years ago I lost Michael, my husband of 47 years.

I want to ask you to reach out to someone older who might be lonely in the festive season.

It can be with something as simple as a smile, a hello, or a knock on someone’s door just to see how they are.

I’m one of the lucky ones

I could not believe how lonely I felt when I lost my husband and what a great void that had opened up in my life. I’m one of the lucky ones though as thanks to family, friends and being involved in a voluntary organisation. I had people who could help me feel less lonely and keep me active. Not everyone has that though.

Any celebration day or birthday is difficult. But Christmas especially is as it used to happen at our house. It was a real family affair.

Now there are too many memories for everyone for it to take place in the house I still live in. I’m happy for my children and grandkids about Christmas. But I’ve lost my soulmate. I always think back.

At Christmas now, we take the time talk about Michael and that’s now part of our Christmas tradition. It’s good for the grandkids to hear about him in family stories and that we’re still thinking of him.  I can share my loss but there are people that don’t have that. It must be a heart-rending burden to carry if they can’t talk about it. Having friends means I can talk to them about it and others things too.

Christmas can be a rough time

Christmas can be a tough time. But I can share my loss with my family and remember the good times.

Sometimes, even a smile can make all the difference to someone’s day. I look around and see older neighbours who are on their own with very little or no family support.  That’s why I reach out and ask how they are.

Will you reach out to someone?

Almost a million older people say they feel lonelier at Christmas, and half a million older people can go up to a week without seeing or speaking to anyone. 

This Christmas we want to change that, but we need you. We’ve come up with 12 simple things you can do to tackle loneliness, and make everyone feel more connected at Christmas.

We’ll share each of our tips on social media throughout December, and we’d like you to share your own. Use the hashtag #12Ways, and share with us how you’re ending loneliness with festive fun.


Susan McGinlay is a member of the Glasgow Disability Alliance.