Michael de Groot - Blog
5 min readMar 29, 2022


The dog was barking non-stop in the neighbours garden, it was drowning out the slow hum of traffic in the streets, nobody was attending the dog’s needs or request for attention. Maybe it was lonely, locked up in the garden with no way back into the house? Who knows why it was barking and all of a sudden out of nowhere there is a shout from a man, I can’t quite make it out, it sounded like he wanted someone to do something about the non-stop barking of the dog. It sounded like “sort you dog out” or something like that, but of course I could have made that up, it didn’t help, the dog continued and maybe it sounded like it even got a little louder after that man’s shouting.

The birds weren’t bothered by the noise they continued singing as if there wasn’t anything going on, they seemed totally at peace in their own little bird world. Were they singing because they needed attention from a possible mate or were they just happy because it was a nice day? Who knows why birds sing, granted we’ve all heard about the dawn chorus, they’re definitely very loud early morning and then do they stop because it’s no longer dawn or don’t we hear it as much because the world wakes up and the noise of the world going about it’s way drowns out their song?

In the distance you can hear school children singing and talking at the top of their voices, it’s like each one of them needs to be heard over the other. It must be break time and they’re in the school grounds, lucky as it isn’t raining right now and the sun is out too. It’s been a long winter, dull and grey, so we’re all super happy that the sun is shining, children seem so much happier when they can get outside and play, it’s their energy that needs releasing and the only way that can be done is by being out in the fresh air, running, cycling, playing football, up and down the slide, back and forth on the swings, it all helps to burn up that childlike energy. Oh how we wish to be a child again, no worries in the world, no money pressures, no responsibilities and no loneliness.

Margaret lives on her own now, she lost her husband, Patrick, 2 years ago to Covid-19, that Coronavirus from China, it was so sudden, they certainly hadn’t expected anything like this, well who would have? Their lives had been planned out, they’d only recently retired and were looking forward to all the travelling they were going to do. No more, it’s never going to happen. They had 2 boys and both of them were killed in the Afghan war, so cruel, so young and so soon. Jamie was a colonel and his patrol drove over an IED, Jonathan was a regular soldier and he got hit by incoming enemy fire, they were both out there on different tours, in different years, but out in the same horrible war-torn environment. And what was the point, it never freed the people there, the Taliban is back in control again and her sons gave their lives for nothing? It still hurts so much for Margaret, she thinks about them every day and now on top of that she thinks of her husband too, why were all these men taken away from her far too soon? She will never know the answer.

Her mind is heavy with thoughts of loneliness, yes she has a few friends, but her immediate family are all gone, she lives on her own and apart from the radio, the TV and the odd few meals out, she definitely feels very alone, alone in the world and alone in her house. The house is the worst thing, it’s the same house where they all lived together, she can still hear all the sounds that use to reverberate around the house when the boys and her husband lived there, every day, she thinks she can hear their voices, she even thought she had gone a bit mad. She imagines conversations they use to have around the dinner table, she dreams about them almost every night and when she wakes up reality hits her hard, they were just dreams, they are no longer in the house. She’s considered the befriending services that are offered out, but what good is it to speak on the phone to a total stranger, someone who you’ve never met and someone who doesn’t know anything about you, your circumstances or who you are and what you are about. Oh, it’s just such an awful predicament for Margaret. At times she’s even thought about ending it herself.

One sunny morning, she got up early, woken up by the dawn chorus in her garden, the barks of dogs, the chatter of kids on their way to school, the hum of traffic in the distance and the light breeze flowing through the slight open window in her bedroom. People chatting in the street, commenting on what good weather we were having right now and the noise of bin men emptying the recycling bins that everyone had put out the night before. This is when it dawned on her, listening to all those noises, connecting the noises with the activities and appreciating the sounds in her mind, connecting those sounds to little stories of the lives, animal or human that were going on every second of the day, every second of the day that she could connect to those sounds in her mind and the realisation that we’re actually never alone. All of the sounds we hear, create feelings inside of us, feelings we can hold on to, feelings we can experience and a feeling of being part of everything and that everything is part of us. There can never be loneliness as we’re truly never alone.


Originally published at https://www.stayingaliveuk.com on March 29, 2022.