By Sharon Murray
Christmas is fondly remembered as being a time for family and friends; getting together and making memories. But demographics show more women than ever live alone. Some will be home for the holidays, while others will face a solo Christmas. Even those who do have company may return to an empty house once the festivities are done.
Research indicates that the health dangers of loneliness are a greater threat to health than obesity or smoking), and social media appears to add to, rather than alleviate these issues. Loneliness increases depression, leads to a poor diet and lack of exercise, and can result in suicide. Physical diseases thought to be caused or exacerbated by loneliness would include Alzheimer’s, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and even cancer – tumours can metastasize faster in lonely people. As John Cacioppo says in The Science of Loneliness, ‘’Loneliness is breaking our hearts, but as a culture we rarely talk about it.’’
If I’m a lonely 50-plus single woman, (or the child, sibling or friend of one), what’s the answer?
That was the question Lynda Millard asked herself five years ago.
Real social networking with Canada’s only national non profit group was her solution.
Stretching from Vancouver to Toronto; The Crown Jewels of Canada Society, provides friendship and support for a generation of women ready for a second life. Established by a small group of Canadian women from a house in Kelowna, this is a story of women joining together to help women; inspirational and empowering!
Over 5,000 strong, and with members from coast to coast, rules are few and simple. Wear red and white to reflect the Canadian heritage with a splash of purple (the Jewels are regal after all), pay your annual $10 dues, wear something on your head (be that a fascinator or a decorated bra!) and have fun. Activities range from jalopy rides to cruises, charity fund raisers to annual conventions, craft fairs to tea parties, and, movie nights to zip lining. There is an annual convention hosted by a different province each year, and a cruise for those who want to travel with like-minded companions.
In an increasingly remote online world, the organization takes the refreshing approach that chapters and individuals can engage via the Internet, but the focus is on real relationships and get-togethers – women striking up and maintaining relationships with women.
Kelowna resident Sharon Murray is a member of the Crown Jewels of Canada Society