Without My Family near, I've Nothing to Live for; ' I Have Always Thought of Christmas Time ...as a Good Time; a Kind, Forgiving, Charitable, Pleasant Time; the Only Time I Know Of. When Men and Women Seem by One Consent to Open Their Shut-Up Hearts Freely.'; INSPIRE from A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

Daily Mail (London), December 28, 2016 | Go to article overview

Without My Family near, I've Nothing to Live for; ' I Have Always Thought of Christmas Time ...as a Good Time; a Kind, Forgiving, Charitable, Pleasant Time; the Only Time I Know Of. When Men and Women Seem by One Consent to Open Their Shut-Up Hearts Freely.'; INSPIRE from A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens (1812-1870)


Byline: BEL MOONEY

DEAR BEL

I AM truly sorry to burden you with my troubles, however I have no one I can turn to. I am working and living in Pakistan in a remote location. I no longer have contact with my direct family, my wife, my daughters, who are now 16, 16 and eight -- yes, the two eldest are twins. I feel so alone. Apart from work, I feel as though I have nothing left to live for. My wife and I do not speak and I do not want to speak to her.

IAN

AFTER nearly 12 years as an advice columnist I have never received a letter so very short, so lacking in facts and so overflowing with pain. I pick it with a sense of helplessness -- and use your real name (a rare occurrence) because I see no reason not to, and it feels like more of a connection to a desperately lonely man, so far away.

There are many things I'd ask you about your family - principally, how you could fall out so badly with your wife that all communication has broken down and you have lost touch with your children.

There's an encyclopaedia to learn about this tragedy -- especially since I publish your tiny note at the time of year when many people place families centre stage.

It is vital for us all to remember those who are alone, in our own country and around the world, and pause briefly in compassion and fellow feeling -- because throwing out ribbons of imagination and empathy to fellow men and women creates a vast, vital, intricate web of humanity.

God knows, it's the only thing that might save the world from the evil stalking us.

Honestly, I couldn't go on living without the faith that, even on the last day, someone will hold out a hand to offer help to a stranger.

This is the saving grace, the light in the darkness -- and the heart of the message of Christianity, the birth of which we have recently marked.

What can I say to you, Ian, to give you the comfort you crave -- why else would you have written, if not to hope for some kindness? It is utterly heart-breaking to realise that you will find it nowhere else. So (aware that all efforts will seem paltry in the face of your lonely despair) my starting point must be to suggest that you tell yourself your life has meaning.

This is a different matter from any considerations of happiness. Today, there is an expectation that we all have a divine right to be happy -- this is the modern obsession. …

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Without My Family near, I've Nothing to Live for; ' I Have Always Thought of Christmas Time ...as a Good Time; a Kind, Forgiving, Charitable, Pleasant Time; the Only Time I Know Of. When Men and Women Seem by One Consent to Open Their Shut-Up Hearts Freely.'; INSPIRE from A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens (1812-1870)
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