Last year I wrote this post about Joyce Carol Vincent, an English woman found dead in her apartment years after her death surrounded by all the normal trappings of life, including yet to be given Christmas gifts. Last week, a Michigan woman, Pia Farrenkopf was found in the back passenger seat of her car, which was parked in her own garage, after more than six years.
While the circumstances surrounding these two incidents differ, the striking thing about these stories is the amount of time that passed before anyone raised an alarm or came looking for them. In truth, in both instances there were people that came to check, doors were knocked on, mail was delivered, and neighbors continued to come and go. In the case of Pia, one of her neighbors continued to mow her lawn for years, apparently thinking she was out of town.
Stories like this cut to the bone of my internalized fears. I question the kind of society we have built if people, presumably functioning, employed people with families and connections of some kind to the world can die in their own homes without anyone noticing or caring. I think that cases such as these highlight our increasing isolation, typically obscured by the false connections of social media but present and growing nonetheless. I wonder about the state of the modern neighborhood that a death can go unnoticed. I also think that it says something profound about what really drives our culture that both women were ultimately found by bill collectors.
What is the strength of your connections? Who are the people in your life in danger of becoming lost souls? Who will be the one to find you?