In December of 2003, Joyce Vincent died of an apparent asthma attack in her north London flat. The television was left on. The mail continued to be delivered. Her rent was set up to be automatically deducted from her bank account. The days rolled by and no one noticed she was gone.
Those days turned into weeks and the weeks into months. There were large trash dumpsters on the side of the building next to her unit, so the neighbours never thought much of the smell emanating from her flat. The floor was full of noisy kids and teenagers and no one questioned the constant thrum of television noise in the background.
Eventually, Joyce’s bank account dried up. Her landlord sent her letters of collection. These letters, like the others, simply fell into the stacks scattered about her floor. They went unanswered. Finally, with more than six months of overdue rent, the landlord got a court order to forcibly remove her from the premises. The bailiffs broke down the door, and it was only then her body was discovered.
By then, it was January 2006, more than two years after she passed away.
In that time, nobody ever came looking for Joyce Vincent.
No neighbour knocked on the door to see if things were all right.
Nobody checked in.
She was 38-years-old when she died.
This story is jaw-dropping in its social implications. It feels unfathomable that entire years could go by with no one noticing a person has died. Yet, these sorts of stories happen frequently.
Chances are you’ve seen a news story similar to the one about Joyce Vincent. And they are all the same.
A person lives alone. They lose touch with family and friends. They never meet their neighbours. They stay shut in with their television or computer for years at a time.
The world moves on as if they are no longer there until one day, they are no longer there.