Feeling lonely at Christmas is common. But it was especially true for George Dowling, 95, after his Christmas-loving wife of 70 years passed away.
The Christmas season is always a difficult one for the Rhode Island man since he lost his loving wife of 70 years, Lucille.
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Lucille loved Christmas. She anxiously waited for the day after Thanksgiving so she could put up the tree and start decorating. But in 2013, he passed away from Alzheimer’s just a month before Christmas. And for George Dowling, much of the joy and excitement of the season died with her. He removed all the decorations and refused to celebrate the holiday.
“My father couldn’t handle it,” said Suzan Brito, the man’s daughter and primary caregiver.
Cheers to a widower who is lonely at Christmas
Adjusting to life after losing a spouse is difficult no matter the circumstances. But George Dowling found it especially difficult at Christmas. Surely he couldn’t think of Christmas without thinking of Lucille.
“I miss my wife and the kids,” George explained. He went on to say, “I have four children, I’m still alive thank God, but my wife passed away about 10 years ago. I’m doing well, I’m trying.”
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Lucille was the driving force behind Christmas at the Dowling house. She cooked and decorated, and invited all the friends and family to celebrate. When she left, George felt lonely at Christmas.
George’s beloved daughter, Suzan, could not stand by and watch him suffer. So, she posted a plea on Facebook, asking strangers to help shower her grieving father with a little holiday cheer.
“Could you send my dad a Christmas card?” she begged.
Both Suzan and her father were delighted when George received 102 Christmas cards. Little did they know that this new Christmas tradition was just getting started!
Flood of letters for George Dowling
George loved the cards he received. So when Christmas came around again, friends and family made sure to put George Dowling on their annual mailing list. But without the support of the Internet, it just wasn’t enough.
“My friends, our family, they sent her some every year that she loved,” explained Suzan Brito. “Last year there were 14, and last year I was sad. It didn’t get him through the Christmas season.”
So, Suzan took to social media again. And this time, her 45-year-old daughter Charlene Fletcher also joined.
And when 160,000 people shared the application, it went viral and cards flooded like never before!
“I couldn’t believe it,” Suzan said. “I told him ‘Dad, now you have so many grandchildren, 160,000 of them.’ They call him ‘Grandpa George’.”
Widower feeling lonely at Christmas touched by kindness
The cards come from all over the place from complete strangers. And George Dowling reads them all and hangs them all over the house.
“She gets so excited her face lights up,” Suzan said. “As I lay out each card and watch him read them, I’m like, ‘Are you kidding? These people are amazing.’”
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George appreciates all the cards, but he especially loves the artwork sent to him by the children.
So far this year, the widower has been bombarded with thousands of cards! And it’s so beautiful to see, thanks to the kindness of strangers, a 95-year-old full of joy and excitement instead of feeling lonely at Christmas.
After 95 years on this planet, George is receiving more attention than ever in his life. And kindness has made a world of difference in helping him cope with the feeling of loneliness at Christmas.
“I was always in the background,” he said. “Always watching, let the other do it, you know. Thank you for everything. Thank you for writing. People respond, they are very kind.”
And if you have any interest in sharing some seasonal greetings for this sweet man, here’s where you can send them:
64 Harris Street
Pawtucket, Rhode Island 02861
What a powerful reminder of what a big impact a small act of kindness can have. This is how the Body of Christ operates, working together to spread hope and love!
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If, like George, you feel lonely at Christmas, let these uplifting Bible verses bring you comfort. And encourage others by sharing this story with them!
Bible verses for loneliness
1) “But I am still always with you; you have taken me by the right hand. Your wisdom will be my guide, and then you will put me in a place of honor. Who do I have in heaven but you? And having you I have no desire for anything on earth. My flesh and my heart wear out, but God is the Rock of my heart and my eternal inheritance. Psalm 73:23-26
2) “When my father and mother abandon me, then the Lord will take me back.” Psalm 27:10
3) “Behold, the hour is coming, yes, and it has already arrived, in which you will be scattered, each one to his own side, and you will leave me alone. However, I am not alone, because the Father is with me. I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have oppression; but cheer up! I have overcome the world.” John 16:32-33
4) “Those who do not have friends, God puts them in families; he sets free those who are chained; but those who turn away from it are given a dry land.” Psalm 68:6
5) “I will no longer call you servants, because the servant does not know what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because everything I heard from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15
6) “Strive and be encouraged, and do not fear them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you; he will not take his help from you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
7) “For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor things on high, nor things under the earth, nor anything made , will be able to interpose between us and the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”. Romans 8:38-39
8) “Jesus approached them and spoke to them saying: All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Behold, I will be with you always, until the end of the world.” Matthew 28:18-20
9) “Putting all your problems on Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
10) “Free yourself from the love of money, be content with the things you have, because He has said: ‘I will in no way leave you, nor will I in any way forsake you.’ heart: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear: what can man do to me?’” Hebrews 13:5-6