During my spare time, I watch a lot of documentaries, but I wish I hadn’t watched this one, or at least not alone. “Dreams of a Life” follows the tragic passing of a young British woman named Joyce Vincent, who died alone in her apartment and was not discovered until 3 years later by law enforcement officials collecting a debt. It was reported that she was surrounded by Christmas gifts in December of 2003, yet no one had known of her whereabouts and her remains were not discovered until 2006. The only way to identify her was through dental records based on a photograph of her smiling. She was 38 years old.
Here are a few details that may piece together this puzzle. According to friends of hers who participated in the film, she was described as a very sweet, vibrant and popular woman, who had aspirations of becoming a singer, even had a few opportunities to be around celebrities, and had a lot of friends and people in her life. So why within a 3-year span did no one check on her? Why was she alone? Here are a few areas the film pointed out.
- She was in (or exiting) an abusive relationship which caused her to distance herself from family and friends. The complex she lived in was a place for battered women.
- She began acting strangely to those she knew, It began with not returning a phone call, then unanswered letters, then eventually, all contact was lost.
- She was a vibrant popular woman, yet lonely, not having many core friends but a slew of acquaintances, she often bounced from place to place, changed phone numbers, boyfriends and residences often, thus making it difficult to keep up with her. A few friends simply shrugged it off as her wanting to be left alone to live her life in solitude.
So, how exactly did Joyce die? The answer is unclear, but it was reported that she was admitted to a nearby hospital for Asthma and a Peptic Ulcer, it is believed she died from a complication of one or both of those. A tragic end to what once seemed like a fun love filled life. Some of us have been Joyce in one way or another, and some of us have been the friends that thought nothing of her erratic behavior because after all, she was “grown” and could do what she pleased. I’ve been known to disappear myself, but after 3 days people are blowing up my phone and banging on my door, and no matter how much I resist or try to push them away, they won’t budge without some form of explanation. Even if I just say “I’m good, leave me alone” they’ll do it…and call me later. What about you? What kind of people are in your life? Proverbs 18:24 says “One who has unreliable friends comes to ruin but a friend sticks closer than a brother.”
What’s interesting about this is that Joyce could have had all the friends that stuck, but she was so consumed with her own inner turmoil and problems that she saw an unfortunate fate. There are many signs in behavior we as people avoid to try to shrug off as “normal” when it’s actually a cry for help. As her former friends stated she was in and out of circles and often changed numbers and disappeared without notice or trace. Who can keep up with someone like that? I know, it’s impossible.
Nothing can bring Joyce back but we as people can take this story as a call to action to check up on those we haven’t heard from in a while, reconcile a broken relationship or simply take a stance to be more “present”. Call someone, check on that strong friend who always has advice, tell someone you love them. Just be there. This is for all the Joyce Vincent’s out there, community is so important, we as humans are wired to connect and relate to others, do not feel as though you are a burden to others for having an issue in your life, we are all going through our own situations and who knows..it could be the same. Don’t be afraid to speak up, cry out, pray and ask. You are important, you matter, and we need you.