Shopping For One


She walked toward me, gently pushing the shopping cart up the aisle. Her body was frail and her skin wrinkled, from the many years she had walked this earth. Her pace was slow and each step was taken carefully and with purpose.

A few feet ahead of me, she stopped to place an item in her cart. Normally I wouldn’t examine another person’s food selection, but today was different. Inside the large shopping cart was a small bag of rolls, sour cream and raspberries. Given her position in the store, her shopping was likely coming to an end.

The items in her cart got my attention, because of how few there were. A large cart designed for carrying food for an entire family, was now holding three small items. This may have been because she couldn’t carry a basket, but what if it was because she didn’t know how to shop for only herself?

It was obvious by her facial expressions, body language and lack of motivation, that she was in no hurry. It was as if she had no where to be. No one to go home to. By all appearance, she was shopping for one.

Further down the aisle was an older gentleman, with a shopping basket in his hand. He was scanning over the frozen dinner choices and placing his selection into the basket.

Upon seeing him, I stopped in the middle of the aisle and carefully took notice of everyone around me. There were shopping carts flooded with food, being pushed along by seemingly happy people on a mission. Then there were others, with hardly no food at all, being guided down the aisle by shoppers with somber expressions.

“It’s so hard shopping for one. What do you cook for just one person?” My mother said this recently, and caused me to see people that I would normally just pass by. How many people are lost in the store, as my mother often is, desperately trying to learn how to shop for one?

Many of us don’t enjoy shopping, especially for our entire family. It can be expensive and very time consuming. What we don’t take into consideration, is what a gift it is to have people to shop for. Several people don’t have anyone, but themselves.

My mother went on to say, “It’s easy to spot them. They’re usually the ones who only have a couple of items in their basket, or shop solely in the frozen food aisle.” After losing my step-father last year, that’s what she does, so she knows this from personal experience.

As I looked around today, I learned that she was right. With ‘new’ eyes, I saw them, just as she had said I would. Lonely people everywhere, shopping for one. I wanted to go up and hug each of them, but at the risk of having the police called, I held back.

When a person’s spouse passes away, it makes a significant impact on every aspect of their life. They’ve spent several years living alongside someone else, and now suddenly they have to learn how to live alone. They don’t just wake up alone and come home alone; they do everything alone.

What can we do to make them feel less lonely? A kind word, a conversation, helping them, or buying them a flower are all simple ideas, but each one could bring a smile to their face. A smile that could possibly be their first in days, months, or even years.

It’s the simple things in life that mean the most. Showing kindness and love to someone only takes a moment, but its impact can last forever.

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18 Responses to Shopping For One

  1. Well, now I’ll have to be the weird person that talks to strangers at the grocery store!! Such a great point, it’s good to expand our community and help our community be whole.


  2. DailyMusings says:

    What a great post- and a great reminder. My uncle was widowed at 75 and lived to 107 and was independent until then. Did all his own shopping. Everyone new him where he shopped because he always struck up conversation with people. He longed for the conversation- even if it was only about what brand cottage cheese someone was buying.


    • mewhoami says:

      Thank you. That’s a long time to live alone. I’m glad that people took the time to brighten his days with conversation. You’re right about the topic of conversation – most of the time it doesn’t matter, as long as they get to be social. That can be a rarity when living alone.


  3. suzjones says:

    Very poignant post. It is amazing how when you become aware of something in your life, you notice it more often. Now you will have me checking out shopping baskets when I go shopping next.


    • mewhoami says:

      Thank you, Sue. When my mother told me that, it certainly opened my eyes. The shopping experience is much different now. It really does cause you to see things that you wouldn’t typically notice and really feel for others in a new way.


  4. Sammy D. says:

    Great post. When I worked as a bank teller, some people would come in every day and we knew it was more for the social contact than for their banking task. Keep in mind if you are speaking primarily about the elderly, many of them (us!) are hard of hearing and it is often difficult to hear “new voices” and understand what’s being said – you don’t have to speak loudly as much as speaking slowly and in a lower tone of voice. High-pitched, fast voices are impossible for most elderly to understand.

    I am sorry for your loss of your step-father, and your mother’s loss of her spouse and companion.


    • mewhoami says:

      It is sweet of you to recognize the real purpose behind people’s regular visits. They certainly crave and need conversation. I used to work in an assisted living center and an Alzheimer’s unit, so I have a big heart for the elderly. It was neat to have this new perspective brought to my attention.

      I appreciate you pointing out that people don’t have to raise their voices, they only have to speak slower and more clearly. My son, who is autistic has people ‘yell’ at him all the time. It’s so frustrating and I know that the elderly must feel the same. Thank you. It’s been a roller coaster of a year.


  5. I meet folks like this every day because of my job. People who have no one at home, no one to talk to, no one who visits, no one who truly understands being alone. I hope we all read this and reach out a little further.


  6. stacilys says:

    Beautiful post. I love it when people return to simplicity and considering life. Kudos to you.


  7. April says:

    You made my eyes leak.


  8. pardenme says:

    Thank you, Sweetheart. I couldn’t have said it better myself. I love you.


  9. Reblogged this on My Drops Of Jupiter and commented:
    I had been mourning the loss of my dearest friend, and after reading this,I thought of her, I feel as if I am a lonely shopper, shopping only for 1


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