In December 2003, Joyce Vincent died of an apparent asthma attack in her North London apartment. The television stayed on. The mail continued to be delivered. Her rent was set up to be automatically deducted from her bank account. Days passed and no one realized that she had passed away.

Those days turned into weeks and weeks into months. There were large dumpsters on the side of the building next to his unit, so the neighbors never gave much thought to the smell emanating from his apartment. The floor was full of noisy children and teenagers and no one questioned the constant hum of TV noise in the background.

Finally, Joyce’s bank account dried up. Her landlord sent her collection letters. These cards, like the others, simply fell into the piles scattered on her floor. They received no response. Finally, with more than six months of back rent, the landlord obtained a court order to forcibly remove her from the premises. The bailiffs broke down the door and it was only then that her body was discovered. By then, it was January 2006, more than two years after her death.

At that time, no one ever came looking for Joyce Vincent. No family, no friends, no coworkers, no neighbors knocking on the door to see if everything was okay. Nobody called. Nobody signed up. She was 38 years old when she died.

This story is amazing for its social implications. It feels incomprehensible that whole years go by without anyone noticing that a person has died. However, these kinds of stories happen frequently. Chances are you’ve seen a story similar to Joyce Vincent’s. And they are all the same.

A person lives alone. They lose contact with family and friends. They never know their neighbors. They remain locked up with their television or computer for years. The world moves on as if they were no longer there until one day they are no more.