The corpse of a 70-year-old woman was found in her home two years after she passed away. The body of Marinella Beretta was sitting in a chair in her living room in Prestino in northern Italy in a “mummified state”. Beretta lived alone with no living relatives to call on her. In fact, her neighbors had assumed she had moved away when the Covid-19 pandemic began so no one tried to call on her earlier. It took the local fire brigade investigating a fallen tree in her overgrown garden for someone to finally find her.
70-Year-Old Woman Found Dead Two Years Later
According to Como City Hall press officer Francesca Manfredi, Beretta had died toward the end of the year 2019 “based on the extent of decomposition”. They have yet to determine the cause of her death but there were no signs of foul play. Additionally, no relatives have come forward to claim her and the police have yet to track down any surviving family members. Plus, Beretta was not on any list for social service help. Therefore, it took a strong wind to uproot a tree in her garden for the neighbors to think something was amiss.
“The mystery of Marinella’s invisible life behind the closed gate of her cottage teaches us a terrible lesson,” the Messaggero daily said. “The real sadness is not that the others did not notice her death. It is that they did not realize Marinella Beretta was alive.” 
This tragedy has brought light to the current loneliness crisis in Italy. While the country’s traditional culture celebrates family connection, almost 40% of people over 75 years of age in Italy lived alone in 2018. Additionally, these people report having no living relatives or people to help them when needed. Therefore, Italian journalist Massimo Gramellini wrote that people are dying alone because “the chaotic, branched families of peasant Italy” are no longer a reality in the present. “Instead, the modern family is reduced… People die alone. And we live alone, which is almost worse.” 
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“No one should be alone”
The sad death of Beretta is proof of this statistic. Afterward, Como Mayor Mario Landriscina commented that her death “must be a moment of reflection on an example of loneliness that must really lead us to improve and change certain dynamics.”
Similarly, Italian families minister Elena Bonetti said in a Facebook post that Beretta’s death “hurts our consciences… We have a duty, as a community that wants to remain united, to remember her life. Taking care of each other is the experience of families, institutions, of our being citizens. No one should be alone.”
“We could become her relatives”
Landriscina invited all of the local residents to Beretta’s funeral. He explained that the municipal government will arrange and fund the event. “I will try to be there and I invite the city to be present,” Landriscina said. “This is the moment to be together, and even if this woman had no relatives, we could become her relatives.” 
Unfortunately, the number of people dying alone increased during the pandemic. Still, whenever such deaths are reported, they are tragic to hear about. Death is always an upsetting event, but even more so when one is alone when they go into that good night. Instances like these can hopefully help spare others from a similar experience. If you know of older people living alone, relatives, neighbors, or even acquaintances, check up on them once in a while. It’s easy to get lonely, especially as you get older, so phone calls and visits are often very welcome. Plus, these check-ins give these older people individuals to turn to when they need help, an important necessity that is not often a reality. Overall, it’s imperative to honor every life, not just after their death.
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- “Mummified body of Italian woman found sitting at a table, 2 years after her death.” CBS News. February 10, 2022
- “Woman’s ‘mummified’ body found sitting in a chair 2 years after death prompts Italy to reckon with its loneliness crisis.” Insider. Joshua Zitser. February 12, 2022
- “Body of 70-year-old Italian woman found sitting in chair, two years after her death.” CNN. Hada Messia, Sharon Braithwaite, and Hannah Ryan. February 10, 2022