Tuesday, 23 October 2012

On being a widow

I am writing this for my own benefit rather than anything else.  I don't sleep well these days.

I lived with the same man for almost two-thirds of my life.  We first met when we were new students at Liverpool University and we were together from then on.

And now, suddenly, shockingly, unexpectedly, he has died.  He hasn't passed on, I haven't lost him.  He died and I am alone.

They say you pass through stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  If being in a state of shocked disbelief is denial, then no doubt I am experiencing that.  Anger is directed at completely unrelated people and situations.  The rest has yet to come but I don't see a great deal of point in bargaining at this stage.

My brother in law died in Canada just over four weeks ago.  I was hoping to get to his funeral but we were in France, the logistics didn't work out, and my sister was surrounded by a caring family.  So I didn't go.  On the evening of his funeral, I found my husband unconscious.  I recognised the symptoms: he had had a stroke.

Then began my battle, it felt like a battle, with the French medical system.  I stayed by my husband's side for 48 hours until it seemed he had made a good recovery.  They kept him in for another two days and then I had to get him home to England.

I did get him home, with the help of my son.  We all relaxed.  We had a few enjoyable days, but it happened again, this time worse, much worse.  They wanted to keep him in for at least four weeks but he deteriorated.  I had some dreadful decisions to make about treatment, about whether to have him transferred to a London hospital.  I was well aware of his views on quality of life and fortunately both my sons agreed, but it didn't make taking the decision any easier.  We stayed with him while they made him as comfortable and peaceful as possible.

People's reactions have been interesting.  There are those who say how sorry they are and fade away from sight.  Some ask if they can be of help - but what help can they give?  But others just get on with small, practical ways of showing they care.

Slowly, very slowly, laughter can be heard returning to our home.  We are taking some steps on the path of recovery, but it will be a long and painful path.


  1. A difficult time, words don't help much. Still remembering you.

  2. I don't wish to intrude, but I want you to know I'm thinking of you.

  3. Hi A. --

    So sorry to hear of your loss. Please take care. And yes, I realize that I can't render much, if any, help to you but I hope it helps for you to know that you are in many people's thoughts, mine included.

  4. It is never easy to grieve, never easy to understand the loss and the endless questions as to why, how. The memories will support you, as will your friends and family, to help him live on in your minds and hearts. Blessings upon you and your family in your days of sorrow xx

  5. I wish I could say some kind of words that could help you. If anyone asks what could they do to help, don't be afraid to list the practical things, things that people don't normally think of...whether it is doing the gardening or carpentry jobs that must be done in a house, in other words, things that your husband might normally have done. Often, people want to help but can't think of the things that are needed most.
    Thinking about you, from America!
    (And if I were there, I could find folks to help you with gardening or carpentry, but don't look at me, I am hopeless at both.) xx

  6. Thank you all for your thoughts. I do very much appreciate them and that you took the trouble to leave me a message. It does help and I am making progress even though at one point I thought I never could.

  7. I confess, I don't know what to say. Your news is so devastating. Although I've been bereaved, it's not help in doing more than saying, I'm sad for you. Yesterday would have been my mother's birthday, tomorrow would be my father's.

    I think of them both, and hope they're re-united now, I can hear my father's laugh, my mother singing in the kitchen, I am who I am, in large part, due to them.
    They're never completely gone.
    I hope your world settles and the grief fades, I hope you'll find yourself smiling, and laughing, by and by.
    Best Wishes.

    1. Thank you so much for your words. I'll get there in the end, I'm quite sure, it's just sometimes the intermediate stages that seem so difficult.


Forethoughts, afterthoughts, any thoughts. Tell me.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin