Stories of Widowhood

Stories of widowhood hold immeasurable power and wisdom.

Your experiences, challenges, and triumphs can inspire others who are walking a similar path or offer solace to those in need of understanding. By sharing stories, we create a space where the resilience of widows and widowers can be celebrated.

Your voices deserve to be heard, cherished, and embraced. Together, let us forge a community of strength and support, united in the beauty of your stories.

Jeanette's Story

“Everyone thinks they had the best husband and marriage but I really did.

I met Brian late in life on a dating site. It was love at first sight and moved in together within a month. No point waiting our time of life. I was 50 and as I now know life is short… I still can’t believe he died and it’s been a year. Grief is the hardest thing to deal with.

I had no support or family around me, and Macmillan Cancer Support didn’t come near yet every year I ran a coffee morning to raise funds for them.  

In December 29, 2021, Brian came home from work and didn’t feel well. I did a test and he had Covid so went to bed, but he wasn’t recovering. The ambulance came and took him in for a few hours with oxygen and sent him home. He still wasn’t getting better so we contacted the GP who sent him antibiotics. Fast forward to 2022 and the doctor’s still refusing to see him. We rang 111 and an inhaler was sent. He was still in great pain and eventually in February, the doctor sent him for an x-ray and told him he had Pneumothorax (collapsed lung). I took him to A&E where they operated straightaway. After three weeks, Brian was sent to Guy’s Hospital for five weeks. He came home with a drain in which should have been in for five days, but was instead in for five weeks. Brian went back to Guy’s and was diagnosed with sepsis. They kept doing blood cultures and eventually he had a biopsy to discover he had a rare form of blood cancer. In May, he was transferred to our local hospital. I slept there every day to stay with him, showered him, and looked after him. I always thought he would get better. He was such a fighter but on 5th July, he looked at me and I spoke to him of all the happy times. I told him it was okay to go and I would be fine, so he closed his eyes. One last kiss and he was gone. It was peaceful, but the guilt I felt of telling him to go overwhelms me.

We have to move forward and I had to move home where I’ve been for 40 years to be near my family, which I don’t regret and love where I live. 

Grief does come in waves, little things can make you cry but that’s good. Why should we hide it we have lost our soulmate, best friend and Tiktok-er fun person?

I’m living my life but it’s not the one I would have chosen.”

Jan & David

Jan's Story

“It is with the great loss of a loved one, that we discover the weakness of our emotions. I am often surprised at the swift onset of tears which appear without any seemingly poignant trigger. 

I went to the cinema recently with a friend to see Little Women. It holds an abundance of childhood memories, which unleashed a myriad of emotions. Tears flowed and in retrospect covered such a wide variety of issues.  

My mother was a tough person to live with. It’s only through discussions over the years since her death that my brother and I have come to terms with our dysfunctional childhood. Her temper and outbursts were often to her own detriment and thus triggered by the sadness that must have been held in her heart for so long. They often manifested themselves in terror and upset in our family. She must have been so sad inside to have wrought such a gamut of emotions, which in turn added to our deeply dysfunctional upbringing. 

Then I thought of my daughter and how, after reading the book, started to call me ‘marmee’. She still does when writing to me. 

Then of course to David my wonderful, funny random late husband and with his loss the deep, deep loneliness. 

I know I’m much more prone to tears now, so no longer try to challenge the reasons. And neither should you. They are all part of our grief and of course the broken hearts we carry that we ‘duck tape’ with our memories. 

I’m very honoured that I have a wonderful friend, with whom I can correspond, who truly understands the level of grief the loss of a partner brings. Loss of parents, siblings, friends and very sadly children are hard to bear but the loss of a partner with whom you have grown, aged and who have helped to mould who you have become over the decades of your relationship, is something totally different. They were often the better side of you. The ying to your yang. Your reason for sharing every part of your life… mind, body and soul. Intimate, secretive, earth moving, challenging, teaching, so many things, indeed… our everything. 

I can only say again that this level of despair does come in waves and sometimes surprises us by its ferocity and depth. But being below par physically or at ‘anniversary moments‘, we tend to indulge ourselves in raising memories to the fore that we know will end in floods of tears. (And remember it’s allowed, there’s no moratorium on grief). 

I admit, at Christmas, I indulged in a few hours of deep, deep despair and, I’ll admit, self pity. I didn’t think I could pull myself out of it. But as is often the case, my ‘mini me’ daughter sent me a photo of a song that had appeared by chance on their car radio, on the way to Christmas dinner with friends. It was Blackbird by The Beatles. One of, if not THE favourite of David’s eclectic mix of music. It both cheered me and changed my tears from distraught self pity to joy of memory. So losing a partner through bereavement is a bitter sweet existence. But we endure and oh those lovely memories…”

Keith's Story

“My wife, Jenny and I were married on the 19th July 1975. We were keen hill walkers, so when we had a break from Jenny’s nursing duties at the Royal Hospital Wolverhampton (now a Tesco Store), we spend many holidays walking the Lake District hills.

Returning from a holiday, Jenny developed severe pain in her side. The doctor arranged for an ultrasound scan within hours. We returned home and within a few hours, our GP arrived to say that Jenny had Liver Cancer and a biopsy would determine how severe. 

A regime of chemotherapy of five days, with a three-week break started. Jenny did not cope with the intensity, dropping from nine to five stone within two months. 

Diagnosis to death was nine months. We were left to cope alone (unable to have children) and with no other support. Chemotherapy was traumatic; coping with mouth ulcers, losing fingernails, preventing her playing the piano. Jenny died in my arms at home, just able to say the she loved me.

I decided at 56 to take early retirement as a service manager at an aggressive PLC.

Macmillan Cancer support were never there for us, I felt abandoned. However, I did not wish for anyone to find themselves in the same situation.

We were hill walkers, so I decided to walk the 191 mile Coast to Coast solo in 2003 whilst raising funds and awareness for Macmillan Cancer Support. All my preparations worked out very well – I was pleased with my map reading skills with only a couple of head scratching moments. I raised over £3,500 for Macmillan.

I was invited to become a member of Stafford Macmillan fundraising team, and chair a year later, raising over £40,000 in my ten year service. 

I began with the Coast to Coast 2003 and continued annually until 2019, when two knee replacements were required. In 2018, I was awarded the Macmillan Vicky Clement Jones Award. 

Now approaching 78, I’m still active and will be hill walking in the Lake District in two weeks. It was Jenny’s dying wish to have her ashes scattered in the grounds of a Riverside Cottage where we spent our holidays, and with the consent of the owners, I will be placing flowers on a memorial stone in her memory.”

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