Feeling Disempowered

I lost John my partner of 19 years early in December 2023 to metastatic colon cancer. He’d had surgery to remove a tumour from his intestine in April 2022, followed by 4 rounds of preventative chemotherapy. His last chemo was in August 2022. Follow-ups didn’t start until May 2023. He had a CT scan on 16 May followed by a meeting with the oncologist on 8 June, who told him there was no trace of cancer on the scan. However soon after that a blood test revealed too many white cells and he had a PET scan on 20 June. It wasn’t until 22 September that his GP had noticed the result had not been reported. On 26 September an oncologist told him his cancer had metastasised to the lining of his stomach. Further chemo was arranged to start on 13 October, but prior to that he had dreadful sickness and diarrhoea, and on the Friday he was to start chemo he was too weak and he was admitted to hospital. The following week he was told that they couldn’t treat him because he was too weak, and he was put on palliative care. He spent 3 weeks and 4 days in hospital, and only 4 weeks and one day until he passed suddenly after a trip to the toilet, aged just 72.

We weren’t married and had our own houses, but it worked for us. Because I suffer from depression and generalised anxiety, when he was in hospital for 10 days for the surgery he didn’t allowed me to visit him (supposedly to protect me), only his 3 daughters days in turn, and when he got home I was barely about to spend 2 hours per visit, including celebrating my 60th birthday. When he returned to hospital in October he reluctantly allowed me to visit him, but when he returned home I was not allowed to care for him, and was only allowed to visit him when he wasn’t too tired, which was strictly policed by the 3 daughters. This put me in a state of “pre-bereavement” and when I went to seek advice about this I was largely ignored. I was not with him when he passed. His last words to me were “look after yourself”. I think he knew he was due to pass.
After he passed I had asked his daughters about helping to organise the funeral, and was effectively rejected. I had to fight to get a piper to play music for the hearse’s arrival and his entrance at the funeral. I was granted a “private” viewing at an unsuitable time which was supervised, allegedly for health and safety reasons, and was not allowed any of his ashes nor told when and where they would be scattered. I have not received updates on the complaint made to the health trust over the delayed reporting of the secondary cancer, and I doubt I ever will.

We had shared camping gear in common, and this was eventually dumped on me unceremoniously, along with a few other questionable items including a duvet which I suspect had been on his death bed. Because we were neither married nor civil/common law partners, I have been treated horrendously by his daughters and this has only served to worsen my grief. I feel completely disempowered and like persona non grata. He was my best friend, confidant and soul mate, and we used to travel together to various places both UK and abroad. There were so many places we’d wished to visit. I cannot drive and am too nervous to learn. I am left with only a few precious keepsakes, photos and memories of the man I only realised I loved so much when he was dying.


@EileenK42W what a terribly sad story I’m so sorry for your loss. I wish I could offer you words of comfort that would help in some way, the only thing I can say is that coming on this site has been a great source of support for me and everyone on here. We have all lost a partner and so understand the deep loss and trauma you are going through x

Thanks @Juniper19. It’s great to see so many supportive people on this forum. Sorry that me story was long, but I suppose it reflects the long time I have been having to put up with being badly treated. I have many friends on Facebook, but there is less than a handful of local friends who have tried to be actively supportive to me. They say “be kind”, but some people really don’t have a clue.

His daughters also disallowed me from attending his funeral tea and raising a toast to him along with other members of his family including cousins I hadn’t met. They also accessed his Facebook account which I had set up fir him and changed the password, then de-activated it so that I couldn’t have it memorialised. I am now disallowed from visiting his beloved 98 year old mother or contacting her by phone, as they turned her against me.

@EileenK42W I am so sorry for the way you’ve been treated. I just wanted to let you know you’re not alone. Even though Paul and I were married, his family was incredibly tight-knit - so much so that I never felt part of it (even after 22 years). His daughter (who was 10 when we met) once told me “You’ll never be family because you’re not blood.”

When he passed his family totally took over the funeral arrangements and literally the only thing that I got to decide was a poem. His clothes, the photo, the music, the entourage leaving from his parents home rather than our home. I was too devastated to fight about it and I thought it would help them to do it.

Now it is over they have all totally rejected me. I sent the adult children (30 & 32) some money from his insurance policy that he’d told me he wished them to have. In response I got a truly vile text saying that I’d stolen their dad’s money that he’d worked all his life for and their dad would have bought them a house (!). They said I was a liar for saying that this was his wishes. They clearly thought we had a lot more money than we actually do because there’s no way I could afford to buy them one house, let alone one each! This only further highlighted the fact that I was never accepted by them all.

The amusing thing is that (as far as the money goes) all they had to do was be patient. They whole family knew that I’d made a will leaving them everything (including everything I’ll be earning between now and when I am reunited with Paul). I’ve quite obviously now changed that will and Dogs Trust will benefit.

Paul knew what they were like - that it why we married, to protect me. He didn’t believe in marriage so we lived together for 17 years before we eventually did. He said that he wanted to make sure I was taken care of, because he could leave a Will but he said that he wouldn’t put it past them to contest it. Whereas a marriage was iron-clad. He always did protect me and I miss him so much.

I’m trying to make friends and build a life (slowly) because obviously they have all abandoned me and we had no children of our own so (apart from my dog and my sister who has diminished capacity and lives in a care home) I am alone in this world.

I just wanted to share this so that you’d kmow you’re not alone and neither is your terrible experience, which I suspect is fuelled by jealousy. :heart:


@Reality, thanks for your support. Although we were a couple and had some things in common, we often did our own thing. I never wanted children and I think his girls were jealous of the freedom I had to do my stuff, although only one of them had kids. They always acted as if I was trying to steal their daddy away from them.

John had set up an account in his name for contributions for holidays etc, but it was never spent. His girls were told to make sure I got the money back, but I doubt if I’ll get the full amount once the solicitor takes his cut. On the day that he later died I had said I would like to buy him a ring, as we were “engaged”, and I wear an eternity ring he bought me. He made a rude one-fingered gesture in reply, because he clearly didn’t want another marriage as his ex-wife (the girls’ mother) had taken a log of his pension. Once bitten, twice shy I guess. It makes me wonder if he really loved me as much as I loved him.

My sister who lives a few miles from me estranged herself 3 years ago, and my brother and sister-in-law live in the south of England. I feel vulnerable and worry about what will happen to me if I suffer serious illness.