Lost my soulmate and best friend

I lost my amazing partner of 45 years, Pwl, on the evening of 28th May. He was only 63. He was diagnosed with cancer of the small bowel in August 2019. Unfortunately the cancer had spread to his lungs and liver and although the operation to remove the tumour was a success, the chemotherapy was not and we were told in January 2020 that there was nothing more that could be done as the chemo was not working. All this came as somewhat of a shock to us as neither of us had been ill with anything more than a cold or flu prior to this. In a way I was lucky - we had nearly 5 months together to say goodbye, put his affairs in some sort of order, and up until the very end he was still able to do some of the things he enjoyed despite being on all sorts of drugs and oxygen. Pwl was a very active man, an engineer, a doer, an inventor, and very, very stubborn. He was still fiddling about with little electronics projects up until 2 days before he died. He died at home, peacefully (thanks to the drugs) and I was with him, as was a close friend. I was holding his hand as he died. I was his sole carer up until the very end when a friend and an over-night carer came to help. At his own wish, he had a direct cremation which happened yesterday and plan to scatter his ashes and have a proper celebration of his life once the COVID restrictions are relaxed and we can have large gatherings again. He wanted money spent on a party for all his friends not a funeral! Again, at his request, I have put a memorial page for him on Facebook (he never used social media himself when he was alive) and have been adding a few photos and memories every day. It’s lovely to read the things our friends are adding to the page, and I find it helpful to go through our photos and see pictures of him. My friends are all being very kind and making sure I’m OK every day.

I’m not OK though. I’m devastated. I’ve lost my soul-mate, my best friend, lover, and the one person who really understood me. We were a team - a good team, and had a full and exciting life together supporting each other through the hard times, and enjoying the good ones. We met when we were 18, and although never formally married (as neither of us were religious), we considered ourselves so. We talked about having a Civil Partnership, but these only became available to opposite-sex couples too late for us - his illness got in the way. We did manage to sort out wills and powers of attorney before he was too ill to leave the house, so I don’t have immediate financial worries.
Now I’m alone in the big farmhouse we have rented for the past 15 years and it’s full of all his/our projects, finished and unfinished. I know he wanted me to carry on with our little woodturning business and at some point I probably will, but right now I just can’t. The workshop is full of his tools and bits and pieces and I will need to make sure they don’t go rusty. The house is a mess as we had to move loads of stuff to fit in the medical equipment and a downstairs bed, and I’m finding it so, so, hard to clear anything up - not helped by the COVID situation. Charity shops aren’t open - so I have all his clothes bagged up and ready to go still cluttering. the place up - plus all those unfinished projects to be sorted out.
And on top of all this I am really not OK. I started smoking again having stopped for nearly 10 years. I can sleep as I’m so tired by the end of each pointless day where I feel I have achieved nothing. I have a horrid knot of anxiety stuck in my stomach which means I don’t feel like eating and when I do the food is tasteless and boring. The future seems pointless, empty and lonely. I’m not breaking down in tears very often and I don’t find it helps when I do - it makes me feel horrible and almost like I’m about to have a panic attack and it seems like a deep dark hole I’ll never climb out of. Mostly I’m just deeply, deeply sad and very scared of what the future might hold and then I’ll notice something of his and remember his plans for it that will now never happen and I’lI find a lump in my throat and my eyes wet with tears.
I feel like I’m letting him down. He wouldn’t have wanted me to be like this. He’d want me to get on with things, get things done. I feel it’s somehow disrespectful to him to even consider not working on some of the unfinished projects we were doing together, and even more so to consider disposing of some of the ones he was working on alone and I do not have the knowledge to finish. There is a lot of his equipment and electronic components that I will never use and he wanted this stuff handed on to friends that could make use of it - but with COVID restrictions I can’t even do that. It’s even difficult to take rubbish to the tip with the COVID restrictions - queues and getting permits :frowning:
His ashes are being returned to me tomorrow - maybe that will make me feel more motivated as I might feel he is more here with me. He left instructions as to the scattering of his ashes but I am thinking of keeping a small amount to have made into jewellery so I can keep a bit of him with me forever.
I find I can’t concentrate properly, and my memory is shot so I have to write things down that I wouldn’t have normally. Some of the anxiety I’m feeling has been with me since his diagnosis - and he was so strong and so philosophical about death - and he was the one that could make my anxieties go away. Now I’m just bored and angry at what I’m feeling. The sadness I can cope with and I know it will probably be with me for many years to come - and I find it can be mitigated by looking at photos, remembering the good times and the laughter, his kindness, generosity, humour and clever, practical skills - but the anxiety and fear are something else entirely - and I really hope that with time they will fade. I lost both my parents 20 and 11 years ago but they were both in their 90s and I found their deaths much easier to cope with - very sad at the time yes, and I still miss them both, but there was not this fear and anxiety overlaying everything as well. It’s like I’ve lost my sense of safety and security and am cast adrift and in harsh and unkind world. Pwl had no living family when he died, and I live a long way from my brother and his family - and we were never close. I have some good friends nearby and they were a great support in the first few days - but because of COVID only the friend that was helping with Pwl’s care at the end can actually visit - and I can’t put upon her all the time. I don’t find video calls very good at all as the internet where I live is quite slow and phone calls are just not the same - and I’ve always preferred emails or text messaging.

Thanks you for bothering to read this rambling post - I think it has been helpful to write down my story and my feelings.

Dear sad magpie, I am truly sorry for your loss. I’m glad you’ve found this site and I hope you find it some form of comfort. I know I have. Every one on here will understand the symptoms of grief you describe. You are not alone.
I’m a big believer in writing thoughts and feelings down; I find I always feel a sense of relief after. I could actually feel the mania and panic in your writing - I remember it so well at the beginning of my grief journey which started three years ago. When my husband passed, we had unfinished projects which I set to and got finished, always looking for approval from my man. I wish he’d been here to see those things finally completed. He would have been chuffed to bits. He also left an unfinished kit car he’d been building. Sadly, this went to auction as I couldn’t possibly complete that and so it would have just lain there, deteriorating with time. I know David would have wanted it finished and driven. We do what we think is best.

I keep a journal in which I write to my husband. It’s a coping strategy and it works for me. I tell him all sorts of stuff, how I’m feeling, how I love and miss him, what’s happening in my life - anything and everything. It’s my way of keeping him close and involved.

Sleep is still spasmodic but I cope. I’m not tired during the day so I guess I must be getting enough rest.

I wrote the following to another poster on this site and it’s relevant for you too:

Your grief is so raw, take is easy, take it slowly. In the words of a children’s story book ‘We can’t go under it, we can’t go over it, we have to go through it.’ And that’s exactly what we do, we go through it, but we never quite come out the other end. Perhaps a better description is to say we move forward with our grief and our grief moves forward with us. Grief becomes our new companion. It’s been three years this month since I lost the most amazing man in the world. Whilst it doesn’t define me, my grief is now a part of who I am. I carry my grief with pride. It reminds me that the rarest soul in the world was mine, is mine still, will always be mine. Of course, I would much rather he was here in person but that can’t be. I do feel him all around me though. I live with his spirit which is better than not living with him at all. My love for him continues to grow, filling my heart almost to bursting point. I can smile, laugh, sing and dance again. I can know a certain happiness and contentment, always carrying my husband with me. None of this will be be of any solace to you at the moment, but I wanted you to know that there is a future. Not the future we had planned but a different future. I wanted you to know that there is hope. There is hope.

I remember the early days, after my loss, only too well. The pain was agonising, excruciating. There’s no pain on earth like it. The tears just kept flowing. How was I ever going to move forward? I had no idea and I still have no idea but I do know that I have. It just happened - slowly, gradually.’

Sending love and strength xx


Thank you for reading and for your kind reply. After writing my message I actually felt a bit better, the anxiety eased off and I got some things done today. And a memory a friend posted on the FB memorial page for Pwl actually made me laugh and reminded me of some happier times.

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Hi S like you I lost my husband of 36 years to bowel cancer unfortunately for us it was not picked up on the 2 colonoscopys this was done in January I knew he was not right losing weight etc endoscopy x-rays carried out in feb then sent for Ct scan end feb which revealed bowel cancer which had spread to liver and lungs a treatment plan was going to be put in place the day before his bowel ruptured and survived 2 days. Like your husband he was full of life funny strong man with it until 2 hours before he died. I have my husbands ashes I am having jewellery made for my son and daughter and scattering the rest where he told me after this lockdown I will carry out his wishes. You can only do what you feel it’s so hard and I am sorry for your loss x

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So sorry sad magpie. My wife aged 53 also suddenly passed on the 28 may. I have only just started using this site and I find sharing about my wife helps a little. Also knowing you are not on your own and although each situation is different there will be similarities. I daily struggle as was given hours to be with my wife after she was admitted to hospital for a routine procedure. Then told week later she had cancer and only hours left.
Even what I’m putting here helps a little. But I wish I had an answer to the pain. Me and others will understand but as with own pain find it hard to get through each hour.

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