My Wife

I lost my wife recently to small cell lung cancer. She was diagnosed in February and gone by November. Our marriage didn’t last 6 months but we had 22 years of life together. Some monstrous, some brilliant, mostly unbelievable.

A very good friend suggested that I try writing about things as a way to process and reflect. I’ve spent the last 12 hours sitting scrolling through all the sharing on here and I felt as if this would be the place to give it a go.

I met her at Art School in the late 90’s, we were both there by accident, both in our late 20’s and both had baggage from our past. She’d been struggling with schizophrenia where she’d been sectioned a couple of times, I’d just come through a rocky divorce that saw me dabbling with heroin. We circled each other for a year or so before we got together, but when we did we knew very quickly it was forever. We made each other whole, support and admonition in equal measure, always pushing each other on. Her mental health stabilised, I cleaned up my act.

We graduated. She was offered shows in major galleries, I worked for international artists. We worked together on many, many art installations and made friends from all over the world. We travelled with work and had a wild, wild time. We were both from the suburbs, 80’s kids, working class. We couldn’t believe where we were. Then it all ended, her schizophrenia relapsed and so began a decade or so of enforced hospitilisations, increasingly invasive and destructive medication. It came to a point where the only option on the table was a drug that would require monthly blood cell counts and a raft of ridiculous side effects. We wouldn’t, couldn’t accept it.

A new consultant, a different approach and a glimmer of hope. An untried medication, and it gave her the breathing space. She came off her section, came home and we worked together to get her better. She came off her medication of her own accord, we set up protocols and checks and moved through the aftermath. We relied on each others honesty and formed a trust that got her through to the other side. She began making art again, printing, illustration, painting. She worked at it for years. It paid off, she was picked up by a major games designer and they started to commission her work. She then convinced them to commission me. She told her psychiatrist that it was over and they parted company.

Which brings us to 2020 and the pandemic. For us it was as scary as for everyone, but the games industry went into ovrerdrive, we spent the whole time snowed under with work. For the first time in both our lives we had money. We were both 50, renting, no children. When the dust settled we realised we had quite a bit of capital, not enough to buy a house but not far off. So we quit our flat of 22 years and moved to rent in the country, we’d work another couple of years, have a look around and buy somewhere. We moved in here on christmas eve 2021, one room dedicated as a studio for us both. She started coughing up blood on Christams day. Misdiagnosed as various things and not taken seriously until she was flat on her back by February.

And now she’s gone and I sit here with our one remaining cat wondering what the f***k just happened there? This was meant to be her time, her chance to shine. I can’t believe she’s gone. I see all your posts and I think how is it possible for you to experience my pain, why is that possible? How can any of you ever know?

And today I realised. It doesn’t matter about our story, we all have the same thing to say. People come into your life and suddenly, before you know whats happened, they’re part of you. We share dreams, look to the future, make plans, relate. But it’s that ‘suddenly’ part that is key, because it’s not suddenly, we know it’s happening and it’s what love is: someone else becoming part of you and more importantly you being willing to accept that bond. Releasing part of yourself to the care of another.

Is it weird that we take so much comfort in relating to the suffering of strangers? No. I feel the pain in my breast, the guilt over what I may have been able to do differently, the fear for the future. I’m really scared about forgetting what she looks like without a photograph to remind me. I’ve lost people before and I know that’s how it goes. I already have to imitate her laugh everyday, just to make sure I can.

I watched her disappear bit by bit for the last 9 months. First it was the joy of the future, then the joy of tomorrow, then today. I’ll never forget how she handled it, how people told me she was so strong. But I know it wasn’t like that, she cried, she broke down, she comforted me. It was the most priviledged place I’ve ever been to, and I’d do it all again. To accompany someone to face death in all it’s utter inevitability has been an education that will take me a long time to understand. She held my hand as she went in and I still feel her hand in mine.

Thank you all for sharing, it’s helped me today and i hope all I’ve told you helps someone else. We’re not alone. There is a way through.

My friend was right, it’s been good to write this down. Exhausting and tear driven but good.

Walan X


Hi @Walan

I can see that you’re new to the community, so I wanted to say that I am so sorry for the loss of your wife that brings you here. I hope you find the community to be a support to you. Thank you for bravely starting this thread - you have been heard and you’re not alone :blue_heart:

I’m sure someone will be along to offer their support, but I wanted to share a few Sue Ryder resources with you that may help you right now.

I hope you feel you can access more support should you need it and please remember that the community is here for you anytime you may need to come and write things or get things off your chest.

Thank you again for sharing and please keep reaching out.

Take good care,


1 Like

Hi @Walan
So sorry you have had to join here for the reason we all have, the loss of the love of our lives. What an honour to be given your story; thank you.
I hope you will find people who understand your grief and be able to share any ideas we have to help each other. x