Sudden departure of a Life-long partner

I’ve finally mustered enough courage to write here. Sorry if it’s too vivid and long… I don’t know who to talk to and i am in total darkness and sometimes guilt…

It’s been nearly two months since my partner passed away in front of me at home. We’d known each other for more than 17 years, and been living together for 15 years… He moved from his home country UK to start a new life with me in HK.

He was feeling a bit of back-pain and stiff back muscle on Thursday, I rubbed some Tiger Balm ointment on his back and the stiffness went away on Friday. He felt tired and slept a lot on Thursday and Friday without much appetite but was drinking a lot of energy drink and coke.
It was like he had a flu but no fever… Could still walk and answer the door, some friends he tutored and I asked him to see the doctor but he always said another day. I didn’t want to force him because he said ‘I don’t like hospital because my aunt went in and never came out.’

On Saturday and Sunday I didn’t work and stayed at home for him, he ate some plum, rice porridge and some biscuits and seemed ok. He could still fetch water and go to the toilet on his own. Monday morning he was coughing on the sofa when I got up at 6:00am he said he couldn’t breathe for a min, he asked me to light him a menthol cigarette to soothe his throat, after having a drag he said he felt better, i told him i am calling the ambulance, he was like ‘I need to clean myself first because haven’t had shower for two days’, i offered to wipe him with a wet towel and told him not to move. He then asked me to get him some glucose drinks and a sandwich from the store downstairs. It took me around 3-5 mins to get back from the store. He must had walked like 10 metres to the office from the sofa and I found him lying on the computer room’s floor, but his back was leaning on some stuff (the room was cluttered), imagine the pose when you lay on a beach lounge chair… He was still conscious and said ‘its a bit uncomfy laying here, help me up’, I tried but I couldn’t as he was like 260 lbs. I called the ambulance immediately and he slowly lost consciousness before they arrived. I suppose i should had tried to move him to perform CPR, but i was afraid of hurting him and all I could do was taking his portable fan to blow some air on his face… After he fell unconscious, some coke he drank earlier flew out of his nose, i was so scared and at a loss as to what to do… Three strong paramedics had arrived maybe within 5-7mins, it was a hard job for them to get him out of the apartment … They did try CPR and an injection on his leg but i could tell from their faces that he was gone… Later at the ER they tried as well but to no avail… Then i had to deal with the policemen because it was a sudden case. He left me at the age of 66.

I now need to deal with this sudden grief, we were planning to move before and it’s so difficult to deal with his belongings… I managed to almost clear the room where it all happened, but sometimes i feel i cannot breathe and there’s a weight in my chest… I miss him everyday, I think of him first thing when i wake up, i cannot work because I need to sort out the apartment.

Now i think i might had overlooked the signs of his illness, the report is supposed to be out soon but i think i will be afraid to look, the paramedics said he had sign of stomach bleeding but the doctor had no clue. I’m so sad, so lost and hopeless at times. I have some emotional support from his friends and relatives but I still feel nothing matters now for me anymore…


Hi Riley. I was so very sorry to read your post. I too lost my husband in September, and I feel exactly as you do. Hard as is it, you can’t blame yourself for your husband’s reluctance to get medical help. It’s something many men do. My husband was the same, but in the end it made little difference. There’s regret and fate and a vast chasm between the two.
I hope that in time you will be able to absorb the information in the PM report and stop blaming yourself.
It’s probably true to say that however our loved ones die, we always blame ourselves in some way for something, whatever it is. Certainly I have many regrets and self-recriminations.
Your husband would not want you to bear this guilt on top of your grief.
Please keep on posting here, and talk to your friends and family about how you feel. Counselling helps when you are ready for it.
You are so very far away, but I wish I could sit with you and give you a hug. Christie xxx

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Thank you for your kind thought and advice, Christie, it means a lot to me.
You have my deepest condolences for your irreplaceable loss. It’s like we are now out on the darkest ocean, and it reassures me a little by sharing with someone who is in the same boat. He taught me how to be kind, how to love and how to live life to the fullest… I hope one day our loving memories will pull us through this unbearable grief. xxx

Thank you Riley. You express what we’re going through so well. We reach out in cyberspace and find comfort. Your husband sounds like mine - he made my wildest dreams come true. It’s very late now for you - I hope you are sleeping. I haven’t been to Hong Kong for many years, but I have family in Singapore. Please keep in touch. Christie xxx

@Riley thank you for posting. I am very upset right now at 4am UK time and reading your long post several times is helping me as I feel a lot of it too.

I am very sorry that this happened to you and your lovely husband. You obviously tried hard to help him and it is normal to think you could have done something to save him but you tried everything your best at the time with the info you had right then. please don’t think you had any fault here, he was lucky you were there with him looking after him your best knowing how you cared in those moments at the end of his life.

How do you feel today?

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Thank you Fleur, I haven’t been able to sleep very well, I ended up watching ‘Miranda’ on BBC iplayer til like 5 am, it was a mixture of tears and laugh because I miss him a lot… We used to watch a lot of BBC comedies together.
I think i slept for 5 hrs or so…
I am preparing for the removal, we’d planned to move together to a new place with lower rent since August. It’s really hard doing everything on my own without him, I always had him for the previous moves before. It feels like I am losing a little part of something we shared every time I throw out a piece of old item or furniture, especially in the room where it all happened…

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Hi @Riley. I am facing the same thing - we got another house in January, before COVID struck and the world came to a halt. I have exactly those feelings - I will have to abandon some furniture, no room in the new house. But I have to decided to keep all his clothes, especially underwear and socks. I know this sounds absolutely crazy, but I will eventually get a patchwork quilt make using his shirts and I’ll use his socks and underwear as filling. That way, in a sense, we will always sleep together.
The only suggestion I can make is be sure to take plenty of photos for the future and also accept any help you are offered - apart from the most personal things, you don’t have to do this alone.
Christie xxx

Dear @Christie, I have packed like 4 suitcases lot of his clothes. I can’t bear throwing them away… I was thinking of a memory quilt as well, but for now, they are just a constant reminder of his physical absence for me… You should do whatever suits you, it’s a very personal thing, you aren’t crazy at all.
You are right about asking for help. Today a friend came over to remove some furniture with me. Before he left, I thanked him and we had a hug…
You have more time than me to decide what to keep, take it easy.

It’s been two months since I lost my husband from a sudden unexpected death and like you I’ve tortured myself to think could I have done more and should I have seen any signs. We had been married for 43 days which were the happiest days of my life. Friends tell me how lucky I was to have that kind of love, but I sometimes think having known how life can be and knowing I’ll never have that again is tearing me apart.

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Hello, @Helpme,

I am really sorry you didn’t get to spend more time with your loving husband… There are days I think to myself it will be great if I don’t wake up in the morning, because the immense emptiness and sadness hit me every morning when i open my eyes, realising it’s going to be another day without him…

You are not alone at all… XXX