The first month of being a widower (I hate that word!!)

My beautiful wife passed away on 18th April, when her heart failed in hospital, just one week before our Golden Wedding… I was called in when she went into cardiac arrest, but sadly didnt arrive in time to see her. Those first minutes, hours and days passed in a torrent of emotions such as anger, guilt, regret, and some emotions I couldnt even put a name to. I walked outside the hospital and stood shaking, not knowing what to do. A cleaning lady who talked to me on the ward had followed me outside to make sure I was as ok as possible, and she gave me a hug, which made me feel a bit better. I made one or extremely short phone calls through the tears, and wondered how I was to get home, was driving safe?
Probably not, but I sat quietly for a while and gave myself a good talking to (the first of MANY) pulled my emotions in, and drove home carefully.
I walked into our house and thought, “she’s not here”, and “she never will be again.”
I soon realised we both had a lot more friends than we realised, because people just kept ringing to make sure I was alright, those who lived closer just came round to give me a hug, and share a tear or several.
After a couple of days I started putting my mind to the job in hand, ie putting my new life together.
I soon put together some rules for myself

  1. Never avoid situations which were emotional, face them full on, if I want to collapse in tears, I did just that. I wasn’t going to avoid the emotion, I wanted them to come thick and fast, then I can heal quicker, and my REM sleep will sort it out for me. (You might have to google REM sleep!)
  2. Never have no-go areas because they remind me of her. I WANT REMINDING OF HER!! She had a favourite chair, I now sit in it.
  3. If things of hers didn’t have an emotional attachment, I binned them as soon as reasonable., or send them to the charity shop. There are plenty of her things which she loved, they will never leave!!
    4 I wanted her clothes (LOTS AND LOTS of them) to go. So after a few days, 3 wonderful girl friends of hers turned up and sent them all to charity.
  4. I wanted and succeeded in being aware of my thoughts when I’m feeling thoughtful. Thoughts generate feelings, and in the past I’ve had hypnotherapy for PTSD and this has been great in managing my thoughts, rejecting those which generate negative emotions, whilst welcoming the happy memories. I’m now beginning to smile when I think of her.
  5. People kept telling me to keep busy, so I wont remember, but I WANT TO REMEMBER! My life needs refocussing, and I’m doing this. First thing I rejoined my old Ukulele band, which I enjoy, and met many old pals. I’ve also brought my caravan closer to home, so I can take shortish trips when the mood , and sunshine, tempts me.

We both hated traditional funerals, then down the pub for ham sandwiches and seed cake. So I decided to have a direct cremation, which is this coming friday. No guests attend the funeral, but myself and two of her bestest friends are going to wish her bon voyage by sitting in the garden of remembrance outside, with her 2 dogs she loved)

I wasn’t going to let her go without an opportunity for her friends and I to say goodbye, so I booked a room in a local pub last Friday lunchtime (our wedding anniversary), arranged an excellent buffet and invited one and all to celebrate her life. 40 people turned up, many stood up and told their memories, my mate wrote a tune and played it for her on his guitar. I sang her favourite song to her, as we had photos of her life scrolling by on a large screen. We cried, we laughed, we hugged. A wonderful cathartic event, which none of us will ever forget.
When I got home, I told myself that my new life begins today, I’m going to be positive about everything. Of course I think of her often and I fill up, but that’s good, because I never ever want to forget her, but I always end the thought with a smile.

So here I am, 4 weeks to the day since she died, and if this is how my life is going to be, I can live with it, 90% joy, with her memories sprinkled through the rest.

I forgot to mention, every evening I go and sit in “her” chair, and talk to her about my day, its successes and failures, and what her dogs have got up to etc etc

So face it as full on as you can manage, be positive, it really does get better, but I also recognise our journeys are all different, it’s the price of being human.

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@tykey, how I have loved reading you post and can relate to the many things you have said.
I want to remember everything about my husband too, I have a few special clothes I kept, but most went to charity shop. The only things I have left alone is the tools in his shed. I’ve told our son if he wants anything take them, but he won’t. There is nothing I like better to talk about him with family and friends and I have photos everywhere, and I talk to him every single night when I go to bed telling about my day.
You are right keeping busy and being positive.
Your wife will be looking down on you now and smiling.
Sending love. Debbie X

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Thanks Debbie. Moving things which were special is difficult. My wife, Penny, was a very enthusiastic crafter into knitting machines, cardmaking, embroidery etc etc. Selling them would be difficult, because there are so many things, but I dont want to throw them away. Fate played a hand in that a young Ukrainian girl just walked into our local knitting shop. She had just escaped from Ukraine by jumping on a train to Poland, leaving family and possessions behind. She wants to stay and make a living, knitting and selling items, but had absolutely no equipment. The owner of the shop brought her round to meet me, and I was delighted to give her 8 knitting machines plus dozens of parts, loads of wool, an overlocker and ribber. Penny would have been delighted for her to have them. It’s an ill wind which blows nobody any good!
I had no pictures of Penny on display when she was here. Straight away I framed my favourite photo of her and displayed it prominently, so I can look at her every time I walk by, and smile remembering I’m lucky to have shared her life for 50 years.
I worry about my own tools, with 3 chests of antique woodworking tools, so I had a cunning plan, so my executor doesnt have the same problem. I have created a folder entitled “In the event of my demise…” . In it , among other things, I have left instructions that they should all go to a specific specialist tool auctioneer.

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You and I have such similar thoughts, I have a folder too, leaving letters to both our children, telling them everything they need to know, passwords etc, my paid up funeral plan my will etc, they know to scatter my ashes in the same spot their dad is.
What a lovely thing to do in your wife’s memory, giving her Knitting machines to a family in need that have escaped the horrors of war.
I will be thinking of you on Friday, Penny would be proud of how you are coping.
Debbie X

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Tykey I am amazed at your strength my 22-year-old son died
October 2,2022. For the first 4 months I was going on with my life like nothing happened and something triggered me and all the grief came to surface. Those first 4 months I barely cried now everything is coming out. I wish I could have did that in the beginning but sometimes you get stuck in that denial stage. So now I am dealing with my grief and it’s hard. I had an adult daughter who was 32 years old and she had committed suicide 7 years ago. She was mentally ill and I loved her dearly but my grief at that time was different because I felt like when she died she was out of her pain and was with God. With the death of my son it seems harder because he just was beginning his life. He was such a nice sweethearted kind person. At 17 years old he filled out a donor card and everything that could be donated was. I miss him so much and it feels like a totally different world without him.

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Hi Racy, I always find it difficult how to respond to links on here, but It’s obvious you are having it tough, and I’m really sorry for that.
I’m not brave about my bereavement but I know I have learnt the skills to cope.
Over recent years, my mind was in turmoil over things that happened in my past. I was always allowing my subconscious thoughts to dredge up thoughts I didn’t want, and then they are in my future to go over again and again. I successfully changed that by trying solution focused hypnotherapy which changed the way I was allowing my thinking pattern to hurt me. The key point is that thoughts generate feelings, and bereavement is an avalanche of feelings.
It’s taken a little while to realise that controlling my thoughts controls my feelings. I’m doing that.
I’m now aware of my thoughts and memories, those that hurt me aren’t allowed to come through easily, Those memories I love come through and I smile.
I’m probably sounding like I’m preaching here, I found a link which explains it far better than I can. I didn’t use this, I went to a hypnotherapist, 10 sessions on Zoom, and my life changed.

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Good morning , thanks for replying. No you don’t sound like you’re preaching at all that is very interesting and it makes lots of sense. I know because if I think of something negative my mood changes. I am just not good with my feelings I have a tendency to hold them in and then later on they come out full force. I have a tendency to act like if I don’t experience them they will go away which is nonsense. I was in denial for about 4 months with my son’s death just going along like nothing happened and then something happened that triggered me and now I am really grieving. I’ve only been on here short time but I found out that talking and replying brings up the feelings and that’s not a bad thing because I need to deal with them so I can move on.

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For reasons unknown, I’ve just had an emotional meltdown. I was walking along our beautiful canal towpath with my two little dogs in the sunshine. Suddenly I just welled up with sadness and had to sit down for a good cry for a couple of minutes. I don’t know why, it’s just the way it is (as we all recognise). Very soon I managed to turn my thoughts to "why does a kind, beautiful girl choose to spend 50 years of her life with me? That makes me a VERY lucky man, and I’ll be proud of that. Not everyone can achieve that. So I smiled, and sent my thanks to her. One of the dogs had just fallen into the canal, and I had to rescue her, so I shared a laugh with Penny for that interlude. Every sad thought can have a happy ending !!!

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She choose you because she loves you, just as me and my husband chose each other. If I could relive every moment of our time together I wouldn’t change a thing I would still choose him.
I think sad moments and a good cry does us all good, and little moments like your dog falling in the canal, has made you both smile. As you said even sad moments can have a happy ending x

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@tykey Thank you for your absolutely inspirational post! That’s really helped me this morning. I haven’t stopped crying after losing my partner Stacie to lymphoma coming up to 4 weeks ago now, but reading your post actually really helped. I’m so sorry for your loss, but you seem an incredibly strong person. I thought the same of my Stacie, how is she with me?! I am the luckiest man in the world to have had 6 amazing years with her. Also your little dog falling in the canal made me laugh bless him lol.
Thanks tykey, i hope you have a nice a day as can be expected.
Dan

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Hi Dan. You are a lucky man to have had Stacie in your life. The happy memories you created will surely begin to blank out the incredible emotions we experience. If it wasn’t great, we wouldnt be grieving, would we?
Today has been a strange day for me. At long last it was the day of her cremation. It was a private cremation where nobody attended, but myself and her two best friends all didnt want her cremated with nobody there to wish her well. So we went, and sat and talked about her on a bench in the gardens outside the crematorium. I went off on my own with her dogs, leant against a tree, and talked to her about how much I loved and missed her for a little while. We stayed for about one hour and then went off to have a lovely breakfast, sitting alfresco on the banks of our beautiful canal.
Of course I had a few tears, but in a strange way it has brought a sense of finality and clarity, and I am feeling like my life can really restart now. At the darkest times, I kept thinking the agony will never end, but it does!!
One odd thing is when I get upset, one of the dogs (a wonderful 3 year old Poochon) immediately runs over and hurls herself at me until I pick her up and she gives my face a lick or several. Its almost as if she’s saying that everything will be alright, just hang in there!
I’ll still shed a few tears from time to time, and I’ll often chat and play my guitar to her. I know that’s what she would want, except for the guitar playing because she thought I was rubbish!!
We can do this!!!
One final thing I have to do for her is make sure my ashes are mixed with hers and to be spread on the beach at Cemlyn Bay, in Anglesey. I told her, she’ll just have to be patient.

We rarely seem to put pictures on here, so I’ll start a new trend and post one of my lovely Penny

And here’s the song I sang to her at her memorial bash (I’m learning to play it on my guitar, so I can do a full job

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@tykey, thank you, that song was beautiful, I’ve not heard it before. I sure you sing and play it beautifully to Penny.

My ashes will be scattered in Looe where Doug’s were scattered on his birthday last October.
My wonderful Doug

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@tykey what a lovely song, I’m sure you sung it beautifully, like Debbie57 said. And what a lovely picture of your Penny. I’m sorry you had a tough day, but it sounds amazing along your canal!

@debbie57 lovely picture of your Doug. I’ll carry it on and post a picture of my beautiful Stace, taken far too young at 27 x

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@Djwg24 what a lovely photo she is very beautiful, I’m so sorry for you loss. :heart:

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Thank you so much Debbie. She is absolutely beautiful, inside and out.

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Yes, very beautiful. a lovely enigmatic smile and amazing eyes

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Thank you so much tykes.

*Tykey not tykes! Apologies

Hello Tykey
I came across your posts via the newsletter (Not one of ‘my’ threads, tho I see my friend Racy from elsewhere has posted here.)
Just wanted to say how inspiring your writing about Penny has been. It must be a great help to others in your or similar situations. It’s so good that you can see so much that’s positive, when many are sunk in darkness.
Thank you for posting, love, Ann

Hi. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I’m so sorry for your loss. My husband died on the 19th March this year. Such a shock as We had had a lively day with family & we’d just gone to a supermarket for a few bits. He never said he felt unwell until a few mins before when he said he felt tired - then he collapsed and hit his head and never woke up. His heart was obviously very poorly but we didn’t know. It’s so hard to carry on but I guess each day we wake up we just have to. Don’t think it will ever be the same again but just trying to deal with whatever the day brings. I keep busy during the day but the evenings are the worst. He was such a positive man so trying to stay that way & think of what he would say & do. It helps a little. X

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