Tykey's personal story of my journey out of the grief.


I always believed that grief is something we travel through, and not a lifetime sentence. Those who know more about these things say that the journey through grief typically takes between 6 and 18 months. Mine has taken 8 or 9 months, so I must be pretty average.

It’s been tough, but I’ve never given up with my positive attitude, and its served me well.

I hope this story encourages some to believe that getting through our grief is possible, and it helps them on this terrible journey.


10 months ago, on April 18th my life changed when Penny died. After I had said my last goodbyes to her in the hospital, I walked out of the hospital in turmoil/panic/tears/shaking/fear etc. Every emotion known to man (and a few more) took over, and I thought “what do I do now?” I had no idea, but bit by bit I sorted it out in my head, and now, 10 months later, I’m pretty happy again. It’s not like it was of course, but I’ve not got to this point by forgetting Penny (that would be impossible) but I’m always thinking of her, grateful for her sharing 50 years of her life, creating loads of happy memories which I very often recall with a smile

When I first saw her sitting in a pub with her friends over 50 years ago, I thought she was prettiest girl I’d ever seen, and how could a young man like me ever get a girl like that. Remember that song, Some Enchanted Evening?? It was just like that. If someone had said I would finish up being married to that girl and share my life with her, I couldn’t have believed it.

She died one month before our golden wedding, and I can’t really recall that month. There were lots of practical things to do. We had two lovely little dogs, which she cared for nearly all the time, and I promised her that I would give them all the care and love she gave them. I had to register the death, I had to sort out the arrangements with banks etc. So that kept me busy.

The major thing to arrange was the funeral. We both hated traditional funerals, we weren’t religious, and saw them as morbid so I decided we would have a direct cremation with nobody attending. In the event myself and two of her bestest friends (plus her dogs) went to the crematorium at the appropriate time, sat in the garden outside, and said goodbye to her, then went off to breakfast and talked about her.

I couldn’t let her go without celebrating her life, so I booked a lovely separate room in a local pub, provided a buffet, and invited one and all to come along. It was our Golden Wedding anniversary, so it seemed appropriate. Many people wanted to speak and talked about her memory, photos of her life scrolled on a large screen. One of our musical friends wrote a guitar tune in her memory, I sang her favourite song to her. We had loads of hugs/tears and laughter, and we all went away as happy as it was possible to be, almost everybody said they now wanted to do the same.

I went home thinking, “right! My new life starts now, get on with it!!”


The first decision was that I would NOT have a shrine to her and nor would I have ”no go” areas. I didn’t need reminding she wasn’t there, I’d never forget that one!! So I immediately went and sat in “her” chair, and often talked to her about the successes and failures in my day, and what mischief the dogs had got up to. I often cried, but when that happened one of my dogs always hurtled onto my chest and stared into my eyes and licked my tears dry, as if to say “It’ll be ok Dad, I’m here!”

In the early days, I began to realise how many supportive friends we had. People calling in for a chat/cuppa and to listen to me offloading my thoughts, plus offering any practical help I needed. Not one of them said anything like “what you need to do is…….”

I sometimes have a bit of a “down” day, (don’t we all?) but my brother always points out that I had “down” days before she died, so that’s no issue is it!

I needed to sort out the things which needed to be done, such as sorting out her clothes, and the piles of shoes and handbags. Her 3 best female friends all got together and came over to do that! I sorted out her jewellery and gave it to our female friends and relatives. We forced ourselves to have a few laughs while doing it. All I kept was her wedding ring, which I now wear on my left hand, with my ring on my right.

I went up into the peak district with my caravan, to think. It didn’t really help because it was too early. But something happened which turned me in the right direction. I went into Bakewell to do some shopping, it was a stinking hot day, and I bought a coffee at a pavement café. There was very little shade except one table under a wisteria. There was a lady (about my age) sat there and she invited me to join her. We got chatting and she figured out not all was well with me, and she talked and listened to me. I remember she said “Well, how do you want your new life to be? I’d never given it a thought before!!. So I started writing my thoughts on a table napkin.

It had things like:

Stay in the house we shared for 50 years, but make it more suitable for a man 75 years old and increasing.

Become a gentle old man who chatted to strangers outside café’s

Live a simple frugal life, so money wouldn’t be an issue.

Never miss up an opportunity to make friends, and to accept invitations from people

Rejoin my ukulele groups, and buy a new guitar

Tour the Outer Hebrides

Buy an economical, reliable, newish car. (we had two cars before, so when my old bangers broke down (a frequent occurence) I could always borrow hers.)

Etc, etc

It’s been refined as I go along, but it was a turning point, that realisation that I need a PLAN!!, and then ACTIONS to achieve it. If I just sat in misery, I’d do that for the rest of my life, that’s not on, Penny would hate it for me as well. We shouldn’t keep doing exactly the same thing, yet expect the result to be different (It Doesn’t happen!)

I’m pleased to say that the lady in Bakewell has remained a firm friend now

I started booking holidays. I’ve already been to the Outer Hebrides, I’ve booked a glamping holiday in Pembrokeshire, booked a motorhome to do a bit of touring, and booked a narrow boat. I’m looking forward to these. I’m even booked to fly a spitfire and have a dog fight (simulated, of course)

It’s probably appropriate to mention that I now have two new female friends with whom I go for walks and meals. One of them thought I was creating a hareem, and I call them hareem1 and hareem2. It was very strange to do anything with another woman, after having the same woman by my side for 50 years! But we almost immediately made it clear that none of us wanted anything more than a platonic friendship, so no stress!


One factor in the process of grief, is that I was fully aware that grief/tears etc are all caused by our thoughts.

I was very fortunate that I have suffered from PTSD, and that’s very similar to grief, with continually recycling thoughts with no possibility of resolving them. I’m not fortunate from having suffered from PTSD, but at least I had huge success with curing this by having hypnotherapy, and learnt how to stop my thoughts beating me up, and this skill has been a HUGE help in getting through my grief.

In common with almost all of us, we all seem to have regrets about our lives and my bereavement, and have thoughts like

What did she mean when she said that?

I wish I’d done that

I wish I hadn’t done that

I wish that didn’t happen, both caused by me, and caused by her. (We were both human, with human frailties)

Etc etc.

When I calmed my brain down, it soon becomes obvious that most of the things we dream up are either unfounded, insignificant. so I could forget them, and I did! I forgave her, and forgave her (see The Lords Prayer)


I’m getting on with what remains of my life, reasonably content, without grieving, but with my memories of Penny always available to call on, and make me smile, remembering that I’m an extremely lucky man to have shared 50 years with her!

If I could give someone the most helpful advice, it would be to decide how you want your new life to be, and make a positive plan of action to make it happen. Without a plan, nothing will change and we risk staying deep in the pain of grief.

You can get through it, even though you might not see the way.

Good luck everybody!


Thank you, @tykey.
Your story is full of sound guidance- you are amazing and your darling wife, Penny, would be so proud of you x

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Thank you for taking the time to write your journey. It gives hope when everything is unclear. X

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Thanks @Helen17 . It’s difficult to see any way forward in the early days. There’s no quick fix, with all the thoughts and emotions hammering around in our heads with no way of getting them out. It feels like our heads will explode. But given patience, the brain storm abates and clarity of what to do starts peeping through more and more.

We always believe what we tell ourselves, so never accept negative thoughts without challenging them


Your story is very helpful and true to what I have experienced and it has been a very tricky 3 years since he has gone. I met my husband at 17 and we had 50 years together also. I suffered PTSD and still do, as I wish I had done this and that in his final week and I go over his illness etc. I also have good days where I remember all our happiest times, I have kept myself busy with new hobbies, tai chi, swimming and painting. I also play scrabble and have made new friends there.

I am pleased to say my husband was such a lovely man and I was proud to be his wife.

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Wow this is exactly what I needed to read today.I get everything you have written and tom I am going to draw up a plan.Today has been the worse day for me after my mum passed away 7weeks ago and my poor hubby doesn’t know what to do to help me.
Thank you for what you wrote bless you You have helped me so much.I don’t feel up to making plans for my life just yet but will do weekly plans so I can get through the next few weeks and months.
Your lovely Penny would be so proud of you.
Thinking and thanking you

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Thankyou @seychelles, Im delighted my experiences have helped. Seven weeks is still very early in your journey.
I dont think your poor hubby can do very much, other than be quietly supportive. Nobody could tell me what to do, because they had no idea what chaos was going on in my head. I found that just knowing people cared was far more important than practical help. I was blessed because most of my friends seemed to understand, and I understood that they were grieving as well.
Those who were most helpful just kept in touch and sat quietly as I talked about my memories and issues with the odd leading question
I remember one particular friend who asked me what my favourite memory was, and sat quietly when I shared it.
Good luck, I hope your journey unfolds nicely.


Hi ,
Yes agree it hasn’ t been long. It was all so sudden though as I guess so many deaths are.My mum was being sick for almost two days and when she went into hosp they found she had a blockage in her small intestine so they could only do an emergency operation.Ad she was 89 they said she was too old despite walking a month previously with me in the Snowdonia mountains and paddling in the Sea.I had no choice but to watch her deteriorate for five weeks before she passed away.Luckiky I brought her home for the past three weeks so could tell her everything j wanted to say and had 24/7quality time with her.
I feel so lost without her and have had really bad day when I just want to join her. Today was one of those days when I couldn’t see the wood for the trees.Ended up staying in bed most of today.When I read your post I realised I need a plan so I have just written it for tom anyway.i intend writing one every night then ticking off what I have done by the next night.it will at least give me a focus and some sense of achievement in this horrible time.
How did your glamping holiday in Pembrokeshire go.Only asking as we live in Pembrokeshire.Its a beautiful part of the world to live with lovely beaches etc
Thanks once again for your post bec something had to drag me out of this awful pit I was in today

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Thank you Tykey, for your beautiful message.
It has given me the strength to try to begin the next phase of my life.
I have been without my husband for nearly 6 months, and after 53 years together, it’s so very hard, but i am starting to think about what my life could be like.
Like you, i feel that i would like to live more frugally, less rush and less expectations.
So we will see.
I have been blessed with a good man to share most of my life with, i have lots of wonderful memories and i will cherish Ken and take him with me always.
My family and friends are so kind and supportive, i am so lucky to have them…
I wish you a lovely life, wherever fate takes you.

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I forgot to mention that Bakewell was a favourite with both of us .

Im absolutely delighted that my story seems to be encouraging people to get through their grief. My motivation was that so many threads are people who are stuck in their grief, and sadly, forums always seem to be negative, because those who have been successful have left and are getting on with the next chapter of their lives, leaving others behind.
I thought Id mention two things which have been huge in helping me to design my new chapter.
There are the two little dogs who demand my care and provide endless reasons for striving on, such as walkies and laughs

I was previously slightly interested in playing some music, but I never put in enough work, so I was never any good. I only had one ukulele, but Ive started taking it seriously. Ive still got a long way to go, but Ive got good enough to go jamming with my mates. There is a syndrome with owning one instrument, that new ones keep appearing.

I can hear Penny chuntering about “how many do you need? Stop creating clutter!”


Tykey’s positive approach might not “appeal” just now depending on where you are on your journey. But it’s worth giving the plan a go isn’t it?
One positive thought in the morning can change your day.

G. X


It’s good to hear some positive thoughts while never denying your sadness and great loss.


Hi Tykey’s
How wonderful. Keep on with the music if you can.
Just want to say your post really helped me when i read it last night and i hope you feel chuffed about that. After reading it I made a start and wrote a list of to do things for today. Just today though as I didn’t want to run before I could walk so to speak !
Well I got up not like yesterday and have made a start on the list. It’s not a very glam list just things to do around the house and to go out for the first time in 10 days but its a plan anyway. Maybe people will think i am bonkers but who cares. I am trying to help myself in a small way.
Thank you again Tykey
Deborah x


@seychelles . Good luck Deborah, go steady at first, it reminds me of the question “how do you eat an.elephant?” Answer " a bit at a time".
My glamping holiday isnt until April 1st, and is on the Carmarthenshire border near Newcastle Emlyn. Can’t wait!

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@tykey Stayed in Newcastle Emlyn a few years ago with my late wife. Lovely part of the world, especially Cenarth Falls which is a must to see. Good luck and take care x

Make sure you go to a place near Carmarthen called Llanstephan You will love it. Get in touch before you go and I will let you know places to visit We live in Haverfordwest not far
I will go steady lol
Deborah x

Aww lovely Cenarth Falls is a must to visit along with the coracle museum next to the river. Watch out for the salmon leaping over the falls. It’s a beautiful place for photography so take your camera Tykey
Deborah x

Yes and the mill over the other side is also worth a visit, you’ll need your flash though as it is quite dark in there. Got some good pictures at the time.

I’m addicted to farmhouse cheeses, and Pembrokeshire has more than any other county. So much for the diet!