Utter despair and loneliness

Two weeks ago (almost), I lost my life partner and soulmate of over 30 years to breast cancer. I was with her at the hospice, holding her hand when she died. I now feel utterly bereft and just have no idea how I’m going to live out the rest of my days without her.

I’m 57 and Jude was 60. She was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, had a dreadful experience going through chemo, surgery to remove her breast, lymph clearance and radiotherapy. She was given the ‘all clear’ in 2017!

Roll forward to 2018 and she had a bit of a cough so I nagged her to go to the GP. Because of her history, the GP arranged a chest x-ray and it all went bad from there. We were sitting in the kitchen on her birthday in October opening cards and prezzies and the phone goes. I answer it and it’s the GP surgery … she needs to go in to see the GP today … no, it’s her birthday (couldn’t you have waited a day?) … so, her 60th birthday is ruined by panic.

From that point on, life has been an absolute rollercoaster from being told she had lung, liver and bone metastasis, being admitted to hospital after her first round of Chemo because she had a bad infection, to being told the chemo was working well. She had a CT scan before we had our holiday in June but we decided to wait until we came home for the results. We were elated because the oncologist said the CT results were very positive, but she was to keep going on the Heeceptin and Perjeta plus another drug.

A couple of weeks later, after a regular blood test she had a call from the oncologist to say the cancer markers had shot up, but it was probably an anomaly. However a CT was organised (on a day I was working) and she was called in within the week to be given the news that the cancer had significantly accelerated and the prognosis was bad. A matter of weeks.

And so it was. The hospital handed off responsibility to our local hospice and community team. She deteriorated far faster than I could ever have expected, initially difficulty in walking, then speaking and eating. I had a stairlift put in to help her get upstairs. She used it 5 times!

The plan was (her plan) that she wouldn’t die at home. She would go into the hospice for her final days, and we thought that would have been a relatively simple process, except she became very ill and unresponsive on a Friday afternoon, and the hospice wouldn’t admit her as they didn’t have a doctor available. So for that weekend, her last weekend, I nursed her 24/7 catching the odd 15 minutes if shuteye. We had the community nursing team who would and did come in, but other than that, and a couple,of her friends who came to see her, I had to sit with her from Friday night until the Monday morning when she was finally admitted into the hospice.

We expected her to pass away on the Monday, but she clung on, sometimes conscious but barely. Again I sat up with her through Monday night and the Tuesday morning. Her brother finally came on the Tuesday morning and my only surviving blood relative, my cousin. She died with me holding her hand, and seemed to wait until it was just us, on Tuesday afternoon. That was 13th August.

Since then, only a very few friends (count on half the fingers of one hand) have been in touch. My cousin has been a rock, but she has her own life. We have no kids! So it’s pretty much now me.

I haven’t lived alone since the early 1980’s having been married before Jude. We were each other’s best friends and did everything together. She even worked with me occasionally (she had retired from her job when she initially had breast cancer).

We haven’t even had the funeral yet! I only found out that she had changed her mind and wanted to be buried a couple of weeks before she died, because she arranged a meeting with the funeral directors as a woodland burial! That is something else that is not only freaking me out, but the expense is eye-watering, just for the plot. I don’t think she realised as I know she would never have wanted me to have that liability. But it was her wish and I have to honour it.

I just cannot understand though how so many ‘friends’, both hers and mine, have vanished into the mist. Some no contact at all, a couple of her friends just contacted me to ask about the funeral. No one really seems to actually care about me. Perhaps that sounds selfish but I’m still here and having to deal with this almost completely alone.

The house that we chose together, that was our dream home, I now hate. It feels empty and dead. The only thing I have of hers that has any meaning is her parrot … he was supposed to be my parrot (long story) but he chose her. They do that. He calls for her every morning. He says words and phrases that she used to say to him. It’s heartbreaking! If it wasn’t for him, I honestly think I would have found a way to join her.

I’m a freelancer so am not strictly speaking employed. I work for several companies on a freelance basis but since Jude became disabled with the disease I haven’t worked. I’ve let down several clients and whilst they are very understanding, at some point they will expect me to return or terminate my contract(s). There seems very limited help for people like me in this situation. My job requires intense concentration and I’m worried if I return too soon, I’m going to screw up badly.

I’m fortunate that the hospice provides a bereavement councillor who is very good, but it’s only an hour a week, and I find it’s not long enough.

I knew this was going to be tough. Some people have said I was ‘fortunate’ that I had a few weeks to prepare … FORTUNATE? My god, Clearly these people have no idea what losing your life partner, soul mate and best friend is like!

I’ve done things far too quickly apparently. Sorting out the finances, even applying for probate (she didn’t have time to fix the finances so I wouldn’t have to go through that) … too soon, should wait until after the funeral. Why, what difference does it make?

If I could avoid going to the funeral I would. People don’t understand that, but I said my goodbyes … I was with her, talking to her, holding her hand in the hours right up until she passed away. I don’t need some glorified ceremony to do that. Yes, others may do. But I don’t. But it’s just more pain I have to endure, just to satisfy convention and other people’s wishes, the people who can’t be bothered to see if I’m even still alive! One friend has been ‘banned’ from seeing me or talking to me by her boyfriend because he thinks I’m now a ‘risk’ to their relationship. Can you believe some people?

I’m told it will eventually get easier, but I can’t see that. I see no end other than ‘an end’ … but even that isn’t an option due to her parrot I now have to care for.

Hello Trapdoor,

I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. It sounds as though things are very tough at the moment and you are feeling overwhelmed.

I’m glad that you’ve been able to share how you are feeling here, and I hope that you find the community a good source of support. Everyone here is coping with the loss of a loved one and will understand some of what you are going through.

We also offer online bereavement counselling to members of this community. This is a free service and sessions are held via video chat so you can attend from home. There’s more information about this service here: https://support.sueryder.org/bereavement-counselling

Take care

Online Community Team

I lost my lovely husband nearly four months ago - and struggling today a bit as we should have been setting of on a cruise. I found the forum a couple of weeks after I lost him and it has helped me so much to try and cope. Some days are still very hard and you never know when the grief is going to hit you. I still feel bereft but when I look back on my earlier posts I can see I am coping better than I did.

Like you I did everything very quickly - saw the solicitor, arranged the funeral, rush, rush, rush - threw myself into everything. But it worked for me and quietened that part of my mind. I too felt I wanted to move - how could I stay in our house without him. But fortunately I lost that feeling and looked again at the house we had put so much love in and wanted to stay and look around and feel safe here. Yes his spot on the sofa is empty - but I can still see him there. His music room remains untouched - but our son loves to come over and sit and play guitar in there - so that will stay as it is for a while.
I too dreaded the funeral - that was not my Gary - and that was how I continued to feel. That was just the body that had let him down so badly - the essence of him, the person, the soul was not there. He is and always will be in my heart - in this house, in the car - by my side as he always had been - I talk to him and long for the sound of his voice and the touch of his hand. I cry a lot still - especially in the car. I have at last gone back to work - not full time yet and could not have contemplated work at all for weeks and weeks - but apart from the quiet time standing by the photocopier I find my mind has to focus on the work and it now helps. It is so early days for you and you have already been so much losing your lovely wife how you did.

There is nothing any of us can say that will make it better for you I am afraid. I found and still find keeping as busy as possible helps me to get through the days and that is what it is all about really until I can accept it - just getting through the day. I have painted walls, put together new cabinets, cleared out wardrobes, and gardened - lots of gardening, I just wear myself out. And of course lists and more lists.

There are a lot of platitudes from a lot of people about keeping in touch and let us know if you need help. The true friends you can count on one hand - but even they do not always realise what to do or say. Unless you have walked in our shoes people have no idea.

Please reach out to the people on here they truly understand. You will find some people that you can resonate with and will draw comfort. If we can help - let us know.
Take care
Trisha xx


Hi Trapdoor

I’ve just laid my soul mate to rest last Friday. I wont lie to you it was hard to do, so many tears from me.

Your wifes cancer debacle was not too disimaler to ours … was all good …not good…was all good …then she passed away. My faith in modern medicine is not the best at the moment.

My emotions are all over the place …I want pictures from my Carolyn all around me but on the other hand they are painfull at the same time. Our lovely house is now an empty box .

One very small consolation is that we on here are all in the same black void.

Take care my friend.



It is only 3 months since my lovely Ed passed away. His cancer journey was similar to your wife’s. Good news then not so good news. He was told on his birthday chemo not worked and had weeks left. He died in my arms 1 week later. After the funeral I dealt with his clothes and other items but have kept quite a lot. My friends said to keep whatever I wanted and plenty time to deal with it in the future. Everyone deals with things in their own way so do whatever you feel is right for you. Friends don’t understand a lot of the time and some of mine stay away but will say just call us if you need us ! I get more help and comfort talking to people on this forum . We are all on the same journey here.

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Thank you everyone for your replies. I can’t really respond at the moment as I’m too upset … it’s a beautiful day and we’d be in the garden, she directing operations. Now I HAVE to be in the garden doing stuff I don’t really understand, just to keep it as she would have liked!

Neighbour came over to talk to me … that was bloody difficult. He at least said all the right things, or rather didn’t say the wrong things!

So glad I’ve found this place…



This site allows you to talk and say what you will with no judgement. I come here often to read or comment. It is an open place where others understand how horrible this all is. It makes me realize how many others are going through this, and how similar our stories of grief are. It makes me realize we have to talk about these deep personal feelings and so often have no one to do this with. We’re all on this site for the same reason - to find some type of solace from the pain., and to try to make sense of our intense emotional upheaval. It feels like a very long uphill battle. It’s been 9 weeks today, and I did have 2 days where I did not cry. As good as that felt I was walking a fine edge…which I was. I’m back to the tears and overwhelming sadness - but I am convinced that there will be brighter moments. And I just have to try to seize and “enjoy” them as I can. I am trying to encompass this total finality and how I, and I alone, will learn to deal with it…

I went thru all my pictures the first few days. I started with my mom’s old photos and then the next I started ours. It took a long time. I pulled out the pictures I liked the best and left them in a pile to look at whenever I needed too. Some days I could not bear to look at them - now when I look at his smiling.loving face it is like a little reminder “remember when it was good”. These objects - pictures,clothes etc - aren’t enough, but they are all that I have left that I can touch. My house is empty - the absolute silence stops me in my tracks sometimes, but not as often as in the beginning. I’m over the shock & horror (although it does rear its ugly head sometimes) and am just trying to cope with the sadness. I have to try very hard to be motivated or active, but I force myself to go do something/anything - and sometimes it works. There is a very long unknown road ahead for many of us, and this site makes that feel a little less lonely.

Hi Mark, it does look like we shared such similar experience (trauma). I don’t know about how you find friends, but so many of mine have just disappeared into the void, and I think the comments like “I just can’t imagine how you feel, or what you are going through” is the reason. Unless you have actually lived it, there is nothing on this earth to compare. They don’t know how to cope with the survivor.

I knew my Jude had a terminal illness but we had been given hope that it would be at least 2 years if not more. I thought we had some time, and the suddenness of it all has made it for me (and I think for you too) all the more unbearable. I certainly had things I wanted to do together, there are things I probably wanted to say.

I utterly dread mornings. Starting a new day, a day without Jude. Getting daily closer to her funeral, something I really don’t want to be a part of. If I could avoid going I would. It’s not disrespect, she knew how I felt and I know I must go, but part of me also knows that it will make things even more difficult with those few friends I have left. They will see a side of me that they have never seen (an complete emotional wreck) and I know it will affect the friendships. They have always seen the steady, decisive and confident me. That’s gone now, completely. I think it will shock them.

It scares me to think I might now be on my own for the next 30+ years, with just memories and a few pictures - not enough pictures and definitely not enough video - to remember the life we had that was stolen from us.

I also find I feel very resentful to others. Had a message only this morning from a friend who said he is just about to go off on holiday with his partner. I couldn’t bring myself to say “have a great time” because all that consumed me was the thought that he was the lucky one, it wasn’t fair he was going on holiday and that I couldn’t imagine ever going on holiday again. I still feel that. That’s not me … I’m not like that and something in me has changed now. I feel I’m ‘broken’. Everything is daunting, even going out to do some shopping. It feels wrong and I actually feel scared doing it! How can that be?

A work colleague from one of my client contracts called in to see me yesterday to see how I was. I was surprised and very grateful … but inevitably the question was asked, “when do you think you’ll start working again?” … I couldn’t answer, and I can’t even contemplate how I’m going to get back to work. I need to, I’m a freelancer so have no income if I’m not working. But I just can’t envisage starting back into the ‘normal’ routine … I’d ring Jude when I got to whichever work location, and ring her when I was setting off home. That’s gone. My job means that I have to concentrate hard for 5 or 6 hours without a break … I can’t afford a lapse in concentration or a ‘meltdown’ as I can’t just rush off to the loo for 10 minutes to calm down. Perhaps after a few weeks it’ll look a bit clearer, but what if it doesn’t? I don’t want forced retirement and even more time to sit around and feel depressed. Things are just so unclear, and I hate that.

No wonder it sometimes it feels like the easy solution is to just not wake up!

Mark (also!)

I’m so sorry for your loss Trap door. I totally sympathise. I lost my beloved husband of 32 years almost 8 weeks ago and the pain has been unbearable. Similar to your partner’s experience he had cancer of the ureter. A year ago he noticed blood in his urine, did the right thing and went to the doctors where he was referrred to a urologist. To cut a long story short, he went into hospital to have a biopsy which they couldn’t perform because of a blockage. He had a ct scan which showed a tumour the size of 2.5cm which increased to 5cm and the consultant recommended that he had an operation to remove his right kidney and the ureter. All was supposed to be relatively straightforward. When he had the operation 6 weeks later, it revealed the cancer had spread and they took away half his bladder, part of his bowel as well as the kidney and ureter. It had also gone into his pelvic bone and lymph nodes. He had a week in hospital then came home where he progressively deteriorated until he was given the final prognosis that his cancer was terminal. I cared for him for nine weeks, it was terrible. I changed his stoma bag and emptied his catheter as well as trying to get him to eat and drink which he stopped doing and lost so much weight. He had been diagnosed with mild Alzhemimers the year before and the cancer made this worse. At the end of his life he was rambling and although he knew us most of the time there were times when he went back into the past and even called me his former wife’s name which hurt me deeply even though I knew it wasn’t really him talking. He went into a hospice for the last five days as it became increasingly difficult for me to care for him 24/7. I was with him when he died which was peaceful. Although I knew his cancer was terminal, nothing prepares you for the loss. I have cried every day and get overwhelming feelings of panic to think I will never see him again. I was the driving force in our marriage but he was my rock. One of the awful things I am going through is that because he has gone I keep feeling he has left me. My heart literally aches for him. I never took him for granted but I didn’t realise how much he did for me. I have five children (four by my previous marriage, who loved him dearly) and although they have been very supportive that is starting to wane now. I hate weekends and bank holidays when I feel so totally alone. Everyone is getting on with their own lives which is only natural but I long for what I had and just don’t know how to go on. I cannot think that life will ever have any joy in it again. We had our ups and downs like any other couple but we were happy together and loved each other totally. I have never been on my own so my life has been turned upside down.


Iam sorry what a word I wish there was a better one to some up how we all feel I lost my partner Alan on the 13th of July am still finding it difficult to deal with everything I can only say I do one thing a day if I can and yes everyone has finished but that’s OK thay can’t tell you to move on if thay don’t see you and right now that sort of advice I can do with out I find warking help some time you can speak to people you don’t no and just for a moment you’re you again out of the house that’s so empty so yes we are all going the same way trying to find Ower way through this hell and this site helps because you no now your not alone other people can be there even if your friend and family aren’t someone on here with all ways Lison.

Hi Heather Diane
I’ve done the funeral now which was hard/painful to say the least.
The next step is now coming home last night on my own … I wont lie I was a mess without Carolyn by my side anymore, the house is her all over and now feels dead no life in it …this morning just the same … I can’t stand the thought of my future on my own and not able to see or talk to my dear wife.
I just wish I wouldn’t wake up on mornings now.


Hi Mark

Your feelings you’ve described I would echo them exactly.
I went through the funeral process as your expected to do last week , only we know the pain and grief that goes with it …I’ve no idea how I got through it.
As i thought once the funeral is over outsiders ( as i now call them) fall away friends and family think that’s it it’s all done hell be ok now …far far from the truth, it’s only the next step in being alone from the only person on earth you adored.
I’m back home now on my own… morning,afternoons,evenings and nights are the same black void our house my wife loved is now quiet and lifeless …i hate it.
I feel if I try to do anything now without carolyn it’s as if I’m now forgetting her by doing things on my own …but it’s far from the truth… I have total love for her always.

So mark I know it’s by no means any kind of consolation your thinking what you are thinking but you also know your not alone in these feelings by any means…and I question why us every day.



I’m so sorry if this seems heartless, but I can only speak from my own experience. Try not to judge how you feel now for how you will feel in the future. I felt exactly as you all felt in beginning, but it will be a year soon since I lost my wife.
Now, and it does seem a hell of a time, but chinks of light show very often. I have learned to live with some pain. It may never go away but it does improve.
Coming on this site was the best thing I could have done because I have made friends here who know only too well.
It’s almost pointless talking to ‘outsiders’ as there is little understanding. I was one of them before it happened to me. It’s not their fault. You don’t go to hell and back just for the ride.
I’m on my own after many many years and it is pretty awful still, but I have adjusted to a routine of my own.
I don’t force myself to do things just to prove I can do them. Like going to places we went to together. I allow time to pass because I know I will eventually be able to go. I do go to many places now, but some I still avoid.
At the moment there’s not a lot I can say that will give you much comfort. But I suggest you stay with us here. A more courageous and kind lot it would be difficult to find.
My very best wishes and try, just try to take it one day at a time.

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We all need someone to talk to. I am very alone with no family and few friends (and they are all distant). I met a neighbour yesterday for the first time, and I have to say I enjoyed the interaction. He never once commented on my loss other than saying “I saw the ambulance that morning”. We had a wonderful conversation about all kinds of things, and for a brief moment I was me…I realize that I have to learn to do this on my own, and I find this site gives me some hope that I will succeed and find something positive. Be gentle with yourself, look after yourself and try to laugh - we are healing ourselves as best we can…

I am so glad you had somebody to talk to. I am lucky with many friends and wonderful children but nothing replaces my husband and the empty void is dreadful. I take one day at a time but the pain of losing him, (he died 8 weeks ago) is overwhelming and I find it hard to think I will survive his loss.

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Had an absolutely awful day today. No contact from anyone and trying to locate some paperwork wanted by one of Jude’s financial institutions came across all the letters we had sent each other back in the 80’s when we were going out. I haven’t stopped crying since.

I shouldn’t have read them, but all the hopes and dreams we had… I just can’t accept how things have turned out. Before she died, reading those letters would have brought back wonderful memories. Now they just bring pain and grief. Why?

I don’t want to be here any more. Don’t want this pain. I can’t understand how I can function again when I feel like this. The thought of going back to work and having to deal with people and concentrate just fills me with dread.

People have said that things will improve once the funeral is out of the way. I can’t see how that will make one jot of difference.

Was on the verge earlier of phoning Samaritans but talked myself out of it. I just don’t know what they will say to me that will help.

Hi, I have felt the same as you do, then i feel better, then i go back down again, it’s all part of grief, we have lost someone very important, would it not be strange if we did not feel like this? I gave ring the Samaritans when feeling very low and just being able to voice how you feel being completely honest did help, I wouldn’t hesitate to ring again which I’m sure when I go back down again I will be doing, you are letting the grief out so try and accept how you are feeling is normal & others are feeling the same and we all just try and plod along through the bad days, then the good days, then the alright days, grief isn’t called a rollercoaster for nothing.

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Trapdoor I’m sorry you have had a bad day there are days like that when I don’t see or speak to enyone and just on own with the memory of the loss I haven’t worked out how to do it all ether. I just no I have to if I don’t I just be letting Alan down and all we went through I no he expects me to carry on I am not shore how so I take all the help. From site like this just sometimes to no there are others out there helps we live we loved and we lost but I won’t change that for a minute apart from the loss that is I no if this is the price I have to pay for the love I had then so be it. I will have to go through this. The alternative is not having non him and that I can’t even consider as an option Iam writing this with a glass of wine in my hand remember the man that I new better than anyone else wishing he was still next to me nowing all the little things on one else new only me and he new me to so if this is the price I have to pay for love I will. I would not of wanted to miss a minute of a day we spent together to lesson this pain so some how we all have to go on no matter how hard it is

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Trapdoor, I can hear your pain
My Jack died 4 months ago - the shock had passed but I miss him all the time and I cry a lot - people from outside say I am coping well but do they knowand what choice do we have
Who is to say that you felt with your wife’s things too quickly? Each and everyone of us do at our own time

Maybe going back freelancing will help you . Two weeks after JCk’s funeral I went back to work - I did it for 2 reasons : 1 - I could hear JCk’s voice saying to me "c’mon woman go back to work ! It will be good for you’ 2 - I thought having to work would give ve structure to my days and I will see people.

Regarding people disappearing from your life - I had a few of those - as if I am contagious- so they better avoid me. I have a friend with whom we used to socialised and after Jack’s death they completely cut me out of their life vest and I think that his wife also felt I wasn’t good to be around them!! Their problem - not mine

I hope you will feel people’s kindness but this is a lonely and difficult and sad life - we can hope that glimmers of light appear here and there

Take care
Sadie xx

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