Life as a Widower

A young widowed father opening up about living with loss

six months

Next Friday will be the six month anniversary of my wife’s untimely death. It simultaneously means both everything and nothing to me.

Everything because I can’t believe how much our families and friends have been through in that time. Nothing because I suspect that what we’re going through hasn’t even started yet.

Everything because it’s been the longest six months of my life and I’ve never felt so many emotions so intensely. Nothing because, looking back, I can’t believe six months have passed so quickly and so much of it feels like a blur.

Everything because my whole outlook on life has changed. Nothing because I feel so powerless now that I understand that I have no real control over the future.

Everything because it’s 25 time longer than the previous longest period of time (seven days) that I hadn’t seen my wife in eight years. Nothing because I’ve started to understand that time is a measure that holds little value in grief.

And so as we approach the six month anniversary I can imagine that there are people out there who’ll assume that long enough for a person to have begun to heal. In my experience it’s not. Time is simply a medicine dished out by untrained practitioners. But for me it’s a placebo and I’m familiar enough with the taste of real thing to know I’m being taken for a ride. The truth is I feel every ounce of sadness and loss I felt six months ago.

Yet I’d be lying if I said that my feelings nearly six months on were exactly the same. I know this because I’ve been keeping a diary in the form of this blog and when I look back I can compare. I wrote a piece called Imaging It back in January, which aimed to explain how it immediately felt to loose my wife so suddenly. I covered elements of confusion, guilt and physical pain that I no longer feel with the same intensity. If I had the same physical symptoms, for example, I’m sure I would be extremely ill by now. And if you witnessed me as the shell of a man I was back in November I’m sure you could assume that time was indeed healing. Yet it’s not. I guess I’m just on a journey towards slowly learning to survive with an open wound. And I guess there’s little other choice but to survive when there’s a young child there who needs you more than ever before.

As well as the six month anniversary, next week will also mark several milestones for this blog. It will be four months since I published my first post. By next week there will have been 100 posts and the blog will have received half a million views. And it was with all of this in mind that it occurred to me to revisit Imaging It, because it gave a real insight into the grief I felt immediately after my wife was killed. And although I don’t believe time heals, I’m starting to face the reality that it changes.

So I’m going to tell you what it feels like for me some six months on. The most important part of that sentence is not the measure of time but the part that says ‘for me’. I understand how natural it is for human beings to compare themselves to others. I know how it feels to get cross at people for pushing their beliefs on me. I appreciate that one person’s six months might be another’s six years. And above all, I know myself and I know that all I’m doing with the blog, all I’ve ever done with it, is document how I feel at any given moment in time. Perhaps after seven months I’ll change again. Maybe I’ll regress. Who knows if my feelings will be closer to month one than month six? I’m only certain of one thing. I’ll be the only one feeling my exact feelings. You’ll be the only one feeling yours. We’ll share common ground but we all grieve in our own way in our own time.

I mention this only because I’ve felt some upset and discomfort recently for being criticised for my grief.

I’m not angry enough.

I’m too positive.

I’m just out for myself.

Perhaps inevitably, given my current fragile state, I could hear a thousand positive comments and concentrate only on a handful of negatives. But that’s my grief. When my wife first died I was more preoccupied about who hadn’t got in touch than who had. These days I can’t even remember who did and who didn’t.

But the struggle I’m having with my grief is also telling me to grow a thicker skin. It’s telling me that all that matters now is the approval and the well-being of the people I love or respect. It’s telling me that I set out to help people and if there are still people who can find solace or empathy in what I write, then it’s worth carrying on. It’s telling me to be the gauge of what’s right and what’s wrong. It’s telling me to face the reality that you can’t please all of the people all the time. And it’s telling me not to waste my increasingly precious energy trying.

So this is what grief feels like for me six months on.

It feels like sadness.

Sadness because the person I shared my life with is no longer here and never will be again.

Sadness because any precious moment of happiness I feel, however brief, is followed by a crippling sense of foreboding and loss.

Sadness because it tears me to pieces to think of my son not being raised by the mother who adored him so much and who was planning to make his life so special.

Sadness because I fixate not just on my own loss but that of my wife’s family and friends and I feels theirs too.

It feels empty.

Empty because whatever I do, however much I occupy myself, however much I try to honour the memory of my wife, I feel nothing. No pride. No sense of achievement. No progress. Just nothing.

Empty because a part of me died with my wife. She was part of me. We were part of each other. The physical part has gone and with it it has taken so many of the positives emotions that I always held so dear.

It feels endless.

Endless because I know I’ll never be healed.

Endless because I’ll never see her again.

Endless because I’ll never see the old me again.

Endless because there’s no conclusion, just an unknown expanse of time ahead of me to always miss her.

Endless because a huge part of me doesn’t want the pain to stop because it’d feel like I were doing my wife a disservice in death.

Endless because I have the feelings of both myself and my son to worry about for as long as I’m lucky enough to be alive.

Endless because it never leaves my mind for a moment and I find it hard to concentrate on anything else.

Endless because I rarely sleep and so there are now more hours in the day yet I don’t have the energy to fill them with the things I used to love or the things that made me a healthier person.

It feels like disbelief.

Disbelief because when anyone talks about my wife’s grave I shut down.

Disbelief because I don’t think I’ll ever truly be able to get my head round what’s happened.

Disbelief because, well fuck it, I just can’t fucking believe it’s fucking happened.

It feels lonely.

Lonely because my days never come to a natural close with a ‘goodnight’, a kiss or a cuddle from the person who told me it was time to go to bed.

Lonely because however much company I’m in, I still feel alone.

Lonely because intimacy has gone.

Lonely because I’ve lost my wife, my best friend, my co-parent and my partner in fun and mischief all in one go.

It feels disappointing.

Disappointing because people I bump into often assume that they don’t need to mention what happened because it happened six months ago.

Disappointing because some people avoid talking about my wife as if she never existed.

It feels shared.

Shared because I understand now that I feel some comfort when I comfort others.

Shared because I believe that if we pass kindness on it will come back to us.

Shared because so many people out there are looking out for me and my son.

Shared because I’ve let the people who I initially pushed away back in.

Shared because I stopped trying to be a hero and started to accept and truly appreciate help.

It feels hopeful.

Hopeful because I’ve let moments of happiness back into my life and I’ve sad to hell with the consequences and the hangover that they might create.

Hopeful because of my son’s sunny disposition and his beautiful outlook on life.

Hopeful because he tells me, “It’s not raining, Daddy, it’s happy” when all I see are dark clouds ahead.

Hopeful because he can answer for himself at two-and-half when people ask where his mummy’s gone.

Hopeful because when the other kids at nursery discuss the necklaces that they are making for their mummies, my son doesn’t get upset. He just says he’s making his for his daddy.

So today my grief is not the Gollum I spoke about in the original version of this post. But it still feels ugly, isolated, wretched and schizophrenic enough to be Sméagol.

N.B. Please do feel free to share how it feels or felt for you at six months too. In fact, please do share how it feels or felt for you at any point in your grief. I realise that for many people this blog is not just about my story but also about all the stories shared in the comments. And for me that’s just amazing because it feels like we’re all in it together.

Six months on my grief is still ugly, isolated, wretched and schizophrenic enough to be Sméagol

Six months on my grief is still ugly, isolated, wretched and schizophrenic enough to be Sméagol

154 comments on “six months

  1. Mary
    November 11, 2018

    You nailed the feelings. My boyfriend of 10 1/2 years that I lived with was hit by a semi six months ago. I have no one but me to take care of but I get everything else.

  2. Fanya
    January 13, 2019

    It’s exactly what I feel . My husband passed away 7 months ago . It’s very tough . I feel very lonely though I occupied myself a lot and have many friends .

  3. Debi Jenderseck
    March 3, 2019

    Tuesday will be six months for me since I lost my husband. I’ve had so many emotions in the last six months they really don’t even know how to put it into words I can be upbeat one minute and sobbing the next. I don’t know how to push my self to go to the day it’s as if I lost my identity and were in supposed to be doing. I realize first three months or close to that, I was actually in shock and just handle things and responded pretty normal. And then by the time the third month and into the fourth month came I was a total basket case. I feel like I’m a third-party when I’m around people that have spouses and I feel like I’m just being accepted and not really I wanted. The house that seemed so small to me when we were together now seems so big and so cold and so lonely. Life goes on and you continue to do what just has to be done but the joy is taken away and no longer is they are in so many things that you just do anyway. I don’t want to ever forget him and I don’t want to ever disrespect him I hate getting over him too quickly – but yet a part of me wants to be over there so bad and it was hurting and I just wish I could push forward but nothing seems to go in the timeframe that it used to.
    Are used to hear people say that they felt like they lost a part of their heart and they lost their spouse but now that I have experienced this I can honestly tell you a piece of my heart could break off and go with him and that’s why it’s so hard to breathe sometimes respond and react and do what I should do because part of me is missing and when you miss a limb, Things are just never the same.

  4. Judy Linda Moxam
    April 7, 2019

    reading your comments made me realise all the thoughts and feelings I have had since 5th September 2018 when my husband passed so suddenly are normal. Thank you

  5. Martha Castro
    July 13, 2019

    You have described my emotions so perfectly. My life changed forever on 1.13.19, and it will never be the same. There is some comfort knowing others totally understand just how raw and empty I still feel.

  6. Mike
    August 1, 2019

    My wife died just over six months ago. So how am I doing! Well, I’m heart-broken, horny, grieving, lonely and vulnerable. I don’t want to live like this, but I don’t want to die (from a song). I journal and I put one foot in front of the other to push through the grief that I’m slowly learning to live with.

    August 3, 2019

    You have my sympathy. It’s a devastating effect that doesn’t go away yet gets easier never forgotten. I honor my spouse by trying to make good of what we had .ppl don’t having death change you. But still there are those reasons you must carry on.carry out .at times I feel like frfr I gotta live like this forever ever man then again he’s not suffering.this world is not our home it’s temporal. Take a pic now look at 6yr later. We don’t come to stay. Honor Him her MaPa get up Bledsoe THEE get going any direction is A direction. The Lord’s know all about it.
    Today is Mr Wilson’s 53rd sending kisses too heaven#muah

  8. Alisa Reese Petrillo
    November 3, 2019

    I get it. After 32 years together one more day or year could never be enough.

    You are alone in a new world with a gaping exposed wound that Everyone sees but no one wants to address its right there in front of them.

    I have been lucky to have several friends who have consistently been in touch just to be in touch nothing more. It is great comfort to me.

    I try to put 1 foot in front of the other and ask every day for guidance. I meditate and journal it seems to help.

    I’m grateful for your post.

    Wishing you only good things.

  9. Gj
    January 21, 2020

    My wife passed away in July of 2019, she was only 39.
    She passed away in front of me, that image lives with every second of my life, I can’t escape it. Since that time to the present I put up a façade for everyone that everything is ok, but I am not fooling myself. I have been making mistakes and choices that would make my wife really disappointed in me. I just want to be myself again and not hurt every day. Finally mustered up the strength to go see a therapist, which is something I never believed in. I guess I will give it try and see what happens.
    Thanks for your post.
    God Bless.

    • Carol
      January 23, 2020

      Your loss is so recent. Be gentle and patient with yourself because it takes time to come through this. Gradually the waves of grief crash over with less intensity, less frequently but after nearly four years I still feel them sometimes. There is some difficult work to do in the process of letting go and it is probably different for each person. I can function fully now and God has given me an incredibly exciting life which I would never have embarked upon had my husband still been alive. I still love him and still miss him but I guess I’ve reached a place where I accept what has happened with momentary painful lapses which don’t stop me from doing whatever I’m doing. I am back to normal even though there is still hurt to deal with sometimes. Please know that though this is the most difficult thing to ever have to face in life, there are many of us out here and there is HOPE.
      God bless you

    • RR
      September 27, 2020

      I can relate to your statement that you are making mistakes that would disappoint my husband. I never would have made those errors had he been alive.
      I’m disappointed in myself.
      Also experiencing many stressful events.

  10. Debra Baker
    March 7, 2020

    I lost my husband November 15th 2019, one day before his birthday. I never knew grief could be so painful. The physical pain as well as the emotional. Some days I don’t know that I can bear it. But somehow I make it through. Mornings are the worst for me. I often dream about him (us) and then I wake up. What I would give to just fall back into the dream. So I relive the loss every morning. We were married over 33 years. My normal life just vanished in a moment and now there is no normal. I will survive, I know. Somedays I’m not sure that is what I want, but I carry on. Thank goodness for my family and friends they have been my rock, Everyday someone is there for me even if it’s just on the phone. I have gone to counseling and joined a bereavement group. Both are enormously helpful. I have faith I will be with my husband again and so I have to be strong and live my life to the fullest. I am really trying. God bless all of you going through this horrible time.

  11. Beth Davies
    March 7, 2020

    I lost my husband about 16 months ago. I miss him so much and we were also together over 30 years. You are so right in saying that life is no longer normal. Everyday i dream of him too and my heart breaks because I miss him so much. He was 59 when I lost him and I feel so sad sometimes because he was my best friend. I am thinking of you today and will keep you in my thoughts

  12. Keith Hawe
    March 27, 2020

    Thank you for putting into words exactly how I am feeling. I feel like I am wearing a cloak of sadness that I cannot throw off. It hangs on me all day, everyday. I do look forward to the day I can laugh and be happy again, for my sake, and my family and friends. Coming up 6 months and I look forward to feeling normal again soon. Thank you again for your writing.

    • BFrame
      March 27, 2020

      My husband passed away suddenly 4 years ago at age 58. I think when you lose somebody unexpectedly there can be a long period of shock. There were many times when I didn’t want to go on. I wished I was older so I was closer to dying. I stumbled around for a couple of years before my head started to clear. I tried many things to try to feel better. I read many books on grief, saw a counsellor, exercised, travelled to keep moving (somehow getting out of my new normal felt better while away but returning home would plunge me into despair) volunteered, got a part time job, etc. No one thing helped but they all helped a bit. As did time. I can tell you that it will feel better eventually. Really. But we all know that we will never get “over” it. But I am learning to absorb what has happened, to live with it and laugh again. I still have dark times but I thank god for my sense of humour. Even if the humour is dark!

      It’s excruciating, I know. Please hang in there. If taking it day by day is too hard then take it hour by hour.

    • RR
      September 27, 2020

      Ditto…I can’t get rid of the sadness each day. I like your description as a “cloak”
      6 months as well.

  13. PollyJoe
    May 17, 2020

    I lost my partner of over 30 years on December 14, 2019. He had lung cancer and was 59 years old when he died. He had a lung hemorrhage at home alone and when I got home the police were there told me that he had passed away. He had to call 911 from his phone for help because he knew he was in trouble. I’m so sad that he died alone. I knew he probably didn’t have much time left because of the lung cancer but I never expected he would go so suddenly. I talked to him on the phone at 8:37 am and at 11:14 am he was in heaven. He had a lung hemorrhage three weeks prior to that and was in intensive care for three days and then released on Thanksgiving day. He wasn’t able to survive the second hemorrhage. Although he died alone I know that God was with him because I know that he would have called on God for help in his final moments. He had strong faith so that is a great comfort for me. The past few days the tears have started to flow. I think I’ve been in shock. I really miss him and wish I could talk to him one last time here on earth. I’m starting to go through his stuff and every time I start to box things up my eyes start leaking again. We didn’t have any kids but he has a grown son who is helping me. I just wish I could get through all of his things and feel when that happens I can start to move forward. Today it’s one minute at a time. Thanks for listening.

  14. alishadanger
    June 10, 2020

    My husband died suddenly six months ago this Friday. And all the endless and lonely spots you speak of are exactly where I am at too. Thank you for putting your voice out there because my voice feels stuck and I don’t know who to voice it to. I still can’t wrap my mind around it and how I will never be the same me I was six months ago. I can only hope that I get to find me again and live to watch my kids grow and their kids grow. Again, thank you.

  15. Laur
    June 26, 2020

    Today is exactly six months for me. This is so very similar to how I feel, I could be looking in a mirror. I sit in a cell of solitary confinement and I smile at the people who kindly wave at me from behind the wall they don’t see. Sometimes I sit in a sunbeam and feel a little warmth and then I crawl back into the shadow. The warmth makes me sad because it reminds of the warmth of his touch that never will be again.

  16. BR
    July 1, 2020

    Today is the six month anniversary of of my wife’s passing. We were married 38 years. We were very close. She is still the love of my life, and I easily become weepy when I think about her being gone…especially today. I was told that after six months it would be okay to make a major decision again. I think I miss her more now than 5 months ago because I’m not just feeling numb. My true feelings are telling me that I’m sadly alone now and what I really what is to have her back.
    Every day it’s been longer since I’ve had her in my life. Our life. Because of the pandemic I have had a lot of alone time since our grown kids live rather far away. My wife would have been a great guide for many people right now…I am far from the only one who misses her.

    • B Frame
      July 1, 2020

      VERY very early days. As someone who sold our home a year after my husband’s death (4 years ago) I would strongly suggest you wait two years at least before a major decision. This is so awful and hard. I added more stress on to my already exploded world. Hang in there.

  17. John
    July 8, 2020

    My wife passed away on January 5th, 2020 after 40 years 4 months and 5 days of marriage. It’s been 7 months now and still feel the sadness, grief and pain of losing her. I get up go-to work, come home and remember. I was really hoping to get covid19 just to make the end faster. No luck. I still wear my wedding ring and feel guilty when I think I should take it off. I feel guilty when talking to another women. I just cannot say goodbye to her and really not sure I ever want to. I have just sadness, emptiness and loneliness.

    • Beth
      July 9, 2020

      I know just how you feel, i lost my husband 2 years ago and i miss him so much. I feel exactly like you do. I go to work everyday and come home and of course he’s not there. I miss him so darn much. It does get more tolerable but i never stop longing for him to be here. We are supposed to feel this way because we loved them so so much. I’m keeping you in my prayers.

    • Margaret
      August 30, 2020

      I lost my husband of 40 years and 9 months married in April he died just after his 61 st birthday. Diagnosed with cancer and died 15 days later. Very similar to your story john. You have said everything I feel. Such sadness and loneliness. I still feel so much disbelief that he has actually gone. Because of the pandemic we never ever had a funeral he went to the crematorium and we picked his ashes up 2 Weeks later. Feel like an actress in front of people that I am coping well, then when I get home break down in tears. Sending healing to you if that helps at all

  18. Faith Gallagher
    July 14, 2020

    Thank you for this blog and thank you to all of you who have commented. I stumbled across this while looking for some kind of guidance as to how you feel six or seven months on……I lost my lovely partner of 15 years on December 21st 2019, ( the profound poetry of dying on Winter Solstice would not have been lost on him). He was a gentle, erudite, deeply compassionate man and a true poet- he really was my better half.
    He had an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm; he died during an attempted surgery to save his life…he knew the risk he was taking and that there was no other option. At his funeral, I felt like I was watching myself greeting people,or just sitting there,broken. My heart ached for his daughter, a grown woman but so like a fragile child that day.
    Like others commenting, I now realise I was in shock for the first three months or so. I was staying at his house (my second but real home), clearing it slowly in a daze. Then Lockdown came and I was stranded there and it became all too real.
    Seven months on, I’m back in my house and have moved our cats in with me; the pandemic has made it very difficult to ameliorate the loneliness and pain. It has hit me that part of me died with him and some days, I see the future years yawning ahead of me and I confess I genuinely want to die….but i hold on simply for others,for my family. I can’t put them through the pain I am experiencing.
    I go through the motions, do what must be done; I cry; I rarely dream of him and can’t bear to see photographs (his dear face!); I get ill; I obsess over the cats health and fear more grief- truly grief is a fate worse than death. The depression is deep.
    However, I no longer feel so much guilt ( missed opportunities, mistakes) and I feel overwhelmingly grateful to have had him at all.
    But I won’t pretend; it’s no easier for me seven months on, just painful in different ways. As my darling said after the loss of his son, ” You carry on putting one foot in front of the other because there is no other choice.” I believe he is at peace with his son, in the care of God.
    Thank you for reading this rather long comment (sorry!)
    Thank you so much to all of you for making me feel a little less alone, and for a glimmer of hope. xx

    • Keith Hawe
      July 17, 2020

      Very nice what you wrote Faith. It does indeed echo my feelings after nine months without my dear wife Leigh. We go on each day. Get up, go through the motions but at this stage their is no joy. When I am out with people their is a respite from the sadness but their is always the slow drive back home to the loneliness and sadness that we have to face. I have read alot about grief these past months so I can only hope that I learn some of the things that help. I am lucky to have three grown up daughters who I am in constant touch with and a few good friends, but nothing replaces the love of my life.

      • Faith Gallagher
        July 18, 2020

        Bless you, Keith- our grief is the measure of our love. I can only conclude that however hard it is, it is worth going through the grief to have had them at all; it’s a price worth paying for having had the love of our lives. So we must struggle on!
        I’m glad to hear you have your daughters and friends to help you get through; hold onto them and don’t be afraid to lean on them.
        Let’s hope and pray that we gradually learn how to really live with our loss, not just survive. Judging from some of the comments here, there’s hope that we will.
        Take good care of yourself x

  19. Rodney Rama
    August 24, 2020

    I just came across this post and I can’t tell you how many of the feelings you felt I am going through at the moment. It will be 6 months sine my wife’s passing in 10 days time and the feeling of emptiness is still so palpable…unlike you we never had children and it has been difficult to fill my life with anything fulfilling, although following the COVID crisis I took my elderly parents in to live with me…maybe I was trying to fill a void, but their helplessness during this time compelled me as an only child to do something. I appreciate that you have probably moved on since, but I would like to lnow how you coped…it’s so hard. My name is Rodney and I live in Mauritius. Thanks for listening….

    • Ben Brooks-Dutton
      August 24, 2020

      Hey Rodney. I’m so sorry to hear about your wife. I wouldn’t be able to point to any specific thing that helped me cope, I’d just say keep reading and check out my other blog,, which will help you see there is a future.

  20. Tammie Carlisle
    August 25, 2020

    Phew, just when I thought I was really going off the deep end, I find this! I’m having a day where I don’t feel like I’m going to be able to cope with the loss of my husband anymore. It’s been five months, but I think I need to give myself a little more grace.

  21. Mary levine
    September 14, 2020

    God Bless you, your son and your family. I just re read your post . I hope life is good for all of you. I’m at 6 months. But Im in my 70s.
    Hopefully, I am a kinder , softer person .. more patient in listening ( not just the spoken word, but what is not being said, as well)
    There’s a lot of happiness ahead for you and your son . Hold on to that , my dear.
    Trust! It will happen . You will always cherish. . The memories are comforting . Best ! Mary

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