A story of grief by a man and a boy

past tense

Today marks six months since my wife was killed. This milestone has had me reflecting on the past. More specifically on the past tense.

Something I’ve struggled with since the day she died was how to talk about her in the present. I spent the first few weeks after her death in grammatical denial: ‘she does this’, ‘she likes this’, ‘she goes to the other’. All just linguistic attempts at keeping her in the here and now. It didn’t take me long to realise that I was doing it or to feel conscious that people might feel uncomfortable around my contradictory diction.

Yet six months on, one verb still leaves me confused. One verb hasn’t made the transition from present to past. And I’ve just decided that that one verb never will. Love.

My wife may no longer be alive but my love still is, so it makes no sense to say I loved her. I still do.

The past is a verb tense that expresses actions or states in the past. My state of love still lives in the present. My love for my wife has no past tense.

So today I’ve just got one thing to say.

I love you, Dessie. And so does our little boy.


No past tense. I just love you x

No past tense. We just love you x

13 comments on “past tense

  1. C
    May 10, 2013

    I totally agree Ben, I say this too a lot. You have to switch to the past tense to make sense sometimes but love never goes away. x

  2. anyapilates
    May 10, 2013

    This really resonated with me, although I haven’t experienced quite the searing loss that you have, my best friend died suddenly 9 years ago and it took me a long time not to refer to her in the present tense, for the few months afterwards my boyfriend at the time kept correcting me into the past tense whenever i said “she is…” which I found inexplicably insensitive …I still catch myself occasionally “her laugh is the best…”. But love is something that is a continuum that doesn’t just stop and can never be past tensed by circumstance. Zoe’s still my best friend I just haven’t seen her for ages. Big love to you and your little one x

  3. Lunar Hine
    May 10, 2013

    And I tell my girl that love is the only thing which can’t die, so she still carries the love poured into her by her Dada and always will. After every meal, we blow out the ‘fire for Dada’ (candle) and say, ‘We love you Dada’. It’s become quite routine for her now – another thing before she’s allowed to play, but I feel it’s good for her to keep repeating that, and specifically in the present tense.
    And I still slip and say, Oh, Thomas loves that. Then there’s a crunch moment where everyone tries to pretend I didn’t just do that. It’s not that I forget he’s dead – just that he’s still so present in my thoughts, even 16 months on.

  4. ca
    May 10, 2013


  5. alysonandrew
    May 10, 2013

    beautiful, just beautiful

  6. lottiesc
    May 10, 2013

    And Gary is still as present in our (now extended) family as when he was torn from our side nearly 8 years ago and mine and our boys love for him will NEVER die, even as I am about to re-marry.

  7. Paul R
    May 10, 2013

    It’s been just over a year and I still use “we” and “our” in conversations and sometimes with people who never met Laura. I never really thought about what they think of those terms; that I have a recluse for a wife or maybe I’m royalty in hiding?

  8. Alison
    May 10, 2013

    My husbands headstone reads ‘ love will never die’ it never has and never will xx

  9. Fiona
    May 10, 2013

    So true…The love i feel for my husband will never leave me he passed away 7 months ago on Monday

  10. Sue
    May 10, 2013

    Six months is no time at all. You must be very proud of what you and jackson have achieved so far xx

  11. Roger
    May 26, 2013

    One couple I knew expressed their continuing love for their previously deceased spouses in this way. When asked how long they had been married, they added the length of each of their previous marriages to their current time together!

  12. Sara Huizenga Wagasky
    March 22, 2014


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