Life as a Widower

A young widowed father opening up about living with loss

Our story

Screen Shot 2013-12-21 at 18.53.23My name is Ben. On 10 November 2012 my life changed forever. Just after 8.00p.m. I left my friends’ house a happily married thirty-three-year-old father. By 9.17p.m. I was sitting in an ambulance on their street, a widower in shock. I only remember the time because I noticed that the hands on the clock were in the same position as when our son was born two years and three weeks before.

My son and I managed to narrowly dodge the car that killed the woman I’d loved for the last eight years. The woman I’d married just the year before. It killed a wife; a daughter; a sister; a friend treasured by so many. But, perhaps worst of all, it killed a toddler’s beautiful and devoted mummy.

How do you even begin to pick up the pieces after such a tragic loss? This question plagued me. I found myself wanting to share my experiences and find answers from people just like me, widowed young and caring for grieving children. My search for those people seemed fruitless. It just made me feel even more isolated.

‘I’m thinking about starting a blog about losing Dessie,’ I told a friend. ‘It worries me that I’m finding so little out there to help men left alone raising kids.’

‘Just do it!’ he responded, immediately understanding my intentions.

So on 7 January 2013, two months after the death of my wife, Desreen Brooks, I published my first blog post. Within a week the Guardian asked me to write a feature, for its Family supplement, about my experience in helping my two-year-old son understand what had happened to his mum. I was also interviewed on BBC Breakfast and ITV’s This Morning on the same subject. Within four months the blog generated widespread media coverage, amassed a devoted UK and international audience, received in excess of half a million views and won a blogging award for making people sit up and pay attention to an issue that could, ultimately, touch any parent.

My original intention was to try to encourage other men to open up, to challenge perceptions of male grief and to attempt to force a reappraisal of the stiff upper lip being a badge of honour when it comes to loss. The blog however, attracted people from different walks of life united in their own immediate loss, or their care and concern for grieving loved ones.

All sorts of people started to get in touch: women and not just men; old not just young; people who had lost their husbands or wives within a week of me and my son losing Desreen; parents who had lost children; partners who had not yet started grieving because their terminally ill husbands or wives were still finding the strength to hang on; teachers who had found some suggestions for how to deal with children who had lost or were facing loss; and people wanting to understand how to help their own loved ones suffering the pain of bereavement.

My aim now is to give a real insight into raw and live grief. I’ve documented everything as it happened. I decided I needed to start writing soon after my wife died because of an analogy that one day popped into my head: if women could remember every ache and pain of labour, perhaps none would have more than one child. Human beings’ capacity to forget pain is enormous, and in many ways that is a good and necessary thing. Morbid as it may sound, though, it filled me with dread to imagine that I would ever forget the agony of my loss. I was even more worried that I might not be able to explain it to my son when he was old enough to start asking serious questions.

The blog explores themes of loss and grief from both my son’s and my own point of view. It also frequently features guest posts about bereavement, loss and grief of all kinds from anyone who has an interesting, thought provoking or touching story to tell.

232 comments on “Our story

  1. Gail Hawkins
    January 23, 2013

    Hi Ben
    I read your story at the weekend and was totally moved . You and your son are an inspiration. Every person be it, man woman or child should be able to express grief without feeling embarassed or ashamed. People can be so encouraging and you deserve all the lovely comments you are receiving. I wish you both all the best for the future.

    Kind regards
    Gail
    Caring pensioner.

  2. Tom
    January 24, 2013

    Hi Ben,

    I thought I’d send a message as I’m struggling with a similar situation and until now felt very alone. I’m 32 and my wife passed away suddenly on the 9 October 2012 after giving birth to our second son. I am currently trying to juggle looking after a 3 1/2 year old and 3 month old and although my parents have stepped in to help I feel guilty that I’m unable to do everything required of me. I’ve pushed all my emotion about the situation to one side and am focusing on doing the best I can to bring up the boys but this task is very daunting when it feels like I’m facing it alone despite my parents help with the newborn. I can’t help thinking can I do this? Am I strong enough to bring up the two boys without my wife and dearest friend. I feel as if no time has passed since this tragedy and I’m continually reliving the 8th October not able to believe or accept that the 9th October actually took place.

    I am very interested to hear how you are getting on as someone who knows what is feels like to lose the most important person in their life it’s a comfort to know that someone else is battling the same pain I am and surviving just as I’m going to have to.

    Take care of yourself and your beautiful son.

    • Sara
      January 24, 2013

      Really feel for u just wanted you to know that

    • Christine
      February 3, 2013

      My sincere condolence to you Tom. I pray you find the inner strength to carry on and do the best you can each day.

      Christine

    • Jo
      June 8, 2013

      Hi Tom,
      I am in a similar situation to you, my husband died when I was 4mths pregnant with my second son, I have also had to put my grief aside to take care of my 2,5 year old and my 5 mth old. I have an amazing group of friends helping me as my parents died some time ago. I feel torn between my toddler and new born not being able to give them as much attention… I’m doing as much as I can. If your boys are still smiling and happy you know you are doing a good job, they just need to know you are there. I miss my husband and best friend terribly but find some solace in your story and many other stories of survival. You do need to greive
      It will come.
      Sending you courage and strength
      Jo

  3. daniel
    January 24, 2013

    hi ben,
    i think that you have done a really amazing thing here, opening a blog not only raises awareness to others it also allows people like you and i to express our true feelings without being embarassed about them.
    i am 24yrs old with a daughter of 19months now, I too am a single widowed father.I lost my fiance 21st dec 2011. my daughter was only 6months so i doubt she is aware of the whole situation however she knows who her mum is as she often points to pictures and says ”mum,mum” :’) my fiance was only 19yrs old when she died and it was a series of events that couldve been prevented so feel useless and empty even to date. just really need some advice on how to grief and let feelings out without turning it into anger.(please find e-mail address below)

    many thanks

    daniel fountain

    danfountain1988@gmail.co.uk

    • lifeasawidower.com
      January 24, 2013

      Hi Daniel. So sorry to hear about your loss. I can’t give anyone any real advice, only share what I’m going through. Have you spoken to any of the organisations I’ve mentioned on the blog? I’ve sent you an email message though too

    • lifeasawidower.com
      January 25, 2013

      This email isn’t working mate

  4. Isabelle
    January 24, 2013

    Grief is so hard, but you must go through all the emotions to get through it all, which sadly men try so hard to not let their emotions go, even sharing your own stories is a good way of letting some of the grief out, time does help to heal the raw pain. But support is so important and being able to let your emotions out,
    Fantastic website for guys, bless you all x

  5. David
    January 24, 2013

    Really sorry to hear about your loss, I am sure that you will find strength to do what you need to do for your children. I lost my wife in September’s last year my daughter is 13 so a whole heap of similar issues, the bit that struck me from your post is the feeling that you do not want to depend on others. Today I have just been offered a months work in london, I have to take it as I need the funds however. The only way I can take this on is to call in all the offers of help I have had from my great friends and family. I will have to cope my feeling regarding depending on others. Good luck David.

    • lifeasawidower.com
      January 24, 2013

      I’m much more accepting of help now. Read ‘helping widows’ on the blog. One of the links within it opened up my eyes.

  6. Sara
    January 24, 2013

    Hello Mr Brooks-Dutton,

    My creative writing teacher Dot (I cannot spell her last name, my appologies) told us your story and read (I Hope this was ok) Part of your loving eulogy about your wife to us. I think I was the only class member who shut down-Dad died when I was 12 and many others in my life have died since, so I shut death out. But your story got to me.

    I hope you and my teacher don’t mind me contacting you. I was taught at 12 not to cry because it’s shameful, then told off for not crying enough. I hope you and your son find some comfort.

    Sara Mc

  7. Edward
    January 24, 2013

    Hi Ben,
    I was so moved by your story when I read it in last week’s Guardian. There seems to be such a stigma around expressing grief and sorrow, in the UK in particular, which is unhealthy and damaging. Your blog is a wonderful idea and I commend you for writing it – it will undoubtedly prove a source of comfort and reassurance for many.
    Take care,
    Edward (22)

  8. Widower81212
    January 25, 2013

    Hi, I read your story from The Sun newspaper, my wife past away 48days ago and im suffering a lot because she was pregnant to our first baby. We never reliase until the pain comes to us… I just cannot express my feelings. Wishing you and your baby best, thanks for website.

  9. Clive
    January 29, 2013

    Hi Ben,
    I read your story in this morning’s Metro. Firstly let me commiserate with you on your loss.
    I was made a widower nearly 5 years ago, when my wife lost her battle with cancer at the age of 48. Her illness and death were of course very traumatic for me personally and for my sons then aged 13 and 15.
    Losing my wife like this was a double edged sword. On the one hand, it was not a surprise, so we could enjoy the time we had left together and prepare for her passing. On the other hand, I have many sad memories of the pain and suffering during her illness, memories that I’d rather not have.
    Initially I tried to be the strong man, for myself and for my boys, but in spite of having a very supportive family, I couldn’t hack it, so eventually sought bereavement counselling. I was not just grieving for my wife, but also for the memories of our lives together and for the future together I had lost. The counselling helped me immensely and although I still have sad days, I can enjoy life more fully now.
    More recently I started a new relationship (thanks to match.com) and remarried. So on the whole, life for me is good and I have a future again.
    May I wish you every happiness in your future.
    Regards,
    Clive

  10. Sarah
    January 29, 2013

    Wow what courage.

  11. Jonathan Weller
    January 29, 2013

    Ben,

    I heard your extremely distressing story on BBC London 94.9 when you spoke to Vanessa Feltz on her show. You are an incredible young man and I’m so sorry you and your son have had to experience what you both went through. I really would like to wish you both well for the future and with men like yourself talking about issues like you have been through, it can only highlight the issues men also have to go through when bringing up a young child without a partner.

    My deep felt best wishes to you and Jackson and thank you for this website and bringing this to people’s awareness.

    Jonathan

  12. Noora Deverall
    January 29, 2013

    Hi Ben, my name is Noora. I found my husband passed away on 26 November 2012 in his sleep. We have been married for 11 years on 26th Jan. we never have children which I always wanted one. I feel now half of me is gone and I never been the same again since I lost him. I understand exactly how you feel to lose someone dearly especially it’s so tragic like yours. Be strong for your child and he needs you for now. May you be bless with great things ahead of you.

    • Noora Deverall
      January 29, 2013

      And be worse thing is 2 months before he passed away, I’ve been made redundant and a week before he passed away, I was supposed to fly to Singapore to visit my family as I always do in dec when we shut for Xmas. I think I was blessed that I was always around when I wasn’t working and that I haven’t flew home when he passed away. I might and would have done something stupid I think if I wasn’t by side when it happened. I was very very ill and losing so much weight after that as I wasn’t eating and not looking after myself. I’m blessed that I have great people in my life here in UK and in Singapore. But I have to keep telling myself that I have to be strong and keep going coz no one can do that except for myself. It’s so heartbreaking coz sometimes I still do feel like I don’t want to live anymore… :(((

      All the best in time to come….

      If you ever need a chat, email me on nooraeaton@yahoo.co.uk.

      Noora

      • Noora Deverall
        January 29, 2013

        Hi again,
        Sorry it wasn’t 2012 when Nic passed away. It was 2011 on the 26th November.

  13. dancingdauncey@yahoo.co.uk
    January 29, 2013

    Hi Ben – I lost my husband 18 months ago to a brain tumour and have 2 lovely daughters. There are so many challenges to face but I have found The Way Foundation is a very helpful forum to meet (virtually and in reality) other people in the same situation. It’s specifically for people who have been widowed young and I often just check in to make sure I’m not going mad and that other people are going through the same ups and downs. Sending you warm wishes.

  14. D
    January 29, 2013

    Dear Ben
    I’ve read an article about you on the plane the other day, I was going away with my son following the funeral of my husband. I’m 33, my husband died in a car accident on Boxing Day age 33, we have a 16 month old baby boy. We have been together for 10 years and have never been apart, he was so happy to be a father and he loved us both so much. I have so much admiration for your drive for life, for putting your child first and trying to move on. I am still to go back to our home to stay, I have given myself a couple of weeks to regain some strength and then I’ll go home and pick up the pieces, it’s just so hard to decide how to continue, do you keep everything just as it is or do you change things around.. I’m finding courage in your articles and you should be proud of yourself for the way you have dealt with it all, I’ll continue to read your blogs in hope I can learn a little bit from your strength x

  15. Peter Kwong
    January 29, 2013

    Hi Ben

    It was good to see your picture in the Metro this morning. I actually met you a few days before the tragic accident through work and I was very shocked and saddened by the news. I didn’t get the chance to pass on my condolences to you in person so I hope you don’t mind if I do that now. It has been great to read your blog and feel like although I haven’t had the chance to get to know you I do know you and your family a bit better now. I go to a Buddhist centre here in London and we always say prayers for those who have experienced a loss and are going through difficulties. I would be happy to add you and yours to that list.

    I wish you all the best for the future.

    Peter

  16. Funke
    January 29, 2013

    Glad to see you open up, one of the best things anyone in your shoes can do i believe. You surely are an inspiration and sure your family are proud of you. Wishing you strength for each day, people you can count on when you need them and reasons to smile in the process of time.

  17. John McKenna
    January 30, 2013

    Hello Ben,

    A friend sent me the link to your blog. I recognise so much in your blog from my own experience of losing my partner of 10 years. He died on 17th May last year. Although a gay couple, we have sons, both in their early 20s now but still, parent and child will always be, no matter the age.
    I too started blogging – people told me to see a counsellor, to talk to someone. How can you talk to a complete stranger about your partner, the one person that rocked your world? They didn’t know them, they didn’t know you as a couple, so in my mind, how could talking to a complete stranger ever do them or your relationship any justice at all???
    So I blog…when the need takes me. Not religiously, not daily but when I feel it building up inside and I need to release it.
    Once published I hardly ever read it, view the videos, etc…once it’s done and out of my head I feel better….self counselling is how I think of it.

    Should you be interested, it’s here – http://swimmingthroughcement.blogspot.co.uk

    I wish you strength on the bad days and happiness and fond remembering on the good days. You will have both, believe me, but get through it you will.
    Eventually.

    My very best wishes to you and your son.

    John McKenna

  18. Jo
    January 30, 2013

    Hi Ben,

    I read your story in the Metro this week. I’m 34 and lost my partner to a Brain Tumour 8years ago this year. We were together for 4 years and had a wonderful life. It’s such a hard thing to get through – I lost everything, my present and my future; we didn’t have the chance to get married, have children……and all the other wonderful things in life. I’m a very strong person (sounds like you are too) and I never dealt with grief very well – I think your blog is such a special way to ensure you ‘let out’ which I now know is VERY important. I’m pleased to say that in the past couple of years I’ve managed to look more positively at life again and I hope one day to meet someone else to share life with – a feeling I once would’ve never thought possible. People always say that time is a healer but one thing that stuck with me is that you have to give time time.

    Sending lots of good wishes and thoughts your way.

    Jo

  19. bchadda
    January 30, 2013

    I was recommended your blog by a friend, and it’s raw power, strength and emotion is so inspirational. I don’t mean to be just another comment, telling you I feel for you and can’t imagine what you’re going through. Those things are both true, but I think you just deserve a well done. Not because you’re doing this blog, but for yourself, you’re doing something, and that’s a start. I wish you only the best thoughts and hope some day you can find peace.

  20. Jhanne
    January 30, 2013

    Dear Ben,

    I am so saddened to hear your story and so sorry for your loss of a wonderful lady and fantastic mum. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family and I hope that you keep strong and know that people are thinking of you and want the very best for you and your son.

    I hope for a very happy future for you both and hope that you begin to feel some comfort from the pain.

    With love x

  21. laura mccarthy
    January 31, 2013

    I read about your story in this weeks reveal and it brought me to tears.
    The love you expressed for your wife is beautiful and so honest, and I could feel your pain just through reading your story. She was a very lucky women to have found someone who loved her unconditionally and I know your son is very lucky to have someone who loves him the way you do.
    My thoughts are with you both.
    Take care x

  22. Emilie Adams
    January 31, 2013

    Dear Ben,
    When I first read about your wife’s accident in the papers in November, it automatically struck a chord with me. I knew how you felt. I too live in London and was bereaved unexpectedly last year following a freak road accident. It made the paper too. Rob my husband of 17 years and soulmate of 23 years died last March at the age of 42. We had three boys of 13, 10 and 5 at the time.
    Naturally when I saw the article about you writing this blog in the paper again yesterday, I was drawn to it like a magnet. I talk about my situation quite openly but so far have not had the opportunity to share any of it directly with anyone who is going through the same grieving process. This forum made me realise that I am not alone and it made me feel better. I too like to write about my experience and find it strangely cathartic. So far though, my writing has been exclusively for my own benefit but this blog has given me the opportunity to share my story with others in a similar situation.
    My world was turned upside down on 24 March 2012. I could not believe that the man I loved so much was no longer there to look after us and I really did not know how I was going to cope on my own, physically and mentally. I am not a particularly needy person but in the past when Rob was away on skiing breaks or business trips, I always found it difficult and exhausting to cope for a week end alone with the children, let alone for the rest of my life. How could I possibly cope with what life was now throwing at me? But now 10 months on thanks to my amazing boys and a hearty dose of positive attitude, I find that I have somehow coped fairly well. When a young family is struck by such a tragic event, you have to readjust and it inevitably brings you closer together, the family unit becomes more solid. The bickering arguments take a back seat, it makes you more patient and understanding, helps you focus on what is important (and that’s not about whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher!)
    I draw my strength from that. I take one day at a time, deal with what I have to deal with, tick things off my list and thrive on little achievements. You would not believe my inner pride when I managed to check the pressure on the car tyres all by myself or change the ink cartridges on my printer! I also try not to lose my sense of humour and keep smiling. A rainy camping safari holiday with lots of little upset tummies or a good night out with my girlfriends talking nonsense and making outrageous jokes about random topics do wonders for your mental health!
    I still think about Rob day and night and sometimes it is still a struggle. Christmas without him was tough as it must have been for you, as were all our birthdays and anniversaries. But I have been able to have a happy party at the start of January to celebrate what I hope will be a better year for us and this felt like a breath of fresh air. When I’m down, I force myself to stop thinking about what I have lost and concentrate on what I have left: An amazing family and wonderful happy memories going back 23 years. No one can take that away from me.
    If you are still reading Ben (sorry this turned out to be a bit longer than expected), thank you for doing was you are doing. I won’t say you are ‘brave’ as I hate that word when people use it for me, but you are definitely special and from what I am reading I know that in spite of your grief your son and you will be ok.
    With warmest regards to all the recently bereaved readers.
    (Apologies if this has been posted twice…been having IT problems)

    • Jo
      February 5, 2013

      HI, Im sitting hear with tears streaming down my face, I’m just beginning my journey with my two boys, one Im holding close to my chest is only a week old…

      His father, my love, died tragically after celebrating his 40th birthday.
      I have just come out of hospital looking at an empty chair which ironically was the exact same room I was in with my first son, two years previous, this is such a happy event infused with so much sadness and anxiety about the rest of my life on my own with two very young boys. Walking down the hospital corridors each day was like torcher seeing fathers full of so much pride and the look of fear of a new born, i remember that look when he first saw his son – so cuffed, so proud.
      My pain is still so raw but I have found some solace reading Bens blog and responses like Emilies.
      thank you for sharing you stories.
      xxx

      • Emilie Adams
        February 11, 2013

        Dear Jo, your story made me cry too but I’m glad you found some comfort in my message. Coping with the loss of your partner is bad enough but giving birth and looking after a toddler at the same time will be an enormous physical and emotional challenge. Hang on in there, think of your beautiful babies and enjoy every minute of them. They will drive you mad at times and you will be exhausted but they are the most precious gift that your husband/partner has given you and you are very lucky to have them. I know that for a fact. It’s exhausting looking after three boys on your own but my situation would be 100 times worse if I didn’t have them. And one day our boys will be looking after us. In the meantime, look after yourself.
        Emilie

  23. Leo Searle-Hawkins
    February 5, 2013

    Hi Ben

    I’ve just watched your tv interview and felt inspired to get in touch.

    My fiancee died from cancer on August 19th last year and the last five months have been an emotional and mental roller-coaster. For the first time in my life I reached out for professional and voluntary support, only to find what is on offer sadly lacking in many respects.

    I can relate to your experience around most help being orientated towards women as a CRUSE group I went to a couple of weeks back composed around 20+ women and me. They were all very friendly but I felt the lack of male company and sharing.

    For me, the experience of Jenny’s death was like a psychic nuclear bomb going off inside my mind that left me reeling, dazed and confused with large tracts of my previous life vaporised. It has been the most challenging and stressful experience I’ve lived through – and this in a life that has always been far from easy. Yet though all the pain a new perspective on life and relationships is gradually emerging.

    I would value talking with you, comparing notes and generally connecting with another man in a similar situation, although of course our actual experience of grief is always unique to the individual.

    Because of the lack of support I’ve encountered, and the mass of conflicting and often downright misleading information available, I’m about to turn my 22 years of professional training in various fields of psychology over to helping people live through bereavement.

    There’s no dedicated website as yet but lots of research completed. For now there is a page on my existing site that I dedicated to Jenny, which shares processes I developed to help her enjoy considerable freedom from the pain of cancer during the last months of her life. This link will hopefully take you there: http://www.breakoutofyourmind.com/zeropoint/

    Hope to hear from you.

    with kindness,

    Leo

  24. sandrina
    February 8, 2013

    Hi, Ben I don’t know if you will read this (and I am neither a widower nor a widow for that matter). I would simply like to mention a nonfiction French book called ‘ other lives but mine’ ( also called ‘ lives other than mine) by Emmanuel Carrere – available on your usual online distributors, in paperback and hard cover. It may be shock treatment as it is about two ( true) stories of loss, I don’t know. All I can say is that I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed when I read it and that nothing I have ever read has affected me as much as that book. I don’t know the author personally and I have no financial interest in publishing by the way.

  25. Ruth Wilson
    February 10, 2013

    I’ve just read the Valentines messages from you to your wife in Style magazine and I was so moved. How cruel to lose such a wonderful person. How fantastic that you’re offering support to others who find themselves in a similar situation; as well as being brave, it’s incredibly thoughtful and I’m sure it’s providing a real help to many who have also so sadly lost their partners. Your son is absolutely beautiful, good luck to you both. Ruth x

  26. Fiona Wylie
    February 10, 2013

    I have just read your letter to your wife in The Sunday Times Magazine. It made me cry. It is beautifully written.
    I lost my brother. A different kind of grief. But we were best friends for most of my life – and I miss him every day.
    All I can say is that after many years of the phrase ‘this does not compute’ ringing in my ears, I have now come to a dull acceptance. An acceptance of the unacceptable.

    Thank goodness you have your beautiful son.
    Take care of each other.
    Your wife is standing just beside you.

    Fiona

  27. fionamwylie
    February 10, 2013

    I have just read your letter to your wife in The Sunday Times Magazine. It made me cry. It is beautifully written.
    I lost my brother. A different kind of grief. But we were best friends for most of my life – and I miss him every day.
    All I can say is that after many years of the phrase ‘this does not compute’ ringing in my ears, I have now come to a dull acceptance. An acceptance of the unacceptable.

    Thank goodness you have your beautiful son.
    Take care of each other.
    Your wife is standing just beside you.

    Fiona

  28. sharon herriot
    February 13, 2013

    I work at a hospice supporting families through their bereavements. Thank you for sharing your experience of grief and the expectations put on you (by yourself and others) to be a ‘tough’ man who doesn’t cry; it was so moving.
    I’m spreading the word about your blog and hoping it will help other men to express their emotions in an equally honest way.

  29. Mad Woman
    February 14, 2013

    Hi Ben. I have just seen your interview on “This Morning” and it really touched me. Keep going. Much love.

  30. Michelle
    February 14, 2013

    Hello Ben,

    Your interview this morning touched me very much. I was 16 when my mum passed away and growing up without her isn’t easy. Jackson is precious and a blessed boy for having a father that wants more than anything to keep him from feeling any pain. My experience was very different and it warms my heart to know that men such as yourself and Jeff have the heart and mind to do what is best for your children. As the years pass it gets easier to bare…stay strong x

  31. ola
    February 14, 2013

    Hi Ben,

    I also watched your interview on this morning. I was so moved by your experience and so much gratitude for your strength to reach out. I have also lost a loved one, but like you and Jeff said each experience is different.For me we were not married or had any kids, but it had turned my life upside down. I went straight away to one of the other blogs on your page to share my story which I would past below.

    I wish you and your boy the easiest of life life to carry to burden. Like you said the expert is someone who has equally lost a loved one. From your coming up in the show I believe you have helped people like me a step further to live with the grief. The fact that you are not alone nd other people are ther to understand. Rathr than those who just assume that you should just move on and get on with life. I hope you and your son would find measurable happines to that which you had found with your late patner, although it would not be ever the same.

    I ope to continue to follow your blog and hopefully be able to be a volunteer in something to help people who find it hard coping with grief.

    Thanks
    ola

    I completely agree with you that grief is unique! I am a 37 years old Black female who lost a lover, who was a best friend in 2002. I had met him at the Uni when I was about 17 years and he about 19 years. Since then we became closer for the next ten years out of which we had dated for seven years. We both were in the same class in the UNiversity for eight years out of the ten studying a degree which was meant to be five years. However, due to the unrest in my country there was a three years extra to the time of our duration at the University. He was a very loving, generours, charming, honest, hard working and caring human being I had ever known. Despite the fact I was from a broken home, he made me believe in true love!. Unfortunately, just as we about settling down he had a motor accident which resulted in spinal injury. He became paralysed, yet he was the most optimistic person. Unfortunately, I believe he did not get the best help he was supposed to get, because despite the paralysis he always had sensation all over his body. To cut the long story short just as we were coming to terms with his paralysis which by the way never changed him as a person, the worst happened! Some doctor in the country was helping to get him more mobile while we had decided to raise funds for him to travel abroad for rehabilitation. The last week of his life I had just gone to my family, because since the accident almost two years even though we were not married I was almost always with him. For the first time in that period I went to a telephone booth to talk to him, because as of tehn we were just begining to have the awareness of mobile phone which was very uncommon at the time. That first time for almost two years he told me he felt discouraged!. Not planning to see him befor then, I nevertheless took to the road on a four hours journey to see him. However, he was the most flexible he had been since the accident as he was able to hold a pen loosely and wrote my name on a paper, was a ble to hold a fork to feed me!!. I was to spend a day and go back, but he delayed me for an extra day. Actually I had to tear my sef off to get back home, because then I was begining to have disagreement with a family that was sort of a father figure to me about marrying someone of a different religion. So I could not really be open at home about the accident except to my sibling and my mum who at the time was also convinced I needed to marry some one of my religion. Never had it crossed my mind to leave him atthis time and was schocked when a mutual female friend whom he could have done any thing for comented that I should leave him for other suitors at the time!!! Any way the dya I left him I was on my way back on the road, I felt there was something wrong. But was not to know until te next day when I was called into the room of an uncle when I got home wher I lived who did not know I was still intouch with my late boy friend. He had been informed the night before that my late boy friend had passed away about the same time I felt something wrong! That was the begining of my heart break, I just turned twenty seven. Any way I later almost two years afterwards got to leave my country for a further education abroad with the suppport of my father who since I was about 12 was only in and out of my life.

    I have not been able to get over the loss. A lot of people I have met have either not believed why I should be holding on or gotten over it!

    This brings me back to your comment that grief is unique! I mean, I have made a long essay to pack ten years into the few lines is impossible. There are other personal things you can not even share or comprhend.

    The sad thing is that I feel I have not been able to grief properly for him, because people think since we were not married or with kids then the bond was less! It is sad and breaks my heart that such a kind person had a short life and we had no kid to share the memory as sad as it may seem to say it would be difficult to tell if a child was involved. It may be me being selfish, but I wish we were able to have a memory of him alife, since there was nothing of him left! That was also one of the things I was told he discussed before he passed away. I have not been able to move on since then and having dishonest relationship any time I tried to move on has not helped. I hope one day I would be able to get past the lump in my throat when I think about him. I do not know if I would get that oportunity of true love ever again. However, I take consolation I was abe to experience true love in my life time.

    I have tried not to let the past be a dictator, however it would always be difficult. Especially with my cultural background and I am being percieved as if I have less of an existence without marriage.

  32. schuks21
    February 15, 2013

    Ben my heart goes out to you and you’re son! I too have lost my mother, albeit at a much later age and to illness. The pain never quite goes away but turns into an ache of love that is actually a nice reminder of the beautiful woman who gave birth to me! I hope Jackson feels that ache of love too because your wife, his mother sounded like the most amazing woman!
    You should both be happy and blessed that you knew and loved her and she loved you both right back, and goes on loving you both; as I believe you’re never really gone, because you leave an imprint on all the people you touched in some way , however small!!

    Good luck for the future to you both,

    Sophia ❤

  33. Ben Dyke
    March 5, 2013

    Ben, thanks for allowing us to be part of your journey! I lost my wife of 14 years, Hannah, on January 1st 2010. At the time my daughter was just 2 and my son was 5. Its a hard journey and so much has happened. A week on Saturday I am marrying my girlfriend Cathrine and am starting a different journey towards a new family. I have found that right from Hannah’s death I had two things going on – desperate pain at seeing my best friend suffer and die and leave me to bring up kids on my own, and then concurrently a desperate desire to get away from it all and have a new start. I commented to people at the time that I found both processes took place concurrently, not the grief being fully resolved before the desire and hope for new things came in. And that’s OK. Lots of people couldnt understand that and it caused a lot of tension, with people treating me at times like I had “betrayed” Hannah. But I learned to love myself and go with my way of dealing with the loss, learning from my own mistakes etc. Anyway sorry for going on! Blessings to you on your journey.

  34. Pingback: A Widower’s Poem « Forever My Soulmate

  35. monique
    April 5, 2013

    Hi Ben,
    good to read your story.It is still recent.Hope you are feeling better and enjoying your kid!
    Today my grand daughter showed me her biography she wrote.(.she is 8y.)
    : I am Maia, born in 2004.My mother died when I was 1 y. old…and she goes on to tell about her life…After 7 years I get used to it and think it is good she is able to talk about it..She will need therapy but she is a normal girl.
    Yes, it was also an elderly person who killed my daughter in an car accident and I try still that justice is done.I think it is important my grand daughter will read how it happened when she is a grown up and I will not be anymore..
    I will be happy to hear about you,
    Monique

  36. victoriananana
    April 22, 2013

    Bloody hell I’m in bits. I’ve just found your blog through the Britmum awards shortlist and had to stop and comment, not to share a story, like so many other brave people but to tell you how amazing your blog, and some of these incredible comments left above mine are. I can’t begin to imagine what you’re going though and you’ve just put these rather trivial blogging awards in context for me.

  37. Pingback: Discover in Britain weekly ideas - Over There TO Here

  38. Mr C
    June 7, 2013

    I don’t know how to begin.
    I’m sitting here next to my wife of 38 years being taken away away with Ovarian Cancer.
    It’s not so much not being able to cry as being able to stop.
    I’ve cried every day now for 18 months.
    I’m scared for her, I’m scared for me.
    I read these stories and know I’m not alone, it helps a little.

  39. James
    June 7, 2013

    hey I know….my wife had cancer all through last year and I looked after her the best I could….she died on 26th November at 5am…..it is still crystal clear….you are not alone my friend….you are not alone…..It is horrendous what you have to go through…but you get through it….I have 4 children to look after and this weekend i am organising an archery festival and the whole community is looking forward to it….cry my friend….just cry….I am the best in the east Riding of Yorkshire at crying….I cry anywhere at any time…even in front of the kids and often in the car listening to music…the children put their hands on my shoulders and rub in a loving way….i cannot believe my beautiful wife is not with me, but as much as you want everything to stop…life goes on….it changes completely and what you thought mattered before means nothing now except love of family and friends and your health….savour every minute you have with her….my wife was 42…and I had 18 1/2 years of perfection with her….my oldest girl is 9, my twin girls are 7 and my boy is 5….I do not have a monopoly on tragedy….when you need them Marie Curie nurses are brilliant. Good luck….

    • Mr C
      June 13, 2013

      Thanks James, your right about wanting everything to stop.
      She eventually went on 10th June.
      She was such a huge personality, it has left a massive hole in me, the house, the town.

  40. Ian Kay
    June 18, 2013

    Hi, I’ve just been directed to your site and I am reading with tears streaming down my face.
    I am 38 and my wife passed in January. She was fit and healthy,at home looking after out two boys (3 1/2 and 18months old)
    just before bed she blew her nose, instantly complaining of a headache. Within 2 hours she was in a coma, only to pass away (officially) two days later in the local intensive care unit. my wife had suffered a hoffific bleed to the brain after a major blood vessel burst in her head. There were no warning signs, no one to blame, no illness, all totally out of the blue
    I now find myself a widower and single parent to two very young boys and really struggling with day to day things.
    My mum is being amazing and helping out with child care as I have to work full time but I still find it hard being on my own. I was with my wife for 11 wonderful years, married for 5 and miss her every second I am awake. She was my best friend, the love of my life and a superb mummy to my beautiful boys. I keep asking the same question WHY………
    I does give me strength knowing there are other guys out there living a similar life to me and that they are coping well.

    Ian

  41. larry
    July 22, 2013

    I just came across this site. I lost my wife of 27 years on feb 9th. She had had a surgical procedure a couple of days before and was dead 2 days later. We have 3 beautiful kids but the task of raising them myself is daunting, not to mention the loneliness, guilt, etc. Unfortunately, I have very little family and feel very isolated. Any suggestions on how to keep sane would be much appreciated. Good luck to you all.

    • dorothy
      January 10, 2014

      my husband passed this passed sept 10th,2013,,4 months now have passed and i thought it was getting easier till tonight,,the nightmares are back,,i hate them,,they make me afraid to go to sleep after so i am up most the night..i am alone here all my family is back east,not the best situation to find yourself in,,i don’t think i p;anned this right.i wish you much peace,one step at a time,is how it must go,God Bless.
      doro_43@hotmail.com

  42. Carl
    September 15, 2013

    My wife died Monday. Buried her yesterday. Knew this was going to happen for the past 2.5 years, but never knew what to expect. Thinking about a future without a partner is really daunting. I have three kids and we talk about how our family is different now and that somethings will change while others stay the same. We were always very close to her family but not mine. I (wrongfully, I’ll admit) resent this and have been trying very hard to re-connect with my family for the past year or so.
    Anyhow, I like this site. Before she was diagnosed with cancer, I never thought I would be part of the cancer community. I also never dreamed I’d be part of the widower community. Now I am. I look forward to finding positive support here and anywhere I can find it.

    • James
      September 19, 2013

      Carl, you will find positivity in yourself….keep busy….keep routines…..enjoy everyone around you….enjoy everything around you…..cry for now and feel the loss….that will work through….play for time….you will go for the kids at their pace for their needs…that is fine………I have 10 months lead on you….If I can…you can…good luck…..it is my wedding anniversary tomorrow….I have been up and down today crying laughing….that’s just the way it is…good luck… James

    • lifeasawidower.com
      September 21, 2013

      I hope you can find some support and empathy here, Carl. I’m so sorry to hear of your loss.

    • Ben Dyke
      September 21, 2013

      Carl. You are right in at the moment. So sorry. My wife died in 2010 from cancer and my kids were just 2 and 5 at the time. There are others out here who know what its like. After dealing with the immediate horror I have found some great encouragement and support from places like this and Care for the Family and other organisations with people who know and have experienced the same terrible situations.

  43. Elizabeth Buna
    September 19, 2013

    I read your story and was touched by how much your son reminds me of mine ( he’s 3) . I doubt I would be able to cope if he lost his dad.You are truly amazing sharing your story and feelings giving some release to others in a state of loss …. I lost my father 3 years ago to cancer and still cant properly get my head round the huge hole left behind.

    You and yours are obviously beautiful souls…I wish you and the others who find solace in what you are doing the strength to carry on.

  44. larry
    September 19, 2013

    Carl: All I can say is, hang in there. I lost my wife in February. This Saturday would have been our 28th anniversary. I too am now raising three teenagers. They are my strength and reason for being. Weekends tend to be the most difficult, too much free time so try to stay as busy as possible. When I have time to think, it’s not pretty. Allow yourself to cry, greive, only natural. If you feel the need, speak to a pro, ditto for the kids. It helps. Good luck and God bless.

  45. samp77
    October 6, 2013

    Hi Ben,
    I lost my husband on 4 December 2012 to brain cancer, he was just 36…I know what you are going through. Thanks for sharing your story…your wife seemed lovely. It is really hard for others to truly understand what this is like if they haven’t been through it…support helps…but just getting through each day one at a time is really all we can do.

  46. shirleyannnattrass@gmail.com
    October 10, 2013

    Hi Shirley
    i lost my husband i 2 0 3 march he had cancer, he was 65 years old i miss him so much i would like a friend. to have coffee with.
    from Shirley

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  48. Pingback: The Versatile Blogger Award | Greet Grief

  49. Greet Grief
    December 18, 2013

    When I read your story I realized we had so much in common – sudden death of our spouses leaving us with a young child and being young ourselves. I have so enjoyed reading your blog. That is why I nominated you for The Versatile Blogger Award! http://greetgrief.com/2013/12/18/the-versatile-blogger-award/

  50. Pingback: wishing peace | Life as a Widower

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