I never realised life could be so tough, so painful or so challenging. I have grieved for my father, Robert’s sister, my aunt, friends and pets, and thought those days were tough. We have gone through health scares together and coped with a pandemic. The loss of Robert though; my beloved partner, best friend and lover is a whole new level of bereavement. It is tough, really tough and I know a long journey still lies ahead.

It is now just over two months since I returned home to find Robert dead. He had collapsed from a massive heart attack after taking his cup of tea upstairs. Some mornings or afternoons I cannot believe he has gone. I imagine him suddenly coming home, and that the past few months will have simply been a horrid dream. Other mornings or evenings I find myself staring where I found him, feeling numb or overwhelmed by grief. And then there are the moments when I find myself talking to him, or talking about him with family and friends. Enjoying the wonderful memories of an incredible life together, and the positive impact he had on so many lives. No wonder so many have donated in his memory, and so many plan to attend his memorial on 25th May or watch it by zoom. He will be missed by many, and we want to acknowledge that shared loss as well as celebrate just how amazing he was.

I hesitated about sharing exactly how I am feeling here as I am discovering that many, particularly those who have not suffered a close loss, don’t quite know how to react when I answer honestly to the question ‘how are you?’. However sharing helps me, so I am going to continue to share here and in person when you ask. If you cannot cope, then that’s absolutely fine, but suggest you either unfollow my blog or don’t ask me when you see me! I don’t want to make things awkward for you or more upsetting for me.

I have also discovered, as have my extraordinary step-daughters, how our culture really doesn’t prepare any of us to know what to say to a grieving widow or daughter. I therefore thought it be helpful to share with you some tips, although even these take with a pinch of salt as there is not one right way to approach a person overwhelmed by grief. Our wants and needs change throughout the day, and what works one day may not work the other. Bereavement is not a linear journey, especially when it is still this raw and this close. However hopefully you may find these helpful;

  • Don’t say ‘I know how you feel’ as unless you have been widowed it won’t be the same, and even then grief is different for every person. So also be cautious about sharing your own experiences of grief, especially if recent. I am not in the best place to listen.
  • It is however absolutely fine to say ‘I’m so very sorry‘ or to say ‘I can only imagine how hard it is/how awful you feel‘. In fact I encourage you to say ‘I miss him too‘ and also to share your stories about Robert. I want to talk about him.
  • Do stay in touch. The random texts and emails I have been receiving mean as much as the regular check ins. And it doesn’t need to be a counselling message, I love receiving photos of things that matter to you, a silly GIF or just a hello. There is no time limit on grief, so if you can over the coming weeks and months keep walking the road with me by occasionally send a message. Sometimes I will reply immediately, other times it is just good to know you are thinking of me. One small request though if you drop me a line after a break, please don’t say qualify it by saying ‘I’ve been busy’ or ‘life has been hectic’.
  • Be specific with offers of help, whether that’s a date for a catch up or a task that you have identified that needs doing. I have a list in the kitchen for the latter!
  • Please bear with me if sometimes I change my mind about meeting up, leave early or say I cannot chat right now. Occasionally it is overwhelming to socialise, but the next time I will almost certainly say yes.
  • I am beginning to adjust to my new normal but it is going to take time. So please don’t ask about the future. I may bring it up and then you can listen, but now is not the time to be asking me to think ahead nor is it time to offer solutions of your own.
  • Don’t think there’s a ban on laughter. Laughter helps me heal, and occasionally losing myself in happy moments gives my mind and body a break from the rawness of grief.
  • And if you have a moment do research grief and bereavement too. There are some amazing books, guides and blog posts out there. Not only will they help you around someone who is grieving, but they will probably help you with your grief too. For the latter a great place to start is CRUSE and for more tips check out how other people can help.

As you may have gathered by the length of this post, this morning is an okay morning for me. It helps so much knowing you are all there listening. So thank you all for being there, and for enabling me to share this post.

Robert was an amazing man, the absolute best.

97 thoughts

  1. Oh Becky, I am so sorry about your loss and that I m only just reading this sad news now. Maybe not in the same way as losing a husband I understand just what you are going through at the moment as we have just lost my nan, it has brought back so many memories of losing my mum. I hope that you are looking after yourself. Take care and always here if you need some support.

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  2. So sorry for your loss, Becky! He was an amazing man & I can’t even begin to imagine your grief. I’ve fallen behind on a lot of posts & had no idea. Mine & Susan’s thoughts are with you during this painful time; only a small token, but a virtual hug from the both of us 🤗

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  3. Oh Becky, I am so sorry and it is a huge absence to bear. I loved your posts particularly about the birds in Portugal and I believe your husband was very much a bird man too. I am sorry we will not be able to meet up with him in Olhao but hope one day you when you are ready you will return. A sudden heart attack is what took my father in 1979 and my mother was devastated as he too was a soulmate. Thinking of you and sending whatever virtual hugs and blessings. Do keep sharing it is important for us all to understand grief and our love for life.xxx

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    1. Thank you so so much. He was indeed a bird man, and I am sorry you won’t have the chance to meet him too. Your virtual hugs and thoughts help enormously.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello Beckyb, I also thought your post was very well-written and full of good advice and thank you for sharing it. I was nearby last week visiting friends in Tavira and was shown your post. There were several passages that I so identified with, as a widower. “I never realised life could be so tough, so painful or so challenging”. I have grieved for my late wife but take some comfort that I was with her at the end, I talked to her for 10 minutes after she stopped breathing because I had read that they might still be able to hear and I did not want her to feel alone or afraid. The loss of Jean my beloved wife, best friend and lover was indeed a whole new level of bereavement. It is beyond tough, Sometimes I still cannot believe she has gone. I want the past year to have simply been a horrid dream but we both know that life goes on. Other times I find myself staring at pictures, feeling numb or overwhelmed by grief. And then there are the moments when I find myself talking to her, or talking about her with family and friends. We are blessed to have friends and family to help us through this, you are trying to help others, if you feel that you would like to talk about it feel free to mail me. If you believe in God then they are gone to a better place, if you don’t then they are now beyond any suffering. x

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    1. oh Chris sending huge hugs. I find comfort in your response as I am doing and feeling very much as you have described. It helps to know I am not alone, although at the same time I am so so sorry that you have gone through this awful experience too. I may well email in you in a week or two so thank you so much for the offer. I have found talking to others who have been widowed so helpful. Thank you again so much, and continue to take care of yourself too

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  5. I am so sorry too, dear Becky B,for your loss. This is really great writing and share, I wished to give a real hugs to you,… But be sure, my heart with you dear Becky B, Love, nia

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  6. I can see that Robert was an amazing man. And if my spouse passed away – I would want to talk about him too and the list you gave us is so helpful.

    Back int he 1990s – we had a mother (Mrs Nerud) who lost two children. They died while with a baby sitter – they were playing hide and seek – and they both climbed into an old storage chest and couldn’t get out (so sad!)
    anyhow, the reason I shared the story, was I didn’t know how to reach out to her and so I just walked up and asked, “How can I be of help?”
    She paused and then said she could use a ride to the grief support group for parents who lost children.
    I was eager to take her and we went together twice. she said it was a good experience both times – but you know – she was just numb and still in shock – because that shock can last a while.
    and for me, well I got totally blessed for my outreach (not just to bond with her more) but it was LIFE CHANGING to spend a few hours (twice) with parents who lost children – that kind of event is sobering and sure change me. My son was an infant at the time and I know it led to me appreciating his life – but it went deep than that for me.
    I still recall stories from some of the parents and it really was a paradigm shift; life is precious.

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  7. This blogging community is amazing and you are amazing. Thank you for sharing your beautifully written blog post and sharing your wonderful photos. ❤️ It makes me wish I could have met your husband as you share his smile and wonderful photos. It makes me want to give you a hug and hold your hand and take some of the pain away. All I can do though is say thank you for sharing. Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom and advice and thank you for being you! Sending warm hugs and it’s wonderful you are surrounded by loving family and friends.

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  8. This was a really helpful post for all of us comforting someone grieving the loss of a spouse. Thank you Becky. The price of loving is such deep pain sometimes. My heart goes out to you!

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  9. Like many others, I thought your post was well-written and full of good advice; thank you for sharing it, Becky. Yes, being kind to ourselves is essential and sometimes so hard to do.

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  10. I read this the other night when I was too tired to take it in, so I saved it to come back to, and I think I’ll now save it permanently. It’s a great piece of writing, Becky, full of sage advice on both dealing with grief and reacting to other people’s. It’s a lovely thing to give at a time when you are hurting so badly yourself.

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  11. I’m very sorry for your loss!
    I sort of know what it feels like. It’s been three years since my husband passed away. He was very, very sick and I knew the day would come – some day, but not as quickly as it did. He was ready to go. I wasn’t. I know that he’s in a better place now – without pain and without worries, that helps me a bit. There are still better and worse times. However, I miss him every day…
    If I may suggest: Do whatever you need to do that will help you through these sad times. Listen to your inner voice and enjoy all the chocolate that might ease some of the pain.
    Big hug to you.
    Claudia

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  12. I truly am so sorry for your loss. I lost my husband, also named Robert, a year and a half ago after 43 years of marriage. I sometimes still expect to see him when I walk into a room. The loss is keenly felt. I still cry sometimes. Some days are okay, and some are very hard. And sometimes I think I am having a good day, and then out of the blue I become overwhelmed with grief. Being a widow is a journey, and although your journey will be filled with sadness and grieving, may it also be a time of finding comfort and joy in precious memories and in the love of family and friends. Be good to yourself. Be patient with yourself. Do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself.

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    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by, and to share your loss and your wise words. It is really helpful to hear them.

      You take care too, being kind to ourselves I am learning is key xx

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