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FIRST PERSON: A Widow’s Words

TRIGGER WARNING: SUICIDE & BEREAVEMENT

first person

“What’s in a name?

Daughter, sister, friend, wife, widow….. Why do I get so hung up on titles? The title I was happiest to have was given to me on Sunday 25th May 2008 – the title was Wife. Or Wifey as my hubby Deanie called me.

But then Dean took that title away on Saturday 20th August 2011 and gave me a new one – Widow. I am a widow aged just 25.

I just don’t know where to start. I’m feeling so many different emotions – anger, grief, sadness, loneliness, lost. But the one emotion I know will never change is love. The love I have for my husband can’t change despite what my darling husband has done to me.

I greatly appreciate all the love and support of my friends and family. It’s mad – you don’t realise how much people care until something like this happens. I just wish people would show their loved ones how much they mean to them each and every day. I wish I was one of those people that showed my husband how much I loved him, despite our arguments.

I fear I did not do enough for our relationship. It is very difficult when you have two very strong minded individuals in a couple. Arguments are frustrating because one of you has to be right, it seemed like we never compromised and that is what relationships are all about – give and take.

My mind at the moment is full of ‘What ifs’. What if I hadn’t started to argue back? Should i have stayed quiet and done what my husband wanted me to do? That’s what made him ‘happy’, at least for a while.

Dean was depressed and I didn’t even realise.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I now kick myself so much for not noticing the symptoms.

I saw his unshaven beard, mismatched clothing and general poor appearance as him not bothering to make an effort. I saw his lack of interest in going out to the cinema, bowling or to a restaurant as not caring enough to take his wife out. I saw the lack of kissing, cuddling and intimacy as him not fancying me anymore.

Yet all of these characteristics are classic signs of depression. He was often very irritable and argumentative. His moods would swing so easily from calm to anger to feelings of worthlessness with such ease and quickness.

I’ve been left with so many unanswered questions. I know I will never get these answers, but I truly hope the pain will ease. I am the most impatient person in the world and all people keep saying to me is ‘The pain will go away with time’. It has got more bearable but not a day goes by without me thinking of my late husband.

The emotional rollercoaster I have been on has been incredibly intense. The emotion I felt most at ease with was numbness: I’m not even sure if it’s an emotion or not, but it’s the one I felt most at peace with.

My emotions have varied wildly.   I feel intense frustrated anger at why he did this to me and his family. I am so incredibly mad at him. It’s not just me that has been affected, but my poor Dad felt so helpless that he wasn’t able to protect me but how could he? We didn’t know Dean was thinking of killing himself.  No one did.

I occasionally brighten up a little and even laugh at jokes, but that is closely followed by extreme guilt. What right have I got to be happy or laugh when I felt responsible for the death of my husband? I know I’m not 100% to blame, Dean made the decision to do what he did himself. But how can you not blame yourself and feel responsible when someone so close to you does something like this?

The funeral was incredibly tough. I never expected it to be easy, but no one can prepare you for burying your husband – the man i was supposed to grow old with.

On the morning of the funeral, I was going through the motions alright, but it hit me when people started arriving at the house. There were so many people.  It was such a beautiful day and everyone was standing outside. But when I heard the funeral car was coming, I had to go inside and didn’t want to see it.

The journey seemed to take forever, which of course is silly to say since we were travelling understandable slow. I was annoyed by people staring at us, but not showing any signs of respect like bowing their heads or signing a cross. The first person to show respect was a man, similar in age to me, with a cigarette in his hands but at least he showed respect.

I was so shocked at how many people were there for Dean at the crematorium. I was so proud to see how many lives Dean had touched.

We walked into Wild Horses by Rolling Stones, such a lovely song – Dean loved the Stones. At the beginning of the service I read a poem. It was such a beautiful and fitting poem.  My goal for the day was to have the strength to do the reading, and I did. I tried my hardest to read it on my own, I wanted to do it for Dean. But my brother saw how emotional I was, and came to stand with me.  But i did it.

The service was beautiful and when we said our final goodbyes to Dean I placed a rose on his coffin alongside some of his family. Two lovely pictures were displayed of Dean with his beaming smile. The photos were so bitter-sweet. He seemed so happy in them but I find myself wondering if it was really a mask?

I thought I had cried all the tears I ever could but even today I still get upset thinking about Dean. Dean was my life for nearly seven years. I was very young when we got together. I have a saying: “Never regret something that once made you smile”. And despite all the tears and heartache I have experienced because of Dean’s decision, I have no regrets about our life together.

I am just incredibly sad that the person who I thought i was so close to, someone I would tell my deepest, darkest secrets to, wasn’t able to speak to me, his wife, about his wish to end his life.

I’ve written this article to urge anyone thinking of ending their life to spare a thought for those they are going to leave behind. Please don’t think that it would be better for them if you were not in their lives. Even the strongest person in the world will be destroyed when someone they love decides life isn’t worth living.”

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article or in the comments below, are not those held by CALM or its Trustees unless stated, and liability cannot be accepted for such comments. We encourage friendly and constructive debate, but please don't share personal contact details when commenting and exercise caution when considering any advice offered by others. We don’t allow abusive, offensive or inappropriate comments or comments that could be interpreted as libellous, defamatory or commercial and we will remove these without warning as and when we find them.

19 Responses to this article

  1. Thank you for sharing my story. Dean died over 15 months ago but I still think of him.

    I really do urge anyone who feels life isn’t worth living to speak to those who care about you and/or a professional.

    Life will always seem difficult sometimes but honestly there are ways of making it better.

    Rebbecca 16th November 2012 at 10:55 am
  2. Thankyou for telling your story. I found it very moving and helpful. You sound like a very nice person. Interesting that your husband’s name was Dean – I often recall the young American actor James Dean – he often played the parts of young men/teenagers who had what they now call ‘issues’. In real life he was troubled too. His favourite hobby was driving very fast cars – and he died at a very young age driving a fast car. Some say it was an unconscious death wish but I don’t know about that.
    My depression was triggered by events in my family which happened when I was six years old – I had always had a very good relationship with my mother but then when I was six she rejected me and basically told me I was bad and that unless I changed my behaviour I was not welcome in the family and would have to pack my bags and leave. In was heartbroken but could not runaway ( for reasons I cannot go into here). I bottled it all up and just tried to get on with my life. Education and school-life became my only outlet. Did not even realise I was depressed until I was 27 years old after my ( first) marriage broke up. Then I got into a religion in a big way and that was it for the next 16 years until I started seeking private psychotherapy help for symptoms of depression. Despite making a lot of progress I am still suffering quite severe symptoms, even though I am on anti-depressants for the last two years now. Good job we can’t get guns in the UK – otherwise I would have easily shot myself by now. The mornings on waking are worst. I use cannabis a bit in the evenings but wish I didn’t.
    My wife can’t really understand. I could do with a group to attend. I envy alcoholics since they have AA meetings they can go to. I have nothing. I feel very lonely inside. I feel that if I talk to ‘ordinary people’ they dont know what to say and that I am just bringing them down.
    Dont wanna go to a psychiatrist because I will than have ‘records on file’ and will forever more have to declare it all and feel I am a failure.
    If anyone has any ideas how I can move into a better life please tell me.
    Thanks

    Steve Blake 16th November 2012 at 9:46 pm
  3. Steve,

    I know how you feel and have always felt the need to be the strong one that isn’t seen as a failure, to bottle up the things that bother me, to react with a smile and an “everything is ok” attitude. It is ok not to feel good sometimes, it is ok to need help and you wont be a failure for doing so.

    I feel like a failure every time I talk to someone about how I feel, but less so each time too. You realise there are other people that feel the same way, other people that have learnt to cope with these feelings and if they are able to, then we all can. Each of us need other people to lean on in order to succeed in life, and that goes with our health too.

    It would be a lie to say there is no stigma attached. Unfortunately, that is something to handle in itself. But each time you realise this stigma, realise that whoever you can trust enough to talk to, will feel privileged to help. Sometimes you have to take a risk and that is the scariest part, once it is out there, there is a lot ledd to worry about. Be it friends, family, CALM or a private therapist/counsellor, there are people that will help. The toughest part for me was admitting that I needed someone to help and that I couldn’t cope. I couldn’t even say the words.

    Who knows, this chance you have taken to ask for help, may help someone else – I know that everytime I feel that I can help someone, or that someone else feels the way I do, I can take strength from it to reassure me that I am not mad. And that makes it feel like less of a failure, in fact, admitting to it has helped me feel more of a success!

    I hope this insight helps reassure you. You don’t need to be scared of being seen as a failure but I can understand why you do. Ask for help wherever you can and try to take that chance. It might help change your life.

    All the best.

    Will 19th November 2012 at 1:15 pm
  4. Will,
    Thanks very much for your comments which have the ring of truth and understanding in them. I am encouraged and will make the effort to speak to someone. I know when I confided in my brother a year ago I was pleasantly surpised at his reaction. Thanks a million for taking the trouble to post your comment. I will probably phone the CALM helpline sometime soon.

    Steve Blake 19th November 2012 at 8:03 pm
  5. Hi Steve,
    I just wanted to say that some places do offer informal group therapy kind of sessions, if you feel that would help. Sometimes I find its good to talk to someone completely removed from my situation about my depression because I know I can what I truly feel and it doesn’t have the same kind of potential repercussions.
    Take care

    Kitty 2nd December 2012 at 2:19 pm
  6. Thank you, you saved a life tonight x

    Tom 3rd December 2012 at 11:48 pm
  7. I mean it, thank you x

    Tom 4th December 2012 at 12:11 am
  8. Hello Rebbecca

    I’ve just read your story and wanted to thank you for sharing it so openly. I too lost my partner to suicide last year and I understand only too well the feelings of anger, loneliness, the what ifs and feeling angry with yourself for not spotting the signs of depression. It’s exactly the same for me. I hate the fact that there is anyone else that has had to go through it, but I know it helps me to know that there are others like you that truly understand.

    Friends and family seem to think my time for grieving is up now and that I should
    have “got over it” by now. It’s not something you ever get over, its just something
    we learn to live with.

    I’d echo Rebbecca by saying that those left behind by a suicide will experience a
    life forever changed and will always be devastated by it. Please don’t ever feel
    that our lives would be better off without you in it, I know only too well that
    my life is worse for not being able to see my partner’s smile, hug him, talk to
    him, help him, laugh with him. This will be my first Christmas without him and if
    only I could turn back time, there are so many things I would do and say
    differently.

    Please please ask for the help you need if you are feeling desperate. You are
    demonstrating your strength by doing so, not your weakness. I have felt desperate
    too over the past year and have just been to my own doctor to stop myself going
    down the slippery path that my partner did. It doesn’t matter who you reach out
    to, just please do it. x

    Clare 5th December 2012 at 11:58 am
  9. Thank you so much for the responses.

    Tom- I read your reply and I just had to leave work as I was in tears. If I helped you to stop completing suicide, then some of the grief I have felt over the past 16 months was worth it.

    Regardless how deep you feel your in, please realise people will be affected if you die. There was over 150 people at my husband’s funeral. I had never met some of them but there were people from school even a bike forum he was on that came to pay their respects.

    I see asking for help as being strong. You are seeking help when you need it. Asking for help takes courage and guts and I truly admire that.

    I’m afraid people that have never suffered from depression will never understand how bad you feel. It is in part ignorance but it’s also peoples lack of empathy. It’s not that they do not care, it’s simply, they do not understand.

    Clare I am so sorry for you experiencing the same. It’s the most horrific thing to deal with but your clearly strong. But you do still have a right to grieve.

    Rebbecca 13th December 2012 at 11:06 am
  10. Hi Rebecca, i’ve just read your story and I too am a widow at 25, my husband had cancer, so it’s a bit different, but i am feeling most of the emotions that you mentioned. I was ‘lucky’ enough to be able to say goodbye to my husband, but as time goes on theres more things that i wish i could say. I’ve since given birth to our daughter and i feel like i am now grieving for her and the loss of her daddy, which she’s too young to know about yet.
    I’m really sorry that Dean left you, but try to think about the happy times, everyone argues and wishes they could have done more, me included. I hate the term ‘widow’ but i love having my husband’s name and the photos and memories hopefully will become something i treasure, if the pain ever diminishes. I agree, the numbness was the easiest to cope with, but that has long gone now. I hope you managed to enjoy christmas as best as you could. x

    kate 5th January 2013 at 9:42 pm
  11. Rebecca,
    thank you for sharing your story and being so honest in it. As people say, to truly understand it, you have to experience it first hand. I’ve suffered from depression now for 25 years (I’m 41) and it’s not getting any better. The sad reality is that when it gets really bad, you start believing that you don’t deserve help, like in my case I’m not actually worthy of help. I just want a day of feeling “normal”. Not happy, not joyous. Just normal. It’s a horrible horrible disease.

    Ian 6th January 2013 at 11:23 pm
  12. Just realised CALM is aimed at 18-35 year old men. Unfortunately I’m out of that range. Just wondered how I can get help. My GP isn’t interested. 🙁

    Ian 7th January 2013 at 1:32 pm
  13. Hi Ian

    Our helpline is for men of all ages, so please do call if you need to. Everyone is worthy of help, regardless of age, gender or situation. Our advisors are there to listen and provide information about next steps, how you can find help locally and offer non judgmental, anonymous and confidential support covering a wide range of issues. Our national phone number is 0800 58 58 58, our London number is 0800 802 58 58. Lines are open 5pm til midnight, very day of the year. We hope we can offer some help to you. It’s incredibly tough and a brave move to actively seek help.

    All the best,
    CALM

    rachelclare 7th January 2013 at 1:39 pm
  14. theres no help. No hope.Won’t be missed like this. Doubt it will be noticed

    ian 20th January 2013 at 12:32 am
  15. thanks Rebecca

    you have nothing to blame yourself for

    my life looks so good, nice house, good job, beautiful son, but I frequently feel the ones I love would be better off if I wasn’t here, and feel I’m getting closer to taking the ultimate step.

    Your words have helped me more than I can say

    matt 20th May 2013 at 3:48 pm
  16. Hi my name is Pauline I’m 48 years old and I’m a chef. I live with beautiful daughter age 22,
    I lost my husband nearly 15 years ago. So at 34 I was made a widow and a single mum, left alone to bring up our 2 gorgeous children .
    My daughter was nearly 8 and my son 5 when their dad died.
    It was the 3 of us that found Don, the children went in followed by me.
    That image of my husband will stay with me till my dying day.
    I felt the safe world I had given my children had been pulled from under our feet.
    The children where my life we did everything together.
    We had that special bond that no one could break.
    We had a 3 way relationship that people envied.
    I got on with my life bringing up my children.
    From July 1998 to April 2011 life seemed good, my daughter had started Uni studying to
    become a teacher, my son was at 6th form doing his A Levels.
    I thought myself incredibly lucky to have such wonderful children they weren’t perfect but
    they were my angles little gifts given to me to cherish.
    Then my world completely fell apart, for on Good Friday 2011 my beautiful gorgeous
    son took his own life.

    Pauline 18th June 2013 at 11:32 pm
  17. Pauline,

    I am so very sorry for the double heartache that you have had to deal with. It’s so difficult to understand why this happened.

    It is OK to ask for help, this is not a sign of weakness but a positive sign to say you are taking control of your life.

    I can not begin to imagine the pain you feel. People deal with grief inso many different ways. I was very organised and felt I needed to keep what little control I had.

    Rebbecca Bennett 21st November 2013 at 3:24 pm
  18. just read Rebecca’s story and the other posts. My husband died 6 months ago and I feel more dessolute now than I ever have. I have spoken to a cruse counsellor but did not feel any peace came out of it. I wish I could talk to another widow who is feeling the same emotions as myself and maybe we could find some comfort together. I feel in such a bad place right now. Every night when I go to bed I pray I will not wake up again. Can you help me in any way.

    Sonia 22nd February 2014 at 1:47 pm
  19. Hi Sonia

    We,re so sorry to hear about your loss. CALM have a private online bereavement forum where you can chat to others who have been bereaved by suicide. If you contact our Supporter Care Officer, Niamh, on niamh@thecalmzone.net she can give you details and also help you find the support that you need. You should also Get in touch with the organisation Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) who have a helpline (0844 561 6855), support information on their website and also host local group meetings. Have a look at their website: http://www.uk-sobs.org.uk. Losing someone to suicide is traumatic and extraordinarily tough for those left behind. We hope this is a help to you and that you find the support you need.

    Take Care
    Team CALM x

    rachelclare 22nd February 2014 at 6:33 pm

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