My husband, Dave, and I had been married for 51 years when he died of leaukaemia in 2009. We’d been married since I was 17 and we had four children together. My life changed overnight, not just because we’d been together for such a long time, but he did so much for me and our family. As well as dealing with the grief of losing him, I had to adapt to a completely different role.
I took his death badly and felt like a zombie for a long time. I struggled and didn’t know how to make myself feel better. Our life together had been the only one I really knew and I missed his presence and all the little things. I kept telling myself he would come back, and that, ‘this isn’t my life.’ It was really scary to think about a future alone.
It was hard to go along to the Waterside Cancer Support Centre at first because I didn’t know what to expect and wondered if everyone would be sitting around crying. I felt angry, upset and low on confidence and didn’t think anyone would understand. But everyone was so welcoming and I soon felt I could open up about my feelings. Nothing was taboo.
Through my visits, I found out about their support groups and joined the coffee mornings and friendship group. I also joined the monthly strollers group and have been walking with them for about three years now. I absolutely love it! I’ve always been an active person and love meeting new people and getting out and about, so it’s perfect for me. Nothing beats getting out in the fresh air for a gentle stroll and a chat. The Centre is in the waterfront village of Hythe which is in between the New Forest National Park and Southampton Water, so the views are beautiful. Some days we might take in the marina or go through the woods. I look forward to it every month because it’s both supportive and social. I’ve made lots of friends, too.
Joining the support groups has given me the confidence to take little steps to cope with my grief. I’ve had opportunities to meet new people and try new things, but also to cry and grieve and feel like that’s ok. Having a meet-up in the diary makes me go out, when perhaps I would rather hide indoors. And if I’m having a bad day I know I can just go along and chat. I try and live in the moment more now. I give myself permission to remember the past, but not dwell on it too much.
I know that Dave wouldn’t want me to be sad. He’d want me to live my life, and with the help of the Waterside Cancer Support Centre I’m beginning to accept that although things will never be the same, there can be lots more to look forward to.