Sunday, 8 February 2009

What now?

Just over 6 months ago on 2nd August 2008, the love of my life died for the first time when a wiring fault sent his heart into ventricular fibrillation. Although the paramedics did manage to re-establish a rhythm, it had taken them over half an hour to arrive, with the result that he was left irremediably brain-damaged.

The next two days were spent in the safe, warm, hopeful cocoon of ICU. For the first 24 hours, he was kept on ice (literally), allowing us to believe he could still recover. As he slowly warmed up, the myoclonic jerks began, indicating the extent of the damage. Then we were taken into another room for 'that' conversation. And so began the 10 agonising hours waiting for his otherwise strong, healthy body to finally shut down, watching the countdown of his life in the numbers on the machine that goes beep.

With his second death, my life as I knew it ended as well.

45 years old, I was left with a half-finished house on a Welsh hilltop, a mini-smallholding, one dog, 7 sheep, 8 chickens, 14 ducks and 9 quail.
Over the next few months, those animals were my lifeline, my reason to get up every morning. They gave structure to an otherwise empty day. Get up, let the birds out, feed them, feed the sheep, feed the dog. Sit on the sofa and cry. Look at some photos and cry some more. Walk around the house and try to find him. Fail. Cry. Then feed the sheep again, feed the birds, walk the dog, feed him. Shut up the birds. Cry some more, drink too much and go to bed.


As the fog of bereavement gradually dissipates, I realise that part of the glue that held our lives together for 26 years was food. Choosing food, shopping for, cooking and eating it. Food was the reason we ended up on our hilltop. Here we learned how to grow it, raise it and, yes, kill it for ourselves. In the first few weeks after R's death, it was all I could do to swallow enough to keep body and soul together, but the appetite has gradually returned, to the extent that I can look to the future. I don't know if I can manage to carry on with what we started together, but it seems only right that I should try.


  1. Oh I'm so sorry to hear your story. My Gavin had several arrhythmia events as well, but died after two years with a stage 4 cancer. I'll read up, welcome to the blogosphere, and I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. Are you finding others -- in person, virtual? I'd love to chat more.

    Thinking of you.


  2. Hello Supa. Thank you for replying. I am finding this business of opening my soul to the blogosphere ever so slightly strange, but after 7 months I suddenly find that my head is full of words that need to go somewhere. I have one other person IRL who is a club member, but she lives quite a long way away and we are both rubbish at talking on the phone. When we can get together and talk it helps a lot, but mostly the words stay bottled up inside.
    Thank you for writing your blog - a lot of what you have written has really struck home with me. It has helped a lot.


  3. Don't keep the cork on. Your writing is wonderful, gives the real sense of how you are coping and hurting and going on, as we all must.
    Have you been on The thing I found most freeing (I found an in-person support group) was how common these crazy experiences were: Dealing with in-laws, legal entanglements, grieving, coping and so on. It kept me sane in a storm.
    x any time.

  4. I've been sitting here reading your words after stumbling upon it from Debbie's (SuddenWidow). I am so sorry for your loss, the shock, the loneliness, and the void that comes as a younger widow. I hope that you find that unleashing of these feelings will be cathartic to you.
    All the best, Jackie

  5. HI J--Lynette here. I found you through Boo's blog.

    I am so sorry that you are on this journey too.

    I lost my husband David April 6, 2008. I have been writing about my experiences at if you want to have a look.

    I also have started reading Widows cookbook--maybe I will find something in there to make me want to start cooking again. David and I were definitely foodies and he was the cook. My stove has dust on it--how sad is that? :)

    Take care of yourself!

  6. My name is Janice Kay Brown-Bogenrief I am 57 and the mother of 3 wonderful children. I have muscular dystrophy and have been in a wheel chair for the last 18 years. I raised my children alone because my ex-husband loved the bottle more than he loved me. I am finding reading your blog is helping me cope with my loss also. I feel my husband died in way too because I lost the real Mark I married because he is always drunk. I must go to bed now but I want to talk with you if you will write me. I live in Delano Minnesota USA my email is I have a blog account under MomBogie but have not blogged yet but follow many great bloggers like you and enjoy reading.
    please email me if you would love to chat.
    Janice Kay Brown-Bogenrief