Mike’s Story

Planet Grief may have been started by a widow, and there is no doubt that the majority of contributors over the years (whether writing about the death of a spouse, a child or a marriage) have been female, but when I read Mike’s opening statement, I realised that some readers of Planet Grief may be under the impression that this blog is only for widows. It’s not. As I have said in recent press interviews, it doesn’t matter who we are, how much money we have, where we live or went to school, whether we barely scraped a pass in our school exams or have a brain like Stephen Hawking’s, if we have been married five months or fifty years, whether we were never married but lived with our partner as if we were, grief, the loss of someone (or something) we loved and cherished, affects us all. Our paths to Planet Grief may be very different, but our destination is the same.

Reading Mike’s story, I had an overwhelming desire to wrap him up, to protect him, to help him, to somehow ease his way through grief, but the cruelty is there is no way around grief, only through it, and for some the journey is particularly hard and painfully slow.

Over to Mike…

I hope you don’t mind a widower writing on the site. I lost my civil partner (although I considered us married) in 2013. He developed a cough around Christmas time which would not go away and was referred to the QE hospital in Birmingham for tests. He had had two stents put in after minor heart attacks but seemed in high spirits. Sadly, this was not to be. The Surgeon explained that he needed a by pass. As this is a relatively common operation but not without a risk ( we were told an 80% survival rate which sounded good to us), his op was delayed a week, but in May he finally underwent the operation. It lasted over 15 hours and he never regained consciousness and after a week, they turned off the machines. I was just stunned. We had been together for nearly 30 years and had been in a civil partnership for 6 years. I was 52 and my partner was 59. I still don’t know how to cope without him. I feel my future has been stolen away. We always talked about what we would do when we retired; we had plans to live in California or Cyprus. Sadly, my world fell around me. I was already unemployed after losing a good job due to government cutbacks. I had to go bankrupt and lost our home and car. We had had a good lifestyle and I feel so demoralised and beaten down. I don’t feel any better with the time since his death; I just feel alone. I suppose I am stronger than I think as people tell me I seem to be coping. I don’t really know what to do in the future. Sorry.


Planet Grief
Reply November 13, 2015

Mike. Another widow, a good friend of mine, has asked if I would pass on her email address to you. If you would like this, please can you contact me through the blog and I will arrange it. H xx

Reply November 13, 2015


Nothing I can say will ease your pain, loneliness or despair. None of us has that gift. Nevertheless, believe me when I say, in time, your own time, things will improve. I deliberately don't say "get better" because there will always be pain but it will be less than today and tomorrow? Well, that's tomorrow.
You are not alone, we all know. Take some small solace in this and carry on.

Reply November 13, 2015

such resonance with me and the other 10 i know: the latest tragedy to afflict 1 of my circles is that the civil partner of our adjoining allotment holder Mike collapsed and died there last Sunday aged just 37: details are scarce for a variety of reasons: the shock is horrific: i am the best placed to listen to help Mike as much as 1 can although I am 2x his age and it is early days for him -not even sure if he is on Facebook but any little help would be apprecaites:

Jon Magidsohn
Reply November 18, 2015

Hi Helen. I read the article about you in the Guardian last month and I've kept it marked. I've also been reading through the stories on your website and I feel as though those of us who have lost our spouses have a unique understanding of life not shared by others.

I say this because, as difficult as this is to admit sometimes, we are fortunate despite the pain to have known something that has turned us into better people. We have known a love so vast that the piercing absence of it only allowed it to grow larger here on Planet Grief. And from our loss we have take the time to put words to the feelings, creating a grand and honourable testament.

My memoir, Immortal Highway, has just been released. I just thought I'd refer you to it and hope you consider reading it. It's available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Immortal-Highway-Jon-Magidsohn/dp/1771801425/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1447869445&sr=8-1&keywords=immortal+highway

Thanks for your great work. I look forward to your reply. Best Wishes,

    Planet Grief
    Reply November 19, 2015

    Thanks for your comment Jon. I think I understand what you are saying, but I'm not sure that I can agree with you in the use of the word 'fortunate' in this context. Nor (from my own perspective) can I agree with you that JS's death has turned me into a better person. I do think that there are aspects of life after death from which positives can be gained, but I wouldn't say that JS's death has turned me into a better person - far from it! As I write in the book, I can honestly say that I never took my life with him (or before him) for granted and I have always, ALWAYS, lived life with an 'attitude of gratitude', seeing the best in people and so on. However, since his death I am far more fearful of losing happiness again (Brene Brown calls this 'foreboding joy') and I have seen in a new light some long-standing relationships which pre-death I would have called friendships, but since, I can see were parasitic one-sided relationships.

    Re-reading this, those statements make me sound bitter and I can assure you I'm not, but like a child who finally finds out Santa Claus doesn't travel the world on a sleigh and nip down the chimney with a sack stuffed with presents, since JS's death (and that of my dear friend, Karen in 2003), life has lost some of its sparkle.

    All the best, H

      Jon Magidsohn
      Reply November 19, 2015

      Hi Helen,

      I appreciate your comments and want to assure you that I was in no way assuming our experiences were identical. As Beth Powning writes in 'Shadow Child', "No grief is like any other." I apologise for making too general a comment with the assumption that others will relate to it as I did.

      I'm sorry, too, for using the word 'fortunate' in this context, though, as I said it is something undeniably difficult to admit. So I will stress that in my experience and mine alone I have been able to accept the good things that have happened to me as a consequence of losing my wife. This includes finding love again, getting married and having the kind of exciting life I never would have had otherwise. If I superimpose my new life over my old, I find many things for which I am fortunate.

      Life can easily lose its sparkle, I don't deny that. Like you I have witnessed death up close many, many times, which cannot ever be spun as a positive thing. I'd like to think I continue to have empathy for others like me who have had their lives irrevocably altered by loss. I'm so pleased that you have a forum like this one to provide opportunity for connecting with the rest of our community. Writing - and reading - can heal and provide great clarity when it's most needed.

      I hope we can continue this discussion. Best Wishes,