Thursday of last week, my wife died, peacefully in her sleep at home. She had a number of problems, mostly to do with her mobility, and was unable to do much for herself, so I have been caring for her about 4 years.
On Thursday, I went to her as usual about 8.00 am with tea, toast and her medication and generally took care of her needs, the commode and so on. She had been poorly the previous few days with a tummy upset, hadn’t been eating very much and felt very weak. She still wasn’t inclined to get up. After an hour or so, I left her to have my own breakfast, wash, dress and so on. About 11.00 am she called upon me to help her with the commode and I got her settled again. She said she was very tired.
I popped into the bedroom at midday and she was fast asleep, breathing very easily. I looked again at 1.00 pm with a view to seeing what she would like for lunch, but she was still asleep, breathing as before. She has told me in the past that I should not disturb her if she was asleep as then she was in no pain. So I had my lunch and then had to make a telephone call to a call centre, which took 30 minutes. I went back upstairs with the idea that I could sit in the corner and read, so that I would be there when she awoke and she wouldn’t panic. After a few minutes, I realised that I could no longer hear her breathing and stepped closer. She had died. She was in the same position as before and looked very peaceful. Not knowing what to do and and unable to think clearly, I rang our local GP and was told to ring 999 and ask for an ambulance. This I did and was told by the lady who responded to try and get my wife on to the floor and apply CPR. She talked me though this staying on the line counting with me to make sure I continued. The paramedic arrived within 15 minutes and advised me to stop, as she was clearly dead.
He was with me for about three hours and allowed me to telephone relatives and close friends, who arrived within a short time. As it was a sudden death at home and my wife had not been seen by her doctor in the previous two weeks he told me her death would have to be referred to the Coroner, with the possibility of a post mortem. He was sympathetic, kind and very professional. Before he left, a police woman arrived and was with me for a couple of hours, She examined my wife, who was still on the bedroom floor and took a statement from me about what had happened that day and my wife’s medical history. Again, she was kind and caring. She repeated what the paramedic had said about the possibility of a post mortem but told me it seemed to vary with the jurisdiction and individual coroners. Shortly after she left, two gentlemen arrived to take my wife to the mortuary at the local hospital, where my lady was kept for a few days. During this time, my wife’s doctor informed the coroner that her health had been deteriorating during the past few years and as she was over eighty, it was decided no post mortem would be necessary. The cause of death on the certificate is “Old age”. My lady is now in the funeral director’s Chapel of Rest and I went to see her today. She looked peaceful and relaxed. But she felt so cold.
During the past few days, I have been very busy, dealing with paper work, making telephone calls, responding to the enquiries of relatives and friends, considering arrangements for the funeral. This will not take place until early in the New Year. In the meantime I have reached a little hiatus. I am not ready to start dealing with my wife’s clothes, personal possessions and so on. I don’t even want to tidy her bedroom. Things are staying as they are for the time being.
We were married for fifty years. I loved her with all of my heart and she was my best friend. The last few years I have devoted to looking after her as best I could, with little time to do anything else. Maybe once the funeral is over, things will get better, but at the moment I feel very lonely and the future seems bleak. I am lucky to have the support of close family and longstanding friends and they have been wonderful. But, when I read some of the tributes I have been receiving during the past few days from those who knew her well, I find myself weeping. They all loved her. I want to say something at the funeral, a eulogy I suppose, but I am not sure that I shall be able to do it without embarrassing everybody if I lose control. Something to think about.
It has helped me to write all this down and if you have stayed with me - thank you. Other sections of this Forum have proved so useful, with practical tips and advice and I have been very grateful for the help I have received from this wonderful community. I did not think I should be posting in this section so soon.