My lady has died

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.

I am very sorry to hear of the death of your wife.
I too lost mine 6 months ago of 60 years happy marriage.
I would not worry about your wife’s clothes etc. I haven’t sorted
my wife’s out yet either after 6 months and don’t intend to yet.

I too said a little at her cremation but had an understanding
with the person taking the service that she would read what I was
to say if I faltered. In any case those at the service will most
certainly sympathise with you if you did falter so don’t worry about that.

Alan, I found my husband dead in bed, later the post mortem showed that he’d had a massive heart attack. He was only 58.

For the next few days, concentrate only on getting the funeral etc. sorted out.
There will be time enough after the funeral to deal with clothes etc.
I didn’t say anything at my OH’s funeral, although I’ve done lots of public speaking, because I knew the service itself would be hard enough.
There were over 200 mourners and everyone was as shocked as we were at his untimely death, and they knew how much we loved each other.

Do whatever feels right, but expect after the service to fall over what I call a Cliff of Tiredness. It’s OK to feel utterly and completely exhausted for the first few weeks, but please make sure you eat well, your body needs food to help you recuperate.

In many ways, your wife was really lucky, to be snuggled down in her own bed, with you caring for her; not in a hospital bed with strangers caring for her. In time, this will be a great comfort to you.

Remember this is a forum for former, as well as current carers. If there is anything you are not sure of, come back whenever you like.

Alan I am so sorry to hear of your dear wife’s passing - my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this difficult and sad time.

She is no longer in pain or discomfort - To depart peacefully at home in one’s sleep is how we would all wish to go on our final journey and that will bring you comfort in the days to come. Time doesn’t heal our grief but it eventually does make it easier to bear.

“Little by little we let go of loss, but never of love”

Am so sad to read the loss of your wife. My thoughts are with you.
I lost my husband in May. We had been married for 51 years. He was in hospital, but I take comfort that his passing was very peaceful, as I know it’s not always that way. I hope eventually you will find comfort in that too.
Things like tidying the room etc will fall into place when you feel ready. Each person is different, and there is no right or wrong.
Please keep posting. It helps to share how you are feeling, and the mixed emotions that wash over you.

Alan, it sounds like your wife had the sort of passing we all hope for one day.

I’m glad you have family and friends around you to support you.

It’s very early days. Gradually, in time you will find things to do to fill your time and hopefully even enjoy. Your wife wouldn’t want you to be miserable.

Why don’t you write the eulogy and if, on the day it’s too much for you to read, I’m sure the celebrant or someone attend the funeral would read it on your behalf.

Take care Alan, keep posting if it helps.


Dear Alan,
My sincere sympathies on your loss. As others have said, it was a passing that we would all aspire to. In our own bed, sleeping peacefully, with a loved one having been with us a short time ago and not far away.
No hospitals, no drips or fussing, no pain, no noise or weeping, just peace and drifting away. Be proud and glad that your care for your lady enabled this kind passing.
If you google ‘funeral poems’, you will find some beautiful words, like the ones below. and you might find one which expresses your feelings. You could read a few words on your own behalf if you felt up to it and perhaps ask a family member or friend to read an appropriate poem. At my Mum’s funeral I read out something I had prepared, then a poem I’d written myself. My grandson helped me read the last verse.

Gone From My Sight by Henry Van Dyke

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says, “There, she is gone.”

Gone where?

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me – not in her.

And, just at the moment when someone says, “There, she is gone,”
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!”

And that is dying…

I read the whole story.
Go gently. May she rest in peace. I’m sure she is close with you.

I am very sorry for your loss. I think as others have said that in time you will come to see that your wife had a peaceful death, tucked up in her own bed, in her own home.
You will indeed feel a real tiredness in the weeks to come as there is so much to focus on and get done in the immediate aftermath. I could only face going through my Dad’s clothes s few weeks ago. I had to in the end as I needed to sell his house and sort through a lot of his things. I wanted to speak at his funeral, but knew I would be too upset. We had a wonderful celebrant who took the service and she spoke instead and said all that we as a family wanted to say. No-one would bat an eye lid if you weren’t up to saying anything yourself on the day. Take care of yourself.

Hello Alan

Sending heart felt condolences!

Wishing you as peaceful a Christmas Day if possible. Draw on your many memories of happy times.

Thanks to all of you for your support, advice and kindness.

I am making progress and practical matters have more or less now been organised. My wife’s Priest has suggested I say a few words, but if I find that a problem, he will help out. He has stressed that we shall all be friends together, grieving the loss of a lady we loved and folks will understand if I get upset.

So - lots of help, one way or another, for which I have been grateful.

An odd thing has been happening during the past week or so. My wife and I used a wireless door bell so she could let me know when she needed help of some kind. I have been hearing this in my sleep, so convincingly that I have got out of bed and been on my way to her bedroom before I realised it was a false alarm. That problem, thankfully, is diminishing.

Although I received three invitations to join friends for their Christmas, I declined with thanks. Some friends even offered to plate up a meal and bring it round - such kindness! Some time on my own for reflection seemed better suited to my mood and that proved to be the case.

Going through packets of photos to select some for the Order of Service, I also found a large envelope stuffed with the counterfoils to tickets for concerts, shows and so on we had attended, right from out first date. Even bus tickets. I had no idea my lady had been secreting these away, but going through them reminded me of so many past occasions when we were having such good times together. The last, few difficult years pale by comparison, and that thought made me feel a lot better.

I am making a list of things to do, now the immediate concerns have been dealt with, but I shall take the advice you have offered and not pressure myself to do things in a hurry. A little bit every day, perhaps.

it sounds like you are finding your way. It’s good that you have kind people around you, even though you aren’t ready to be socialising just yet. Reminiscing as you looked through the photos and remnants sounded lovely - a great way to put the last few more difficult years into context of all the good times you shared.


Alan, Sincere condolences to you. Rosemary

My thanks to Melly1 and Rosemary for your kind thoughts.

My wife’s funeral took place yesterday and I am pleased to say that all went very smoothly - I even managed my Eulogy without losing control. It seemed to me that my lady was with me and wishing me well.

We had flowers just on the coffin. During my Eulogy I mentioned CarersUK and told them of all the practical help, advice and moral support I had received from the kindly folks on this forum. I suggested that if they wanted to mark my lady’s passing with a donation to CarersUK, anything they gave would be put to good use. And they gave very generously. I have just paid the money over on line. Others, I know, will donate on line themselves.

Now the funeral is done, I must start dealing with other concerns, but I shall follow the excellent advice offered here, take things slowly and do the things I need to organise gradually.

Somehow, now the future doesn’t look as bleak as it did initially. I have been given a lot of comfort during the past week or so and especially yesterday by the kind comments from friends and family. I didn’t know how much my wife was loved - I can understand it, but I didn’t know it until now. I was a very lucky man to share in her life. I had the great good fortune to enjoy the unconditional love of a lady who accepted without reservation my love for her.

Thanks to all of you for your support.

Alan, I’m glad it went well for you yesterday.
I think the next few weeks are a bit like treading water, there is no hurry, take you time to reflect and think about what you want to do in the future, when you are ready.

Dear Alan
It was so lovely to read your update. Thankyou for letting us know how you’re doing. Remember that the writing can continue if it helps.
Bless you, all the best.
ps. that was a very sweet thing to do, the donation.

So pleased all went well, and you braved the eulogy. Take care of yourself now. One day at a time for a while.

Alan, on behalf of Carers UK, we’re very sorry to hear of your recent loss. Your story and perspective on life is so touching and I’m so glad for you that the eulogy went well. It was very sweet of you to mention Carers UK and we are truly grateful for the generosity. With your donation, we can help be there for more carers as we were there for you. It sound like you have a good support which is heartening to hear. Do take each day as it comes as you have been doing. And of course, our forum is here for you.

My wife, for whom I had been caring for about four years, died in December 2019. And I have been thinking recently about the way I have been feeling since then and realised that I have gone through several stages. These may be common to many who have been bereaved after a long and happy relationship or perhaps they are unique to me - I don’t know. But I thought that it may help one or two of you who have suffered a similar loss recently to understand that things are likely to get better. They have for me, anyway.

At first, there was the shock of her death. Her illness meant she was likely to die before me but I clung to the possibility that my lady may get better. It was a hope that helped to keep us both going and looking forward to our future together. Practical matters kept me focussed for the first few weeks, after which I started to become accustomed to the radical change in my routine - I wasn’t needed in the same way. Those of you who are or have been carers will know what I mean. My life seemed empty.

So I started to deal with her possessions, clothes and so on. Very slowly, as I found it quite emotional. Her favourite perfume, which seemed to cling to everything, was a potent reminder that she was no longer there. After six months or so, this was largely achieved, much of her wardrobe going to close friends who loved to be reminded of her. I set myself the target of redecorating and re-carpeting her bedroom before the first anniversary of her death. It had suffered somewhat during her illness, but it wasn’t possible to get anything done then as she spent so much time there. Anyway, that was done.

I was pleased with this progress although after about six months I had started to feel, sometimes, angry - “Why have you left me?” Totally irrational but very real. That lasted a few weeks - I simply couldn’t get rid of this feeling. Close friends helped me a lot and eventually, it passed.

Much of what I planned and needed to do was achieved before the end of last year and things have changed again. I feel lonely sometimes, but I think that is natural, especially as I am unable to see friends personally because of the pandemic. We keep in touch with telephone calls, emails, letters, FaceTime and so on, but it isn’t the same! It is only during the past few weeks that I have come to realise that I have fully accepted that my lady has died and that I will no longer be able to listen to her conversation, hear her laughter, hold her hand, hug her, make plans for the future, discuss holidays, the garden - all the things which were part of our everyday life together for over fifty years. So I think I have reached a sort of plateau where I shall be able to look forward to the future and make plans for myself as an individual. I don’t think my lady would mind.

My thanks and best wishes to all who are part of this forum.

Hi Alan,
It’s nearly 15 years since I found my husband dead in bed, at the age of 58, from a massive heart attack. I have a new life now, but still miss my old life. I like to feel my husband would be proud of me for managing.
I read a book called “Starting Again” by Sarah Litvinoff, primarily aimed at divorcees, but so much applies to those whose partner has died.