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A Widower With Dahlias

July 20, 2014

Having been snared in the social care world for years, I thought I knew about the crap of endless form filling. But in the last seven weeks I’ve encountered a new level – the form filling associated with death. Ironically, Julie loved a form and would have been in her element now. For me, “chore” doesn’t even come close.

I’ve gained a new status. Every form wants to know your status and the correct box for me now is “widower”. I don’t think I’ve had an image of a widower before so this status feels a bit unreal. I get a vague idea that perhaps I should buy more cardigans. Perhaps I should get an allotment. I don’t know how to be a widower.

I guess widowers are allowed to feel sudden waves of deep sadness. On Wednesday I found myself standing inside our family home waiting whilst the estate agent took photos. The house was completely empty. Except for the ghosts. In every room. In every scuff mark. In every scrap of blue TAC.

My niece, who has done most of the clearing, finds one last thing left behind in the loft. I see it and choke down a big sob. It is Julie’s French vocabulary book. We were in the same a level French class in 1975 – 1977. The book, probably written in the 1940s was (is) a delight. I used to drive Mr Hart, our French teacher insane, because there were some phrases in that book that I found so wonderful, I’d weave them into every essay.

So, I stand in our empty living room and thumb through to the gardening chapter. And of course, it is still there.

” That bed of dahlias was an orgy of colour last week”.

I love the “last week” bit.

I put the book in the recycling bag and left the house for the last time.


From → Social Care

  1. Weary Mother permalink


    My heart goes out to you; you, lovely, compassionate, supremely caring man. When I was overwhelmed and lost; when the repeated doing and being and feeling seemed just too much to bear… mum used to say quietly, ”this too will pass”. It did not help me a bit at the time.

    ,….but I remember now …..all the love and pain for me in her voice, when she said it. And it helps me. Bless you.

  2. Oh Mark, I so relate to this post. With each form I filled in it felt like another piece of Bob was disappearing. Watching the corner of his passport being snipped and his driving licence too was agonising. He was now a none person in every possible sense. I blubbed like a baby the first time I had to write widow. Just over one year on i think I’m learning how to be a widow but just like being a mother of a disabled child/adult I’m refusing to let other peoples labels define me and having been an avid reader of your blog I know you will too. With best wishes – Gail

  3. marie permalink

    I’m clearing dad’s house now and similar things keep hitting me. Well done on getting to this stage.

  4. Shirley Buckley permalink

    And Sharon Shoesmith gets £680000

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