Dating after being a young widow
"I enjoy life but it would be dishonest to say my life is happy. I'm too strong to keel over - Geoff would be horrified if I did."Karen Doody, 35, was widowed in June 2002, when her husband, James, died of cancer.While he was ill, they had moved back to Derbyshire, from Guildford, to be close to their families.Karen still lives in Derbyshire, where she works as a hairdresser and a doctor's receptionist. Years ago, my Dad said to me, 'People don't want to see you miserable'.Being with positive people helps me to be positive. It was the lead up to Christmas and I had this awful feeling of nothing to look forward to. I feel God only puts in front of you what he knows you can cope with."I got back to work very quickly."I had lots of visitors at first; some nights the phone wouldn't stop ringing. It was my Mum - she'd been widowed only a few years before - who got me through."There's an assumption that, because you're young, you'll get over it. I wanted normality and I wanted to talk about James.Older widows say, "We had forty years together, that's a lot to get over". It's helpful - otherwise, as time goes on, I sometimes find myself wondering if he really existed."Those milestones - Ross's first nativity play, Anya's first birthday (in July 2003) - he should have been here to share with me.
A teacher, she lives in Whitstable, Kent."In those early months after Geoff's death, I was only half a beat away from losing the plot."They think having only four years makes it easier, and they assume you'll meet someone else. I feel angry, because I was really happy, we were talking about having children. "I'm involved in the church, I've started going to football matches and I'm learning to use the computer. It was our car and I suddenly went into a low period."I never turn down invitations - even though I don't always look forward to them - because it's better than sitting at home. I got through it by reminding myself what I'd still got - friends, a new job, a new house."I now know, because I went to counselling, it was a case of riding it out. Our society doesn't deal with it well, especially when it doesn't come at the 'right' time. "Last summer I booked a holiday to Lefkas with my daughters (Rachel, 18, and Katie, 16), knowing it could be diabolical without Geoff but also knowing that, if I didn't, I'd never have the confidence to lead the rest of my life on my own. It was the right thing to do - then I hit autumn and the anniversaries of the final stages of his illness, which set me back again. Rachel had counselling at school and is conscious of her role as the other adult in the home, whereas Katie has found it more difficult to talk about her grief."Because you're young, people expect you to get over it quickly. But it is a major, major life change."The sad thing is, you learn who your friends are. When one of life's certainties is pulled from under you by your husband dying young, you question everything else. We were surrounded by 'nuclear' families; I could feel them thinking: 'Ooh, single parent'. "We don't have the normal mother/daughter shouting matches.