August 2, 2020

An Ode to My Support Network

To you silent guardians that keep pushing me forwards


Three weeks have passed since you went, Kim. It feels like a brief moment in time, but also like an eternity.

I think that the shock may have started to subside, but I’m puzzled by the relative “calm” that has often found me for hours at a time, during these last few days. I haven’t cried much recently, but I ache for you every waking minute, and I dream of you every night.

I find myself constantly seeking out memories. Unseen photos, unwatched videos. Scouring through our wedding cards, stashed away in the eaves storage upstairs. Your shoes are still where you left them in the hallway. Your work bag, badge, purse; all in their usual spots in the front room.

The bed’s been changed (you’ll be pleased to know), but your pillow has been left untouched. It still smells like you. I’m trying to leave your wardrobe closed, because each time I open it, I think I use up a little more of that “Kim” smell inside. But sometimes I have to open it so I can hug all the clothes hanging inside.

There are still things in the cupboards that you bought for me in that huge food shop the day before it happened. Some lovely beers that I’m terrified to drink because you bought them. Babybels for my mid-day snacking because I am, after all, only 31. Little treats that I discover as time goes on. But these are diminishing.

I’m nervous about driving our car because I seldom drove it without you. I’m sad every time I use our big cast iron pan because it reminds me of Sunday’s spent cooking together. I haven’t been to our favourite bottle shop in a month, because I’m not sure they’re strong enough to drag me outside after I’ve collapsed into a puddle on the floor.

And every time I go into our back garden, I stare at that place where you sat when it happened.

Life is just not right without you here. It is so surreal.

Kim, pondering life in our "den"

Kim, pondering life in our "den"


And yet, somehow, I still move forwards.

I’m still eating. I’m still sleeping. I have clean clothes. I can sit in silent reflection (sometimes for hours), or I can ramble on about my confusion or grief to quiet, but determined recipients. I can demand my own space, and people will leave without question, and I can selfishly demand company straight after, and people come rushing back.

I’m still not able to comprehend this situation I’m in now without you, Kim. But another thing that I cannot comprehend is the overwhelming kindness of those you left me surrounded by.

So I thought I’d dedicate this post to acknowledge those who might often be overlooked in these strange circumstances. Let’s start at the beginning…


To the paramedics, who left the back door of the ambulance open so we could see each other until the point you left for the hospital.

To the doctors and nurses in A&E, who put up with a large bumbling idiot in a busy resus room for hours. For the kind words, for checking in. For bringing me tea. For comforting me.

To the incredibly kind nurses working in the stroke ward. Telling me that “it should be one visitor for one hour a day”, but that, “for you, that doesn’t apply”. For sitting with me by her bed. Telling me such wonderful things; telling me that Kim can absolutely understand what I’m saying when I tell her I love her. For letting me bring her mum in so she could see her too.

To the team that worked so furiously to save Kim that evening when she deteriorated.

To the doctor that awaited our arrival in A&E, for having the strength to look me in the eye and deliver the chilling news that Kim wasn’t going to make it. The admiration I have for what you do is indescribable. Even in the darkest times, you show such fierce compassion.

To the stroke consultant and the staff nurse who insisted on coming in two days later (whilst on leave, might I add) to be there in person to take us through the details of that day. For answering stupid repetitive questions with patience and kindness, as we all tried to make sense of it.

To my family, who supported me even in the midst of their own terrible grief. I do not know where to start.

My sister. For sitting with me at night so I wasn’t alone when trying to fall asleep. For bringing me tea when I woke up. For dragging me to the beach first thing to swim in the still waters (because that’s what you loved to do, Kim). My parents, for providing love and shelter, distance and hugs. Lots of teas, coffees, beers, fruit from the garden. To Kim’s mum, my mother-in-law, for being extraordinarily strong. For being in Brighton for days at a time. For driving down at a moments notice, even though the journey is a little difficult.

My brother-in-law, for silently continuing. For remaining strong for me, and for my sister, when you yourself were so angry. For cooking every meal over the first few days. For being with me when I went to see Kim in the funeral directors the Saturday before the funeral.

To the funeral directors. What a wonderful place, with wonderful people. For working so hard to offer ways to enable Kim’s vast number of loved ones to be part of the day, even in a pandemic. For letting me help dress Kim in her favourite jumpsuit, even though you’d never attempted to dress someone in a jumpsuit before (sidenote: this was exceptionally difficult, we had to have a breather part way through — Kim would have been crying laughing).

To our many, many extraordinary friends. For the multiple round trips from Wales, Liverpool, London and more. For the constant barrage of “checking-in” messages and calls. For the flowers. For the cards. For the care packages. For the dishes of food. You have absolutely no idea how much your short text message means. And you have no idea how much your silent presence comforts me.

To the people who were with us on the day of the funeral, in the woods, virtually, or at Hove beach in the evening. To those of you willing to run over the dagger-like pebbles into unforgiving waves, all in the name of Kim. And to those of you who stayed on the beach to film, because frankly, the footage is hilarious.

And to everyone else, I’ve failed to mention.

Before the carnage

Before the carnage


As the dust continues to settle, one thing seems to become more painfully clear by the day; that there is no textbook to follow for losing a loved one. There is no escaping it, nor is there a “correct way” to approach it.

Some words I spoke at the funeral:

Death is an inevitability, but grief is not. Rather, grief is a debt we accrue when we are fortunate enough to love someone. And the more that we love, the more we owe to grief. And for you, Kim, the infinite vaults of love and of grief have been filled to impossible capacity.

There is no avoiding this. Grief and love are inexplicably bound to one another.

And now with your passing, I find myself facing down the incomprehensible vastness of the debt that lies ahead.

I (and many others) have a profoundly difficult journey ahead. I still don’t know how I’ll begin to face this impossible debt, but one thing that is certain is that I must.

There is simply no way that I would make it through the coming weeks, months and years alone. But there is certainly a comfort to be found when looking around at all those willing to keep propping me up. And this is the reason that I can, and will, move forwards.

For me, Kim’s legacy of love lives on in all of these many unique individuals — her final gift.

So here’s to you, you remarkable friends.

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