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100th Post in a 1000 Words-A Story of Love, Life and Grief

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I had plans that my 100th post would be special so I am dedicating it to the life of my fiance Shaun, of 16 years, who was suddenly taken away from me on the 1st January at the age of 35.  Here is our story of love, life and grief.

Early Days

We first met in 1998 whilst Shaun was celebrating his 19th birthday in May and I was out celebrating my 18th Birthday, which was the day before. Our relationship was steady at first but the more I got to know him the more I liked. He was warm, kind, funny, generous and loving.  In 2000, after 2 years we moved into my family home together for 6 months when he was offered a promotion with his job, in Aberdeen, Scotland. He felt like he had to take up the chance and when he first went he loved it and then 3 months later I followed him.

Robert Burns Poem - Grief

Very fitting poem by Robbie Burns used in Shaun’s ‘Celebration of life’ service

It was a difficult move to make, leaving our families behind but we knew that if it didn’t work out we could go back.  In October 2001 I was dealt a cruel blow being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I faced 6 months of intensive chemotherapy. Within 3 months of finishing chemo, I found out that I was pregnant with our daughter Caitlin who, after a difficult pregnancy, was born in March 2003.  Being able to have children was a dream come true for both of us.

Our family was complete in April 2006 when our son Cameron was born but in September of that year, we were dealt another bitter blow.  Shaun had a freak near-fatal motorcycle accident.  He spent 9 weeks in hospital averaging 2 operations a week on his shattered leg.  He spent 4 more years of agonising operations and intensive physiotherapy going from a wheelchair to crutches and eventually a walking stick. Despite the excruciating pain he never moaned or felt sorry for himself.

In 2012 he decided that he was going to start his own Handyman business.  The walking stick went, he built up his confidence and his business, which relied on very little advertising, grew stronger and stronger.  Despite the pain and his diagnosis of arthritis and curvature of the spine in January 2014, life was good, business was good.  We finally planned to get married and consider moving home in 2015, it would be our time.

We had a fantastic Christmas and we celebrated the New Year coming in with our friends as we did every year.  New Years Day celebrations got off to a good start after having our annual family dinner with our friends we settled down to watch a movie when Shaun suddenly collapsed.  I and a friend desperately tried to resuscitate him with the paramedics taking over when they arrived.  Within an hour they announced that they were unable to resuscitate him and he was gone.

Although I was calm, my heart was pounding with shock, I said my goodbyes and had to face the agonising task of telling our children (Aged 11 & 8), who had been taken away by friends when he collapsed, and our families back in England.

Week 1

The first week went by with many questions unanswered Why? How? Have I done something wrong? I had very little sleep, little food yet I had 2 children to look after who are also grieving.  Friends came round in droves to offer condolences, support, wash the dishes, clean and encourage.  This support got me through the day, prevented me from going into hibernation.

Weeks 2 & 3

Weeks 2 & 3 were spent planning his funeral even though at this stage I hadn’t found out the cause. The questions were still unanswered, I felt like I was the one that was being blamed until the dreaded phone call came.  Shaun had died from an undiagnosed genetic heart condition called Cardiomyopathy and there is a 50% chance that your children may also have it!

It felt like I had been repeatedly punched in the face.  Grieving for Shaun and now face the prospect of my children having the same condition.  I was still angry at life at this stage.  Shaun battled the stress of all those operations and nothing ever flagged up!  Trying to think of positives; Did Shaun spare his life to save our children?

Week 4

Week 4 came, the funeral was 4 weeks to the day.  A constant flow of family and friends arrived from across the UK to attend.  I was reunited with Shaun for the first time since and all I remember is walking in/out, comforting the kids and thanking people at the end.  The flow of visitors slowly dispersed to continue with normality although I was thankful that they travelled half way up the country to say their goodbyes.  The funeral is meant to bring closure, does it?

Week 5

Spent the week phoning banks, insurance companies, changing names, cancelling stuff I don’t need and by this time I hadn’t had an income for 5 weeks, living off savings with a funeral to pay for and 2 children to support.  I  just wanted to grieve but knew I had to this.  I sit here, alone at night whilst the kids are asleep, still expecting him to walk through the door,  I can’t accept that he’s gone quite yet.  If someone was to tell me on the morning of New Years Day that in 5 weeks Shaun would be in a plastic container, in the form of ashes, in my cupboard I would have probably laughed.

Future

I take each day as it comes,  some days are better than others. I’m in a vicious circle of feeling guilty for having a laugh, frustrated when I spend hours on the phone trying to speak to a human being and not a computer (for once), utterly heartbroken that he’s gone and won’t see his kids grow up and yet thankful for the memories we shared.  The last 16 years we had a fair share of problems but in the last 2 years we had plenty of family time and those times were precious!

 

Shaun’s choice of funeral song