Alan’s last update was written in 2016, following Ann’s death in late 2015. Three years on he felt the time was right to add another chapter to his story.
“Ann was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer in June 2013 and died in October 2015. I never gave one thought about life after Ann’s death. She had been part of my life since 1964, nearly 50 years, and I could not think about living without her.
“Looking back I realise that when Ann died everything felt unreal, and that I was on the outside looking in. The formal arrangements for Ann’s funeral and related details were, with help from my son and daughter, completed quite quickly.
“I had agreed with Ann that I would give the eulogy and in the two weeks to the funeral there was a lot to think about and prepare. Fortunately, on the day, I was able to give the eulogy. In the days, weeks and months that followed I faced the challenge of living a new life but, to do so, I first had to find that life.
“In Part 2 of my story I highlighted how Severn Hospice, in Telford, had encouraged and eventually persuaded me to attend therapy sessions, and these sessions had started before Ann died.
“Although I had been reluctant to attend those sessions, it soon became clear to me that therapy would be helpful in finding my new life. With hindsight it probably helped that the therapy sessions started some weeks before Ann died.
“I realised that therapy sessions would only be helpful if I was honest and open in sharing my thoughts and emotions. Although initially reticent about that openness it became obvious that the sessions were helping me cope with the reality of my life.
“After some months the hospice reluctantly highlighted that since their therapy resources were limited and, if I wanted therapy to continue, I needed to find a new therapist.
“Fortunately I found a new therapist, and three years later I am still seeing her twice a month. I still have matters to resolve, but therapy has been crucial in helping me to make the progress that I have made.
“While my new life reflects the obvious changes, it also includes a range of new things, but most importantly it positively embraces the legacy of my life with Ann.
“At any time a sudden thought, a piece of music or a conversation will trigger an unexpected memory or emotion and I instantly have to try and find a way to cope, and this is becoming easier as time passes, but I never know when or where there will be another instance.
“After the loss of a partner each individual has to build a new life. Since there is no fixed solution to the challenge we all face, the way forward will be our own, but we will need help to finding the answer.
“I have also benefited and enjoyed wonderful support from family and friends in building my new life. This support, together with the therapy, has helped me find a way of bringing together the positive opportunities of our lives today, while enjoying our memories of yesterday.
“Ann was extremely fortunate to receive the support and care that Severn Hospice was able to give her in the last year of her life.
“I know that she could not have been in a better place when her life ended peacefully, and for that I will always be grateful.
“The ‘Lights of Love’ service, organised by Severn Hospice at the beginning of December, is truly moving and the sharing of memories with so many others is an emotional and a wonderfully encouraging experience.
“When I can I give financial support to the Telford Severn Hospice and believe that the growing Hospice at Home service is a wonderful way of extending the support that can be given to individuals and their families which are not otherwise available, and is one that we should all support.
“On the anniversary of Ann’s death I go to the hospice and find one of the benches that the family donated in Ann’s memory. I sit and read through a copy of my story and the eulogy I gave and I think about our 50 years together. Then I visit the churchyard in Shifnal where there is a plaque. It says:
In loving memory
1945 – 2015