Posted 17 May 2019
Gingerbread Fundraising Officer Daniel writes about his experience of growing up in a single parent family, and why he’s taking part in our Virtual Marathon as a tribute to the strength of his parents. On...
Posted 3 October 2017
Thirty year-old Clare lives in The Wirral and became a single mum to her four children when her partner died suddenly last year.
We were just a normal family.
My partner Maz and I both worked, we had three children and at the time of his death I was expecting our fourth.
Around Christmastime he wasn’t feeling right. We just thought it was a bit of flu, because he worked seven days a week, he never had a break and was exhausted. He was just really run-down so we thought it would be nice for him to have some time off.
He died of a rare form of meningitis about a week later.
It’s been a hell of a road.
I’ve never seen myself as needing a man. My partner’s always helped me but I’ve always got on with stuff and dealt with it on my own because it’s the easiest way.
But when Maz died I had to go through everything from organ donation to dealing with his family, and telling my children. I was up and down like a yo-yo.
I found out I was having a boy two days after the funeral. Maz had wanted a boy. I had to go through my scan, and at the same time deal with my oldest daughter, who was diagnosed with PTSD.
You don’t expect your partner to die on you, and it’s hard, especially when you haven’t got anybody to help you.
Maz was self-employed – he had a catering trailer. I worked as well, only part-time, but I’ve always worked. I was on maternity leave when Maz died and the plan was that I was going to be a housewife for a couple of years until the children were old enough and then I was going to go back to work myself.
And when he passed away, I had the shock of my life. I only got a little bit of help toward funeral costs. His funeral was £2,500 and I got £1,100 help and was left with the rest.
I went on income support, and I do want to go back to work some day. I wanted to go to college and do a manager’s degree, because I thought while my children were young I could do that.
You can make things work though. I still make sure my kids are well fed and that they’re clothed. Every week if I’ve got any change in my purse I chuck it in a pot, and every two months I’ve saved about £60.
Dealing with loneliness
Once the kids are in bed I’ve got to clean my house. I sit here and turn the light on and think I’ve got no one to talk to and nothing to do but clean and that’s it.
I still crave that love and affection that Maz used to give me. We had been together for 14 years. Even nights when we wouldn’t even talk much, if he was in one room and I was in another because I was sorting out the babies and things like that, at least I knew he was there and I had that comfort.
Every day is different
When someone dies suddenly everyone deals with it differently. Some people have an absolute breakdown, other people go numb. You’ve just got to take every day as it comes. And you’re going to have bad days and you’re going to have good days. It just takes time to heal.
Don’t push people away. When a partner passes away things happen and sometimes you start rejecting people. You know, people are there to help you. If they offer to help you with your children, take it. Even if it’s someone to talk to, you’ve got charities and people who you can talk to, but keep your friends close and let them help you too.
It’s 15 months down the road and I still feel that pain and I still have those memories in my head of what happened to Maz. But you just have to go to bed, get up in the morning and see what the day brings. Because every day is different.
In time, things will get better. You learn to live without the person, but you still love them.
Are you currently dealing with bereavement? For detailed step-by-step advice read our guide to bereavement.