My name is Steve Bland and I am a dad of one from Cheshire. And I’m a widower. In September 2018, my wife Rachael died from triple negative breast cancer.
But she didn’t go without a fight.
Rachael, along with the amazing Lauren Mahon and Deborah James, did so much to change the conversation around cancer and death with their podcast You, Me and the Big C. Since her death, I have joined the girls on the podcast to make sure those conversations continue.
However you feel, that’s ok.
The reality of how you feel after someone close to you dies is so far removed from how you imagine it might feel. I didn’t imagine for a second that anything would make me smile or laugh in the days after Rachael died, and when it did, I felt guilty. But I soon realised that however you feel, just go with it. If you want to laugh, laugh. If you feel like a good cry, go with that.
It’s best to let people in.
I really didn’t feel like speaking to anyone after Rachael died. Even close friends were getting the cold shoulder. But then some of my closest friends took it out of my hands. They just turned up at my house and pretty much forced me to let them in. It was the best thing they could have done. They didn’t always say the ‘right’ thing but they were there for me. On that note, cut people a bit of slack if they do say the wrong thing!
Be honest with kids.
All of a sudden I am now a single dad of a wonderful three year old boy who has a lot of questions. He doesn’t understand the finality of what has happened but he knows that his mummy isn’t around any more. So what do you do? Well, I think the only way forward it to be as honest as possible. Trying to sugar coat anything is only going to lead to problems down the line.
Don’t rush to find your new normal.
I was so desperate to be ok, and to prove to everyone that I was going to be ok, that I think I might have been guilty of trying to get to whatever normal was going to be too quickly. Take your time. No one is going to rush you so do everything at your own pace. If you don’t fancy going out, or feel like every once in a while you need a day under the duvet, go with it.
Don’t be afraid to have difficult conversations.
Before Rachael died, we had a lot of difficult conversations but by talking about things like what my financial situation might be like or how I should dress Freddie without her guiding hand, she was able to get so much comfort. And not only that, by dealing with stuff like her will, or her funeral plans, it took away the pressure of working through these tricky decisions on my own. I know these are horrible things to talk about, but the earlier and the more willingly we have these conversations, the easier it all is.