Healing through helping others: Matt’s story

April 2024

WAY member Matt talks about how he wanted to help other people who’d been widowed at a young age by organising events in his local area - from curry nights to car maintenance…

My name is Matt. I was widowed at 50 when my wife, Cher, died in a road traffic accident at the age of 42. Our two sons are now 13 and 20 years old.

Sudden death is hard - there are no goodbyes, there’s no time to plan anything. I spent the first couple of weeks in a daze then picked up a book the police had given me and the WAY details were inside. 

I joined WAY early on - within two weeks of my wife’s death. I was surprised to see how very active the WAY group was in my area (Northants, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire), although there weren’t many men who were actively involved. 

I started to go to a few events and also had grief counselling once a week for around a year. I soon started to create my own WAY events. I had a strong urge to help people like me and decided to become a WAY volunteer to bring me closer to my wife. She was always ready to help others and worked for the ambulance service, even moving Covid-19 positive patients around throughout the pandemic. 

I’ve been a mechanic then a manager for a Scania truck dealership for over 30 years and ended up changing a spare wheel and getting a tyre for a lady in the WAY group, as she didn’t know how to do it herself. It got me thinking that such a simple thing could maybe help others and stop them being stranded at the side of the road.  

So I ended up running a course on how to change a spare wheel, including which bits of the car do what; where to put oil and antifreeze; how the braking system works and what the numbers are for on the sides of tyres. I also included fun facts and things like that to give people the confidence to do it themselves, without any pressure. Some members even brought their teenagers along to learn too.

“I’m glad I went along to Matt’s event. I got good tips and feel more confident about changing a tyre.” Lalita, WAY member

I have since created another event with possibly a third planned for September. The response has been overwhelming. It’s something a bit different from the curry and cocktail nights I usually plan! 

Whilst grief is never easy, being in the local WAY group and meeting new people has kept me going these past few months and I plan to run a lot more events in the future.