Katie's Story

January 2024

Recently WAY member Katie spoke to the editor of her internal newsletter at Control Techniques – the company where she works in Mid Wales – explaining how WAY has helped her to navigate life after her fiance’s death. Here’s her story…

Selfie of Mum and Dad with two sons behind them

At 10:30pm on Thursday, 7 November 2019, I answered the door to two police officers, and my world was turned upside down. What followed is blurry, but I clearly recall the utter shock at hearing the word ‘killed’ when they were referring to my fiancé John. Our two young sons aged 3 and 6 were upstairs sleeping, and I thought about the moment they would wake the next morning and I would have to tell them the worst news a child can hear.

John had been killed in a road traffic collision on his way home from work earlier that evening, whilst working away in Oxfordshire. He was 32.

Although family rallied around, bringing us supplies, and supporting me and the boys, as life begins to return to ‘normality’ for everyone else, as a widowed person you are left to comprehend the massive loss of your life partner, but also the many secondary losses that people don’t consider.

A bereavement of this kind is so huge that it is physical. Your mind becomes foggy and functions differently. You are faced with a seemingly endless list of ‘sadmin’ (closing bank accounts, contacting utilities companies, transferring subscriptions, organising insurances, dealing with debtors) – all whilst communicating with staff who are under-trained to deal with the situation of the death of a 32-year-old.

A few months after John died, I knew it was time to reach out to someone that could help.

"I didn’t know what I was looking for, but googling ‘Widowed and Young’ for the first time was a heart wrenching moment of realisation of what I was now facing."

Joining the peer support network WAY Widowed and Young enabled me to access a community like no other. People from all different walks of life, who had lost their partners, and just ‘got it’. Unbeknownst to me, the first lockdown was on the horizon, and the online community of WAY and especially the closed members’ Facebook group, became a valuable source of advice and conversation.

The members of WAY range from those who have recently lost their partner, to those who may be many years down the line. This gives a breadth of experience, guidance and inspiration.

I made the decision to start a full-time degree at Aberystwyth University, and being financially dependent on student finance and universal credit, money was tight. I decided I wouldn’t be able to afford to renew my WAY membership, but when I saw the Memorial Fund mentioned in the group, I decided to apply. 

Quickly my application was accepted; a wave of relief washed over me as I realised I wouldn’t have to let go of that important segment of support. I was so grateful to WAY and all of those who had kindly donated to the Memorial Fund. To give back, I ran the Cardiff Half Marathon in 2022 and raised nearly £1,000 for WAY, which I equated to 40 membership payments for those who need them. Especially with the cost of living being so high, plus the huge financial hardship and uncertainty widowhood can bring, the Memorial Fund is a valuable and important asset of WAY. 

On 7 November 2023, it was four years since the evening when the police officers knocked on my door, yet I’m still a proud member of WAY.

Just recently I posted to the group that I had completed my degree and was about to embark on my dream career in Marketing at the company Control Techniques in Wales! The congratulations I received were truly heart-warming...

"It was my turn to show members at the earlier stages of their journey that the grief from losing your partner never becomes smaller, but that your life can grow around it."

Find more information about WAY’s Memorial Fund and how it can offer support with membership fees and attending events.

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Joining WAY

When you join WAY you’ll have access to a community of other widowed people who understand what you are going through. You can access events organised across the UK, a telephone support line offering counselling, legal and financial support, a subscription to our members magazine and helpful resources to help you understand your loss.

We are sorry you or a loved one needs to be here, but we all understand how difficult these times can be and we’re here for when you are ready.

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