A widow is urging people to “always kiss your loved ones goodnight” after she woke to find her husband had suddenly died in the night on the sofa – where she had banished him after a row.
When dad-of-three Mikey Murrell, 36, rolled in from yet another 16-hour shift at work on May 16 2017, his wife Ashley Murrell rowed with him worried that he was running himself into the ground.
The couple, who met in 2007 and got married in 2010, didn’t resolve the argument before bedtime and Ashley angrily told Mikey to spend the night on the sofa.
But when beauty therapist Ashley work up the next morning, she found her loving husband’s body lying cold and discoloured “exactly where she left him”.
Devastated Ashley broke down at the sight of Mikey’s body and couldn’t stop screaming “he’s dead” before running into the street and blacking out from the grief.
Ashley learnt later that day that “funny and caring” Mikey, who worked as a carpet cleaner, had actually been putting in all the extra hours to save up to take her to Prague for their anniversary on 3 July .
Losing her “king” made Ashley realise that life’s too short not to cherish every moment with your loved ones and is urging couples not to go to sleep on an argument.
Ashley from Wellington, Somerset, said: “Mikey was so caring, if he walked into a room and saw someone unhappy he would be the first person there trying to cheer them up.
“He absolutely loved his family. He wanted his kids to have all the things in life that he didn’t and he worked so hard to make that happen.
“He would work 16-hour shifts, seven days a week just so he could save up enough to take us all to Disney every year. He was so worn out but he would do anything just to see us smile.
“But the hours he was working were just getting too much. He was so exhausted all the time and he was running himself into the ground and his health was going downhill fast.
“When he came home that night he was a mess, I have never seen him so exhausted. I couldn’t stand seeing him like that and I got angry. I was sick of it.
“I had a go at him and told him to sleep on the sofa which was stupid because I really just wanted him around more.
“When I came out of the bedroom and saw him the next morning I knew something was wrong straight away. He was lying exactly where I left him and his face was all discoloured – he looked grey.
“I walked over and touched him but he was cold and I jumped back and ran out the room. I started screaming ‘your dad’s dead’ to my 14-year-old and ran into the street screaming ‘Mikey’s dead’.
“I blacked out and had to be carried back into the house by neighbours. It felt so surreal, I couldn’t process it. I didn’t feel like he was dead, I felt like he had left me.”
When the ambulance came and confirmed Mikey was dead, Ashley collapsed onto the floor and I was sick.
“Nothing made sense. I felt so guilty. I was so angry with myself for making him sleep on the sofa. I still find it so hard to think that my last words to him were out of anger,” she said.
“When I found out he’d been saving to take us on an anniversary holiday it was awful - heartbreaking doesn’t begin to cover it.
“Losing Mikey has changed my entire perspective on life. Life is too short to go to bed angry and not to spend every moment you can with your family.”
Lovebirds Ashley and Mikey met in 2007 through mutual friends but realised their feelings for each other a year later on a night out – and moved in together a week later.
After they got married Mikey adopted Ashley’s daughter Morgan Murrell, 14, and the couple had twins, Mikey Murrell and Lisa Murrell, in 2013.
Ashley said doting dad Mikey went above and beyond, working long hours to make sure his kids had everything he didn’t in life.
But after injuring his back while lifting weights and discovering he was suffering from spinal arthritis in 2014, Mikey’s dedication to his work started to take its toll.
Ashley claims a post-mortem revealed Mikey choked in his sleep but that the cause behind it was “inconclusive”.
Explaining why their dad isn’t coming home to her kids has been one of the hardest parts for Ashley, whose little boy often asks if they can “visit daddy in heaven”.
Ashley said: “Mikey and I had a lot of mutual friends so we met through them and we were inseparable right away.
“He had this dark sense of humour that nobody really understood apart from me.
“But a year into us being friends we were out and he came up to me and started kissing me at the bar and it all just clicked. It all happened really quickly after that.
“I had never felt the way I did about Mikey with anyone else. I will always love him.
“He was such a good dad right from the start with our eldest and he was brilliant when the twins came along, doing night feeds and nappy changes and still working ridiculous hours.
“After his injury, Mikey never properly healed and it took its toll. But even when he was at his worst he would push himself with work and any time he had off he’d be doing everything with the kids.
“I knew something like this was going to happen, I knew he was doing too much but you can never prepare yourself for this.
“Explaining it to the kids has been one of the hardest parts. I didn’t at first but they kept asking when daddy was coming home. Now my little boy always asks if we can visit daddy in heaven - it’s really hard.
“Some days are easier than others and I think I’m doing okay but then a day comes along where every little thing is a reminder.
“The other day I was driving along and the kids were singing in the back and it was all so happy but then I just started having flashbacks about finding him. It’s going to be like that for a while.
“It’s going to be tough doing all the firsts without him. I already had our first anniversary alone. All I know is that my feelings for him will never go away. He was too amazing to even describe him in words.”
Mikey was laid to rest on 8 June and Ashley believes letting their kids come to the funeral helped them fully understand that their dad had passed away.
Blue and white floral tributes of the words ‘daddy’, ‘son’ and ‘bro’ were placed near his grave along with a purple heart-shaped wreath with a blue ribbon that said ‘Pooh’ – Ashley’s pet name for Mikey.
In a touching eulogy, Ashley said: “Go kiss your loved ones and tell them you care. Let them know you love them as they may not always be there.
“Say goodnight at bedtime and always kiss goodbye because one day, you never know, they may grow wings and fly.
“Live everyday as if it’s your last and let go of bad things in the past. Our lives are too short and they go fast.
“If I could say something it would be this, life is hard but loving you was bliss. It’s not been easy but my heart is yours, it will always be.
“The words ‘I love you’ are not enough. I am not grown up enough for this stuff but I will be your rock until the day I die then I will fly with you up in the sky.
“Thank you for everything my lover, my dear. I will try not to live my life in fear. I will see you again, I will smell your skin. I will be your queen and you my king.”