It's that time of year again. The shops are awash with red, the streets suddenly lined with hearts and flowers and teddy bears. Love is in the air. Love is on air. Love is everywhere. Valentine's Day is looming and there is no avoiding it.
What's the worst word in the English language? It's not what you think. It's not four letters, but nine - "malignant". One month shy of her 36th birthday, my wife Carolina handed me the results of her biopsy, which indicated advanced breast cancer. I felt like the earth was swallowing me up. It was October 11, 2011.
It occurred to me the other day that I don't really see myself as a 'widower' anymore. Nothing about losing my wife feels any different, but it's only really when I have to fill in the marital status section of some sort of form that I think, Oh shit! That's me!
I opened the box of Christmas decorations as carefully and as nervously as an archaeologist might approach a long lost haul of Anglo-Saxon treasure. This, to me, was much more precious; a collection not of gold but memories, a time capsule of the way things used to be, before.
It is over three and a half years since my husband, Dunc, aged 39, went to play football and never came home. He collapsed on the pitch and died a short time later. At 5:40pm, Dunc had kissed us all goodbye and told us that he loved us. By 6:40pm, the world for Sam, Tom and I had changed forever.
Last week a woman said something to me that stopped me in my tracks. It had occurred within the context of a conversation we were having about the death of my husband last year when she asked me how I was coping. I explained that I was getting back on my feet. It was then she said,
Once AMAR learned about Samila's story, we immediately went into action, helping her to develop the skills needed to provide for her family. We were able to help her buy a sewing machine, and she now has clients of her own with a steady income giving her peace of mind and a new confidence.
If you want to help Brendan Cox, or any bereaved friend, remember that the pain goes on for them. And on, and on, and on. You can help. Just be there. Take them out, let them cry, realise that they are a newborn trying to find out who they are going to become now that the world has ended. They will remember your kindness (or your stupidity) forever.
I think this is an impressive story and Hilda an inspirational woman. It is a reminder of why our programme is so powerful: how else could one help a widow and her four dependents to create a sustainable livelihood with such modest investment?
8, Repeat the above list often until person can face the world (most importantly - stay in regular contact, broken hearted