Grief and bereavement is probably one of the most common experiences we will have in our lifetime. Unfortunately, everyone dies at some point. The most harrowing thing about death is we often have no control over who, when or how someone dies.

Therefore, while we may all experience grief and bereavement – our experiences differ entirely. Like mental illness, there is no one way to ‘treat’ or ‘be cured’ of grief. Sometimes, it’s just something we carry around with us and learn to cope with.

An old family friend and real inspiration of mine, Jo, recently lost her husband and we spoke about her grieving process.

I grew up around Jo and Derek and watched their love story unfold. Derek was a huge Blackpool FC supporter, England cricket fan and all round great bloke. I have many memories of my Dad and I berating him with score lines and jokes about Blackpool (as loyal PNE supporters).

Jo, being the incredible woman she is, wanted to share her experiences to help others. Jo told me as she still has Derek’s phone number, she WhatsApps him everyday. She writes to him like a journal, a private letter between the two of them.

Jo let me share what she wrote to Derek this morning:

‘A lovely sunrise this morning, it lifted my spirit temporarily and then it hits me! It’s been 11 weeks today and it feels like a lifetime since you were here by my side.

Everybody says one day at a time – baby steps, but no one can ever prepare you for the heartache of losing the love of your life. You always said that you wouldn’t want to be the one left behind although you weren’t anticipating such an early departure.

All I can say is it’s like having a hole inside of you, an emptiness, a pain that is physical, your heart really does ache. Each day is a battle with yourself to put on that brave face and get through it. But it gets harder as other people around you move on. Our children, brothers, sisters have there own lives outside of our bubble. Our bubble burst completely, my life has also ended as I knew it and to move forward is difficult because that’s not how it should be or how I want it to be.

I’m so glad we found each other and loved each other but I’m so angry at the world that you were taken from me. I find I am agreeing with people when they say at least I have great memories to help me through, and I do, but they’re not enough.

I feel cheated of our future life together. I know I will learn to live a life without you as I have no other choice but at the moment getting up in the morning and facing another day without my other half is a victory.

Love you always and forever xxxxxxx’

I want to personally thank Jo for her bravery and willingness to share her real lived experience with the Stop The World community. To share something so personal and raw in an attempt to just share her experiences with others is truly inspirational.

Derek will always be remembered, as will your brave words Jo.

Love always,

Lauren & Jo x

Jo & Derek