I fell in love with my husband's best friend six months after he died – I don't feel guilty, he'd be happy for us | The Sun

EVERYONE deals with grief differently.

From moving on, to staying resolutely single – two women share their experiences of life after losing the men they loved.

‘I know keith would be happy I’ve found love with his best friend’ 

Zoe Matthews, 54, is a pub landlady from Reading, Berkshire.

“Sitting in the garden with a G&T, I turned to my partner Stephen and smiled.

“This is how we like to raise a toast to my late husband – and Stephen’s best friend – Keith, who passed away in January 2020.

“But if you’d told me back then that I’d be in a relationship with the best man from our wedding, I’d never have believed you. 

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“I met Keith on a night out in December 1999 when I was 30 and he was 35.

“A DJ who was obsessed with music, from jazz to disco, he was amazing.

“He had a big group of friends who he’d met in the early-’80s, and we’d all go on nights out together.

“I always thought his friend Stephen had a kind heart, but there was certainly nothing romantic between us. 

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“Keith and I married in June 2004, with Stephen as best man.

“We were very happy together, with him taking my children from a previous relationship – Robert, now 37, Charlotte, 35, and Emily, 34 – on as his own.

“When Charlotte had her daughter Poppy in 2012, we were overjoyed to be grandparents. 

“Keith was very active and healthy, so when he started having IBS-like problems in 2016, it was out of the ordinary and he made an appointment to see the GP.

“After a colonoscopy, we were shocked to be told he had stage 4 bowel cancer that had spread to his lungs.

“Though it was treatable, it wasn’t curable, and doctors said he might have just two to five years left.

“I broke down, but Keith stayed positive as he started chemo and radiotherapy. 

“We decided to make the most of our time left together, booking a beautiful break to Italy in May 2018.

“Keith carried on with chemo, but by March 2019, doctors said he needed to take a break as it was making him too unwell.

“That October, Keith had a fall, and in A&E doctors discovered the cancer had spread to his brain.

“He had radiotherapy, but there wasn’t much else that could be done, and in December, we brought Keith home.

“He died on January 8, 2020, aged just 55.

“I went into shock.

“The funeral was awful and, with the world going into lockdown, I wrestled with my grief.

“As the months went by, Stephen, 55, and I grew closer.

“Recently separated and a dad to two grown-up kids, he was really there for me.

“A painter, he’d pop round to do odd jobs and chat about Keith, who he also deeply missed. 

“Before he died, Keith encouraged me to meet someone else.

“At the time, I said: ‘No way.’

“But when something began to blossom between me and Stephen six months after Keith died, I didn’t feel guilty.

“I knew he’d have been happy for us.

“The relationship happened partly because we share so many memories of Keith, and we’d often have a toast to him in the garden, where we shared our first kiss in July 2020.

“It was a surprise for us both, and we took things slowly.

“Our friends and family have been supportive and we’re discussing moving in together.

“When I heard about an opportunity to invest in our local pub, The Six Bells, with my best friend Debbie, Stephen told me to go for it.

“I’d always wanted to be a pub landlady, so I quit my admin job and followed my dream in February 2021. 

“When we’re not working, Stephen and I are both homebodies who love to cook and watch films, but we also love a night out, when we reminisce about the fun times we had with Keith. 

“I will never get over losing Keith, but I also feel incredibly lucky to have Stephen now.

“I’m looking forward to what our future together holds.”

‘Nobody could compare to my late husband’ 

Vanessa Davies, 61, is a retired nurse and WW coach.

She lives in Portsmouth with her daughter Caroline, 28, son-in-law George, 28, and grandchildren Angus, four, and Elbur, one.

“Holding my husband Nick’s hand as he lay sick in bed with cancer, I felt my heart breaking.

“We had been together since we were teenagers, and I couldn’t imagine life without him.

“I met Nick through friends when I was 16 and he was 18, and he was my first love.

“He was kind, funny and good-looking.

“We had a long-distance relationship for the next two years while I was doing a nursing course in Colchester, Essex, and he did a Ministry of Defence course in Bath, sending each other lots of letters, which I now keep in my bedside drawer. 

“We got married in February 1981, then had Lorraine in 1987, followed by Rachel in 1988, and Caroline in 1994, before becoming grandparents to Emma, 10, Felicity, nine, Sebastien and Zoe, both eight, Angus, four, and Ariya, three.

“It was a large, happy family, and Nick was brilliant with all the kids.

“In the summer of 2019, after 41 years together, Nick started to get strange pains under his ribs.

“He underwent a series of tests, before being referred to a consultant.

“That October, he broke the devastating news that Nick had pancreatic cancer, which had spread to his liver, and he had six to nine months to live.

“I didn’t know how to cope, so I went into practical mode, determined to care for Nick the best I could. 

“Caroline was due to get married in the summer of 2021, but brought the wedding forward to January 2020 so Nick could be there.

“When lockdown hit that March, we were really careful, not really leaving the house.

“Nick was tired, but his condition seemed manageable, and we were able to have a socially distanced gathering with family on May 28, 2020. 

“After that, Nick was very poorly, but he was still able to talk, and we spent time together as a family.

“On June 8, he began to deteriorate and by the evening he was comatose.

“As a former nurse, I knew it was important that we sit and talk to Nick as he gradually slipped away.

“He died the following day on June 9.

“After Nick’s funeral, I hated being on my own.

“The house felt so empty, especially at night.

“So in 2021, Caroline, who was pregnant with her second child, and her family moved in.

“I’ve been glad to help out with the childcare, as it keeps me busy and grateful for the family I have.

“Before Nick passed away, he told me that if I met somebody else one day, he was fine with that.

“But nobody else could ever compare to him.

“He was all I ever knew – and it would take a lot for anybody to live up to that.

“Right now, being with family and friends is enough for me.

“I’ve also found a really supportive community through the Widowed and Rising Facebook group.

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“Nick’s death broke me, but as I spend time with my family, I know he lives on in them.”

Visit Facebook.com/groups/widowedandrising.

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