Donna's story – support after my husband died

Thursday 06 February 2020

Maggie's Aberdeen

After my husband died, Maggie's Aberdeen was my safe haven. I now volunteer at Maggie's and it’s such a privilege to welcome others who are looking for their own support.

My husband's diagnosis

Once my husband found out he had cancer, it was only a matter of weeks before we knew he wasn't going to get better.

How do you even process that? I still today don’t know if I actually did. 

You would think that it would be something you discuss together, but in reality for us, we never did. Obviously we discussed his cancer and treatment plans, clinical trials, etc, but the fact that he was going to die? No, how could we?

We were soulmates and had loved each other unconditionally for 32 years. Just us two, a team. How could it be possible for one to contemplate living without the other? We went into protective mode for each other. 

My super brave husband wanted nothing more than for life to remain normal. So with such strength and determination, that’s what we did. But for me, the pain was horrific as I watched my handsome, strong soulmate slowly fade away to a shadow of himself before my very eyes. 

"Anyone who has lost a loved one to cancer knows how traumatic it can be. For me, I had this immense feeling that I couldn’t cope."

I had lost my world and was unable to process what had happened over the past year and a half, how could my husband be gone?

How Maggie's helped me

I knew I needed Maggie’s and yet remember feeling guilty entering the centre because I didn’t have cancer myself. I worried that in some way I was being insensitive to others. But I quickly realised that Maggie’s is there for everyone that has been affected by cancer. 

I had regular sessions with the Clinical Psychologist, and also attended relaxation and bereavement group sessions. I began to realise that my bereavement was similar to many people who are living with cancer, with feelings of isolation and loss of control.

It’s a safe space to allow your raw emotions out. It was with the help of Maggie’s Psychologist I learnt that it was ok not to be ok. This may sound simple, but for me, it was so powerful. 

"Even with the most supportive friends, I had to put a brave face one, but not at Maggie’s, where I could simply be me."

I struggled so much with returning to work that I decided to give it up and allow myself some self-care time out. This was a huge step for me, never having been self-indulgent, but Maggie’s support made me realise that I had to listen to my inner voice and take care of me.


Maggie’s Aberdeen was my safe haven and once I felt stronger, I really wanted to give my time to volunteering.

It’s such a privilege to welcome others into Maggie’s who are looking for their own support, even if they don’t know exactly what that might be. I just hope they can feel the warmth that Maggie’s gives.

For me, it was like walking into a big hug, which was so needed.

We're here for you

If you or someone you love has cancer, we are here with you.

Come and see us at your nearest Maggie’s, call us on 0300 123 180 or email us at

If you are interested in volunteering for Maggie's, find out more about the ways in which you can help.

Last review: Jun 2023 | Next review: Sep 2023

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