Wendy Schipper, one of our new Befrienders, shares her journey of being suddenly widowed only six weeks after her son's birth and how she is now ready to walk alongside those on a similar journey.
My name is Wendy and I met my husband, Ian, at the church we both attended when I was in my late teens.
We were both involved in youth work and over the years we became great friends. There was a group of us who were all around the same age and we socialised together most weekends.
As time went on, most of the group left the area to go to university as our lives took different paths. However, Ian and I both stayed local and continued to be involved in church life. Our relationship developed and quickly grew from friendship to officially being a couple, with a little help from just happening to be in the same places at the same times as each other! We married in 2001 and continued to work with the teenagers in the church through running youth groups on Friday nights and opening our home on Sunday evenings too.
We welcomed our son Billy in June 2008, but sadly we only had six weeks together as a family. One night, Ian collapsed suddenly and never regained consciousness. We later found out that he had an undiagnosed heart condition called Cardiomyopathy. He had no symptoms and so we were given no warning of what was about to happen.
Suddenly, life took me down a path that I’d never expected. Much of those initial days are still a blur. I was blessed to have wonderful support from both my family and my in-laws, including practical things such as cooking, cleaning and lift giving. I was also comforted by my faith, knowing that Ian was in heaven with God. But this wasn’t the plan that we had had for our lives.
Questions around marriage or having a partner were always difficult. People talking about their husbands and then asking me about mine was hard, especially when they became upset that they may have upset me with their words. All I wanted was for people to behave normally around me and not treat me differently. Becoming a single parent was challenging too as, all of a sudden, I had to make every decision myself and didn’t have Ian to discuss things with and bounce ideas off.
In the autumn of 2008, I attended an event run by Care for the Family, held at a church within walking distance of my home. The event was called ‘A different journey’ and it gave me so much hope that there was a future for Billy and I. I knew that I wasn’t alone and found great hope in finding people who really understood how I was feeling and even saying what I was thinking out loud!
In time, I found a new routine of not thinking too far ahead, as otherwise this was just too scary. Simply giving myself one job for the day and rewarding myself when I’d completed it was a great help. Putting one foot in front of the other to get myself from hour to hour gradually became day to day and then week to week.
It will be fourteen years in August since I lost Ian. Having journeyed many highs and lows, my son is now a teenager and I find myself with more time on my hands. My life is changing again and I have a heart to help others who are beginning to walk a journey similar to mine. We all need that person who can get alongside us and give us hope for the future. That is what I experienced all those years ago and now I want to be that person for others.
Find out about our support events and befriending available to those have been widowed young.
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