Bereaved spouses and partners

A place for widows and widowers to share their feelings and support one another.

Listening To My Late Husband's Voice

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Hi everyone,

Today I would like to share an observation with you that really surprises me. I would love to know of course if anyone else here has experienced something similar.

My husband Paul, who died in May of 2018, used to read lots of things to me and I would record it with my MP3 recorder. So whenever I went to a course and needed the course material to be read to me he would do that. I also used to record us quite a bit on special days; so, for example, I have recordings of Christmas day 2014, 2015 and 2016 and I also have the recording from the day at the beginning of January when we took down the Christmas decoration.

In the last couple of days, I wanted to revisite some of the Shambhala Buddhist teachings Paul read and recorded some years back. I wasn't sure how it would feel to listen to his voice, but I so wanted to study the material again that I decided to give it a go. What first surprised me was that, although I hadn't heard his voice for quite some time, it didn't sound like a strange voice. You know, sometimes when you hear the voice of somebody who is gone a very long time I would hardly recognise the voice or hearing the voice would spark a lot of memory and it would be painful. Not in this case. I actually loved listening to him.

So today then I decided to listen to the recording from the day when we took down the Christmas decoration in early 2018. The first thing I realised was how weak he sounded, really exhausted, with very little happiness or even interest in what we were doing. What I also noticed was that I, by contrast, tried to be very cheerful and happy and was very talkative trying to engage him in conversation all the time, but also sometimes a little impatient; for example, I was trying to put Christmas lights back into the box and they wouldn't fit and I said, "I am really sick and tired of always having to try so hard with all this shit!" So to me I seemed very tense and not particularly resilient. 

I am wondering how it is that it doesn't make me feel very sad when I listen. Is it because I have truly accepted that Paul is no longer here? Or is Paul here so much in my heart and mind, his spirit perhaps with me, that this is why his voice doesn't cause much emotion? And, to be honest, I also wonder if it is because I don't only have good memories - to tell you the truth, when I think back to our final year together what I can feel the most, apart from the sadness that he died of course, is the strain we were under and the pressure we were living with and the constant fear of loss or not doing the right thing or whatever... So what I am saying is: Are my memories perhaps very different from the memories of someone who had a healthy and fit partner one day and everything is great and then, the next day, the partner passes away?

But I also feel that there is maybe, just maybe, still a tiny little part in me that still can't believe that all this has happened, that Paul is actually no longer here and will never come back, that this person is really and forever gone and that it is their ashes that I scattered at Killiney Beach in summer. Does that sound weird? I mean, I know he is gone and I know he is not going to be back, and yet, I wonder if there is a small part of me that just can't allow itself to feel that fully.

I don't know what it is of all the above. And of course it doesn't matter. All we can depend on now is that sorrow will remain faithful to itself  as John O'Donohue said. But I just wanted to share this with you. I don't really know why.

Love and light to everyone on this grey and rainy Sunday


I don't like "moving on" because it sounds like leaving our loved one and all that happened behind. But I like "moving forward" because it means that, in spite of my tremendous loss and the pain about that, I move forward in my own life taking Paul with me.
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Hi Mel  my wife passed very quickly coffee one day 2days later she had passed so we never got to really talk about it but I do listen to her voice on videos it always sounds familiar and I do smile cc at her giggling the big regret is we never got the chance to say our goodbyes properly she could not speak in her last hours 

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Hi Mel, coincidentally I have just ordered an old fashioned dictaphone, one that takes mini cassette tapes, so that I can listen to a whole lot of research interviews that Mike carried out when he was doing his PhD years ago. I came across them in a box yesterday and I’m really excited to think I might be able to hear his voice, from when he was young and strong. I’m also a bit apprehensive in case it upsets me but to be honest I can’t imagine feeling any worse than I do right now! But your account of listening to Paul is reassuring. So thank you for that. 
I hope you continue to enjoy listening to him and cherish the good memories. Like you I have some very painful memories about Mike’s illness and death but I’m trying to focus on the good and ‘park the crap’ as a friend ( also widowed) said to me recently. 
I wish you strength and a good nights sleep. 

Trying to be like the tree that bends with the wind and rain and thus weathers the storm