A widowed mum claims she was shunned by friends and family members because she began dating eight weeks after her husband died
Natalie Drury’s husband Tim Madeley, 50, passed away on New Year’s Day 2015, following a short battle with brain cancer.
Eight weeks later, the 42-year-old nursery cook went on her first date since he died.
Although it didn’t progress into a relationship, Natalie claims the criticism she faced then and still faces today has been devastating.
Despite receiving support from most of her family, Natalie said that she had a hard time from friends and family – especially those on Tim’s side.
Now happily married for the second time after finding love online, Natalie is speaking to encourage others to stop being so judgemental about love after berevement.
Natalie, from Stalybridge, Greater Manchester, said: “When Tim took ill in the August, they told me pretty early on what the outcome was going to be.
“I did my grieving in those four months while he was still here. I knew what was coming and I had to stay strong for our son Oliver.
“When Tim died, my friends didn’t call because they didn’t know what to say, so they didn’t say anything at all. I was in shock and so lonely.
“Eventually I got to the point where I did want to go out and so I went on a date with a local man.
“It didn’t go anywhere but it caused people to say I had disrespected my husband.
“I had every respect for him – but I knew he was never coming back.
“I couldn’t sit alone in my house crying. I went out and enjoyed myself for a few weeks.
“People avoid you when a loved one dies. Soon after Tim passed away I was walking down the street and people would cross over because they didn’t know what to say. You do feel isolated.
“If you haven’t been through it you can never understand. [Finding love again] doesn’t mean I’ve no respect for Tim.
“Some people were judgemental, especially at work. I had got a job after he passed.
“People would say ‘it’s only been two years’ but I’d say ‘exactly. Do you want me to sit on the sofa wearing black and never go out?’
“People are so quick to judge. It’s not right.”
In the summer prior to his death, Tim and Natalie had been on holiday to Spain with their four-year-old son Oliver while Tim did some painting work.
The couple were away for a week but days into the trip, Natalie noticed her husband was ‘behaving really weird’ and had been acting ‘daft’.
A desperate Natalie even called her dad saying she wanted to come home and when the family returned to the UK, Tim visited the doctors.
Natalie said: “We went on holiday in 2014 to Spain which is when Tim started behaving really weird.
“He’d be walking with his head on the side or if I gave him his lunch on a plate, he’d look at me and tip it all on the floor.
“We’d gone over there because he’d agreed to do some work on a villa.
“As the week went on, he hadn’t done any painting and was just behaving really daft. I began to notice something wasn’t right.
“When we got back, I took him straight to the doctors and they thought he’d had a stroke.
“He went into hospital that night and he was soon diagnosed with a brain tumour.
“The specialists said that because we’d been on holiday the air pressure on the plane had accelerated the tumour.
“He went to The Christie in Manchester but there was nothing they could do.
“They gave him chemotherapy but it wasn’t doing anything at all.
“I did mourn. From getting the brain tumour, each of the words that came out Tim’s mouth you couldn’t take seriously. It was like talking to an older person with dementia.
“He wanted me to be happy and move on.”
That December, Natalie scrambled around to afford Christmas presents for Oliver as her husband lay in his hospice bed.
During what should have been a happy time of year, she agonised over how to tell her little boy that his dad might not make it through the month.
Natalie said: “It was horrendous, especially during that Christmas. I was trying to keep things jolly for Oliver but I was struggling for money.
“Sadly Tim was soon transferred to a hospice. He couldn’t speak or move around. It was just terrible.
“Oliver understood what was happening. He asked me ‘is my daddy going to die?’.
“I could have lied and said no. But I sat him down and explained in terms a four-year-old would be able to understand.
“Tim had been the breadwinner and I’d been at home with Oliver, so people rallied round us to make sure he got some Christmas presents.
“Tim survived through Christmas but the week later he went downhill. On New Year’s Day 2015 he passed away.”
Suffering with the crippling loneliness and grief, Natalie decided to begin dating again just eight weeks later.
However when her first dates didn’t come to anything, she focused on helping her son Oliver come to terms with losing his dad.
By 2016, Natalie decided to get out there once again and started dating again.
Although it was almost two years since Tim had died, Natalie claims she was still judged by family and colleagues – even after her she married Paul 18 months later.
Natalie said: “At the end of 2016 I joined Plenty of Fish and that’s where I met Paul.
“It was a happy ending. Paul is a lovely man and from the start I told him the whole story.
“I explained I had a son and he might be sensitive to the situation, but Oliver took to him straight away. It just progressed from there and soon it became our new normal.
“When we got married it was really sweet.
“At the wedding reception looked up at us and said ‘can I play out?’ He ran over to Paul and said ‘Daddy, can we play out?’.
“Oliver still talks about Tim. He has his watch and we speak about him everyday – night and day.
“Oliver is now eight years old. A lot of people, especially family, we don’t speak to.
“Tim had older children – he was 14 years older than me. He had five, including Oliver.
“I’m still in contact with two of them now.
“They were really supportive from the beginning and came to my wedding in the evening.
“[Some other people on Tim’s side of the family were] really unsupportive and quite disrespectful.”
When Natalie got a new job as a nursery cook, she was also questioned about how quickly she had found a new partner.
Despite losing some friends and family, Natalie claimed her own family were there for her and believes Oliver was helped by seeing her smile again.
Natalie said: “I just feel like [those that criticised me about starting to date again] need to take a step back and think. God forbid if they were in that position. You just can’t say that.
“I did join Plenty of Fish but I didn’t go out looking for love.
“I still post about him. I posted on Facebook on New Year’s Day last year ‘it’s been nearly three years since you passed and I hope that you’re looking down on me on my wedding day.’
“I got a lot of comments – none to my face.
“My family were so supportive.
“I think it’s helped Oliver to see his mum happy again.”