A widowed mother claims she has been shunned by friends and family members because she began dating just eight weeks after her husband died.
Natalie Drury lost husband Tim Madeley, 50, on New Year’s Day 2015, following a 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 – now happily remarried to Paul Drury – claims the criticism she still faces is devastating.
Despite receiving support from most of her family, she claims some relatives, friends and colleagues shunned her.
Natalie Drury (pictured, left, marrying first husband Tim) says that after remarrying to Paul (right) she still faces criticism four years on from her first partner’s death
Two years later when she joined Plenty of Fish, she says many friends told her it was still too soon.
Now happily married for the second time, Natalie is speaking out about love after bereavement to encourage others to stop being so judgemental.
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.
Mrs Drury claims that she was shamed by friends, family and colleagues after her first husband (pictured in hospital, with their son, Oliver) passed away
‘When the time came it was a release and when you lose someone, you lose your friends.
‘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.
Mrs Drury says that she believes her son, Oliver (pictured) has also been able to enjoy life more since she remarried Paul
‘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.
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 called her father saying she wanted to come home and when the family returned to the UK, Tim visited the doctors.
‘We went on holiday in 2014 to Spain which is when Tim started behaving really weird,’ she said.
‘He’d be walking with his head on the side or if I gave him his lunch on a plate, he’d looked at me and tip it all on the floor. We’d gone over there because he’d agree 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.
Natalie has now happily remarried to Paul (both are pictured on their wedding day) after she found love again following her first husband’s death
‘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 (pictured, left at her first wedding and, right, with first husband Tim) says that people should resist being so judgmental
‘It was horrendous, especially during that Christmas,’ she said. ‘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 father. By 2016, Natalie decided to get out there once again and started dating again.
‘I joined Plenty of Fish and that’s where I met Paul,’ she said. ‘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.’
When Natalie got a new job as a nursery cook, colleagues also questioned how quickly she had found a new partner. But she believes Oliver was helped by seeing her smile again.
‘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. The teachers got concerned about Oliver and he had to take a teddy into school for six months. He communicated through the teddy. I think it’s helped Oliver to see his mum happy again.’