Cath Holland

Every widow’s story is unique

Cath Holland is a writer and spoken word performer based on Merseyside.

Her fiction and non-fiction writings are widely published.

Cath has appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, Five’s The Wright Stuff, and Vanessa Feltz, along with regional platforms. She presented a weekly speech-based radio programme on the Bauer network, and the 52% television show on Bay TV highlighting women’s issues.

Two days before Christmas 2017 Andy, Cath’s husband of 22 years, was unexpectedly diagnosed with bowel cancer. Despite initially told to expect ‘a rocky few months’, within a year the disease escalated from treatable to terminal. Cath cared for Andy over the 19 months of his illness, managing the emotional and practical challenges and passionately acting as his advocate.

When Andy died aged just 53 in August 2019, Cath was immediately made aware of her widowed status in ways she did not expect.  She found so many people were embarrassed, unsure of how to respond or react to such a tragic change in her circumstances. The reluctance for others to even mention Andy’s name was distressing for Cath. It felt as if, to the rest of the world anyway, the man she had shared the bulk of her adult life with had never even existed. On top of that, the strong woman trope added further burdens for her to carry. Talking to other widows, Cath found that her story is not unique. Indeed, it is a commonplace experience.

Learning from this, Cath now loves to talk positively to others about how they can interact and support a woman after the loss of a husband or partner. She shares ideas and simple actions to help a widowed friend or relative navigate this new life.

Tips include:

- How a widow will never turn away the gift of a casserole, chocolate (or bottle of wine!)
- How practical offers to do shopping, weed the garden, mow the lawn, empty the bins, are so appreciated.
- How you should keep inviting a widow friend for coffee or meet up, even if she keeps saying no.
- How you should let her cry.
- How saying the wrong thing is better than saying nothing at all.

And much more.

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