Widowed AF

#85 - Jennifer Plant

December 11, 2023 Rosie Gill-Moss Season 1 Episode 85
#85 - Jennifer Plant
Widowed AF
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Widowed AF
#85 - Jennifer Plant
Dec 11, 2023 Season 1 Episode 85
Rosie Gill-Moss

 In this episode of Widowed AF, Jen candidly shares her experience of navigating life after the tragic loss of her husband. She opens up about the challenges she faced, including feeling lost and infantilised, financial struggles, and lack of support. Jen discusses the process of selling possessions and dealing with financial instability. She also reflects on the difficulties of navigating death administrative tasks and seeking financial assistance.

Throughout the conversation, Jen and Rosie explore various topics related to complex grief, identifying as a widow, comparing grief experiences, and finding happiness after loss. They delve into the complexities of starting new relationships and navigating step-family dynamics, emphasising the importance of open communication and understanding.

Jen's resilience and ambition shine through as she shares her personal journey of growth and healing. Rosie acknowledges Jen's strength and highlights that many successful individuals have emerged from difficult circumstances. By sharing her story, Jen provides a voice for others who have experienced similar losses and offers insights into the healing process.

Tune in to Widowed AF as Jen's inspiring journey reminds us of the resilience of the human spirit and the potential for growth and happiness even after unimaginable loss.



Web: (https://www.widowedaf.com)
Instagram (@widowed_af)
Watch on (YouTube)

Don't forget to subscribe !

Show Notes Transcript

 In this episode of Widowed AF, Jen candidly shares her experience of navigating life after the tragic loss of her husband. She opens up about the challenges she faced, including feeling lost and infantilised, financial struggles, and lack of support. Jen discusses the process of selling possessions and dealing with financial instability. She also reflects on the difficulties of navigating death administrative tasks and seeking financial assistance.

Throughout the conversation, Jen and Rosie explore various topics related to complex grief, identifying as a widow, comparing grief experiences, and finding happiness after loss. They delve into the complexities of starting new relationships and navigating step-family dynamics, emphasising the importance of open communication and understanding.

Jen's resilience and ambition shine through as she shares her personal journey of growth and healing. Rosie acknowledges Jen's strength and highlights that many successful individuals have emerged from difficult circumstances. By sharing her story, Jen provides a voice for others who have experienced similar losses and offers insights into the healing process.

Tune in to Widowed AF as Jen's inspiring journey reminds us of the resilience of the human spirit and the potential for growth and happiness even after unimaginable loss.



Web: (https://www.widowedaf.com)
Instagram (@widowed_af)
Watch on (YouTube)

Don't forget to subscribe !

Rosie Gill-Moss:

hello and a very warm welcome back to Widowed a F. You are here with your host Rosie Gil Moss. And joining me from not that far away from me actually is Jen Plant. Hello, Jen.

Jen Plant:

Hello, good to see you.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

And to see you. It was quite funny. I noticed, um, when your form came in that you lived at the time in the same town as me and I messaged you and said, Oh, I know you're not in for ages, but I've just realized we live locally. How weird. And, um, what was it you said to me, Jen?

Jen Plant:

Oh, well, I thought you lived in Cornwall. Um, I thought you were of a type. I thought you would be wearing a stripy bread on top and have children on the beach. I don't know why.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

It has been known because I did used to live near Whitstable, so I, I have fitted that stereotype

Jen Plant:

disappointed.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I tried very hard to find a Bretton Stripe top I could fit into today. So you've got lime green instead.

Jen Plant:

hmm. Yeah.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I have had a little chat with you off, uh, Mike, just to talk about Mike, your late husband. Fairly recently, it's, it's, it's last November and I said to you, oh gosh, you know, that's, that's pretty recent then, you must still be reeling and you sort of went, hmm, sort of, so it was, and then I remember from your notes that, You were about to separate, so this is going to add a very different dynamic to the story, which is, I'm really interested to hear, because, I mean, by the time you go out, you'll probably be coming towards episode 80, every single story is different, and it's, it's, I'm genuinely fascinated, so, um, I mean, where would you like to start? Do you want to start your love story and go from there, or?

Jen Plant:

Yeah, um, so I met Mike when I was 19. Um, but I was a very grown up 19 year old. I had, um, I worked in London. I had my own flat. Um, and I met him in a nightclub in Brixton where all great love stories begin. Um, and he was 28 and I was absolutely besotted with him. I thought he was just the sexiest, most exciting man I'd ever met. I think because I'm from a very small town in Kent, and he was from London, he was a London man, and I was like, ooh, that's very exciting. And his friends were all very exciting, and I'm from a, you know, a place and a kind of generation where there aren't drugs and people are terrified of them and him and his mates would like take drugs and go clubbing and I was like, wow, what a, what a guy. Um, and he had the glamour of it and he, um, also he had a really good job in, in London. And, um, I did too, I hasten to add, but I'd, again, I'd, the boyfriend I'd had before him was a waiter, um, in a restaurant, and the boyfriend I'd had before that was a student, so it was like this, this grown up man. I was very, kind of, infatuated by him. And, we, I think, we got engaged when I was twenty? Uh, and I asked him to marry me, um,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Oh, how modern.

Jen Plant:

because I was just like, I just love him, I just want to marry him, I want to be with him all the time, and I, you know, I've kind of wanted to lock it down. Um, and we bought our first house when I was 21, and we got married when I was 22, um, and we just had, I would say, like, I just, I just thought he was the best, I really did. And, um, we had He had two children who, when we met, they were seven and eleven, and they're now both in their thirties, which is insane. Um, and we had them every other weekend and, you know, we, his, He lost his, his, his father had died when he was very, very small of a heart attack. Um, and his mum was quite elderly. We looked after his mum. His mum died. Um, we tried to have a baby for about seven years before we did. So we had three miscarriages that, so we went through like sad things, you know, things happened. But we were really good at kind of sticking together. Um. And that was really great. And then about, I'd say just after, well, during lockdown, we had an incredible time that we always laugh about the fact that, you know, for a lot of people and I know for you as well, you know, COVID times were awful, but we had the best COVID times. We like just hold up me and my husband and my son. Um, we were, he was about sort of 10, 11 at the time. Um, and we just had Great times. We were really happy when it was the three of us.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

It's funny you say that because, uh, John and I said, you know, cause obviously, yeah, COVID was a bit shit for us, but we, um, we both said, yeah, but if he hadn't caused it, we'd have just had the time of our lives. Cause we were just getting together. We were madly in love. Um, we, we, we had a big, big garden. We were like, like, it would have been awesome in a way, but then it obviously wasn't. So.

Jen Plant:

we kind of had that, like, the first lockdown, when the weather was incredible, we had this lovely big garden, um, we lived, like, in the middle of woods. It was, like, it was incredible. We'd go for our walks every day and we actually lived somewhere it was nice to go walking. Um, we would work all day and then we'd get to, um, At half five and Mike would go right cocktail hour and he we bought all these unusual spirits and he'd make an exciting cocktail We had a hot tub in the back garden and then me Mike and our son Reg would go and sit in the hot tub And we'd like just honestly, it was like brilliant and then The second lockdown, the Christmassy one, was even better because we were like, well it's winter and we kind of just hold up and I decorated the house for Christmas at the beginning of November because I was like, why not? Like, why not? Let's just make it

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Do you know what, the lights I put up in the dining room are still there because they just look, honestly, because I

Jen Plant:

Isn't

Rosie Gill-Moss:

loved it so much and it cheered up the house so much and it's quite, my house is quite old so the middle of it's quite dark.

Jen Plant:

Yeah, yeah.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

And, I just think they just remind me of putting up decorations in November and I'm one of those people that's like, no, first of December, but it was so miserable, we just thought, let's just decorate.

Jen Plant:

but we loved it and we, and I, and we When he went, what happened was, I'm a, um, a deputy head of a secondary school, so, um, I only worked from home until schools were open, and I went back to work, I think it was like the March, and Reg went back to school, and Mike carried on working from home really from then on in, and he got lonelier and lonelier, and sadder and sadder, um, and I think it made him, uh, I don't know, I think he started to really resent the fact that I got to go somewhere every day. And I think I started to resent the fact he didn't have to go somewhere every day. And I think that, and I, I worked quite a long way from, from where we lived at the time. So I had like an hour's drive to, to work, hour's drive back. Um, and the rest of the year kind of carried on fairly uneventfully, but it was just quite hard. And then in the January, um, the following, so January last year, um, 2022, Um, my. I had to really think then, it's dreadful. Um, my best friend died in a car accident.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Oh gosh.

Jen Plant:

Um, and she was my, she was the love of my life. She was like my best friend since we were we. And um,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

made me go really

Jen Plant:

oh it was

Rosie Gill-Moss:

so sorry.

Jen Plant:

was terrible. And um, one of the things that happened was, was that, I was at work, so my best friend's dad, And like I said, I can't, I can't stress enough how close we were. She was literally my other half, you know, when people talk about having another half, it was her. Um, and my husband had always known that he would play second fiddle to the fact that we'd be the great love story and things, you know, she was my person. And, um, he, I was at work and my, um, and her dad phoned Mike at about 11 10 o'clock, and he phoned her at about 11 o'clock and said she'd died. And I did the rest of the day at work, and then I met my friend Leanne for a drink after work, and I didn't get home until about half eight. And then Mike told me, and I just felt like my best friend had been dead all day, and I

Rosie Gill-Moss:

And you didn't know?

Jen Plant:

knew. And he was kind of like, well it's been really hard for me, because I've not known what to do. And I was like, I just, I really struggled with it. And it left me with a bit of a sense of, she was my age, I was 41 at the time, and I just thought, Oh God, you can just go. Like, you can just go. You can just die. And I, I think I resented Mike a little bit that he hadn't told me about it. I think I realised that that was the saddest I could ever be. And, and I think it made me think about what I wanted from the rest of my life, um, a bit. Um, I think I Thought to myself, like, you know, if I had a limited time left, am I, am I happy with the life that I've got?

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah.

Jen Plant:

Um, and then we, um, we were kind of rubbing along quite nicely. Um, but I just, there was just something missing between the two of us and he knew it as well. I started going to see a grief counsellor because of the fact that Amy had died. And we ended up talking a lot about my marriage. We ended up talking a lot about, um, The fact that we, um, uh, the fact that I didn't really feel connected to Mike anymore. But I used to say, the thing is though, he's a really good husband, he's a really good dad. So that was kind of my line. Um, and then, last year, we had this awful argument. Really, really awful argument. It was kind of, it was in October half term, so it was about this time last year. And I was definitely spending more and more time with my friends. I was definitely spending more time out of the house. I definitely was working later than I needed to, because when I came home, I just found it a bit depressing, and a bit, like, of a struggle, and everything I did kind of was wrong. And, um, and I, and we had this horrible argument, and, um, he said in this argument, like, Well, I'm going to leave you. I'm going to leave you, or I'm going to kill myself, because I can't be done with this anymore.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Wow. That's a, that's a pretty hefty,

Jen Plant:

mmm. And I was like, Jesus Christ, you know, this is like, where has this come from? And he was like, I can't, I can't do it anymore. And I was like, well, look, you know, perhaps we should split up, but we should have a conversation about it. You know, we should be sensible about it. And, um, and he was kind of, you know, well, you'll have to move out because I want to stay in our house with Reg. And I was like, okay, but I don't know how I'll do that. So you've got to give me a bit of time. Um, and then we'd have, we'd have moments like that. And then we'd have moments where. It would be back to normal and everything would be fine. And so, it was a weird one. Because on the one hand, I'd be like, this is really difficult. And then on the other hand, I'd think, oh, but you're a nice man and you're a good dad and we've And by this point, I've been married to him longer than I haven't been in my life. So, my entire adulthood has been living with this man who sort of looked after things. And so I was just a bit, I didn't know what to do. And I remember having this really big cry. In the October half term, Mike had had COVID and he'd, we'd both got COVID when we'd gone on a holiday and he was just in bed. And I was downstairs in the kitchen and I completely sobbed my heart out. So I was like, I looked at my, at this lovely big house, this lovely big kitchen. And I stood like on the, like by the kitchen island just thinking like, I'm not going to have this life next, this time next year. Like, this is all coming to an end, and I can feel it all coming to an end. And then, it was on the 20th of November, and I went to a baby shower. And, um, and I don't normally go to baby showers because I disagree with them. I think they're awful.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Me too.

Jen Plant:

I, yeah, just

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Especially, especially for subsequent children.

Jen Plant:

Well, yes.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

one if you, one is okay, I'll tolerate it, but

Jen Plant:

But even then, I'm a like, don't tell the devil too much, baby's not born yet, let's celebrate when it stands up, I don't, and I always found it weird. There was a very, very close friend of mine, and she

Rosie Gill-Moss:

We'll make an exception then.

Jen Plant:

oh, and she had been trying for a baby for years, and she had had miscarriages, and I was like, oh, do you know what, fine. So I went to this baby shower, I was going to meet my friend, um, for brunch first, because she didn't want to go either. So we were going to go and have a meet to be like, oh my god, baby shower, yeah. And, um. And I left, and I gave Mike a kiss, and he was like, Oh, I'll see you in a bit. And he sort of said, What time will you be back? Um, and I said to him, Oh, and he said, He always used to make like a joke about me having a fancy man. He'd be like, Oh, I expect your fancy man will be there. And I was like, I'm just going to a baby shower. But he'd started to get quite paranoid because he was indoors and I was out.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah.

Jen Plant:

And I said, No, no, no. Like, it's a baby shower. No fancy men. Blah, blah, blah. So, off I went.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Not something known for men.

Jen Plant:

Not, not a sexy occasion,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Not really.

Jen Plant:

no. Um, and so we went, uh, so, and I left Mike at home with Reg, and I said, that's my son, and I said, um, what are you and Reg gonna do? And he was like, oh, I don't know, I might take him for a bike ride. I was like, oh, that'll be nice. But I thought to myself, he's not gonna take him for a bike ride, because he's just gonna sit in his pyjamas and wallow about the fact that we're not, that I'm not at home. Or he'll work, or whatever. Um, and I went to the baby shower, and I was gone, I left at about 11, I got back about half five. And, weirdly for me, particularly because of what happened to Amy, and her passing away suddenly, and also when I was, um, a kid, my sister died,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Oh

Jen Plant:

suddenly as well. Yeah, she got hit by a car. I mean, genuinely, don't be friends with me. I am unlucky.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah, you're gonna get a reputation, you know this.

Jen Plant:

Yes, I know, I do think that. It's good they're all different circumstances, and often I'm not there otherwise.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Well, I was gonna say, yes, yes, where were you

Jen Plant:

Yeah, exactly. Um, and, um, yeah, so, um, and I'm not, so I normally phone and I normally go or text and say, is everything okay, but I didn't, I'd sort of had quite a nice time with my friends and in the car on the way home, I was voice noting my friends that I'd, I've been with at this baby shower and we were kind of talking about the baby shower and there were some photographs and I looked really awful in them and I was going why do I look fat in those pictures? I'm not fat and just back and forth. So all I've done was text and said on my way home. I hadn't said is everything okay? I wasn't expecting a reply. I hadn't phoned. And I got home. And the house was really dark, because obviously it was like this time of year, so, and I thought, that's weird, that there's no lights on downstairs. So I came in, switched the lights on, and my son was in his playroom, which was downstairs, and he's a 13 year old boy, so he was just on his gaming

Rosie Gill-Moss:

was gonna say, just thumbs

Jen Plant:

yeah, just plugged in. And I said, oh hi, and he was like, hi mummy, and he came out and he gave me a hug, and I walked into the kitchen, and I saw our box of, you know, like, HelloFresh. thing, you know, like meal kit things. And I saw that was on the breakfast bar, um, and it was, and it was just sat there, and I thought, oh, he's not unpacked that, that's weird. And I went upstairs to our bedroom, because I was going, Mike, Mike, Mike, and I couldn't find him. Um, and I went upstairs to our bedroom, And our bedroom was like, like I said, it was quite a fancy house. And our bedroom was, had like its own kind of hallway. So there was a door to a hallway, then it was its own bathroom and a dressing room. Then there was kind of a partition wall, and then there was our bedroom beyond that. So when you walked in, all you could see was the kind of partition wall, not through to the bedroom. And I went to open the door, and it was locked. And I thought, oh, he's annoyed with me, like he's, he's, he's absolutely got the piss with me. Um, and Reg was behind me, and he was going, that's weird, and I was banging on the door, going, Mike, can you just open the door? Nothing. So then it was one of those, like, silly interior locks, you know. Um, and we'd only put a lock on the door for, you know, wanting to do sexy time, and

Rosie Gill-Moss:

D'you know, I was gonna say, we have a internal lock, a little hook lock, for exactly the same

Jen Plant:

need a small person being like, good morning! Um.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

want to

Jen Plant:

of how good or bad things ever were as Mike and I, we always did lots of the sexy time. That was always like our thing. Um, like, even if things were awful, it was like, well, may as well as we're both there. Um. And, um, so I got a knife, you know how you just get a knife and, so I undid it, and I walked in and I looked at the bed, and I assumed he'd just be in bed having a grump about something. And I looked on the bed and he wasn't on the bed, and I thought, oh, he's not in here. And I was just about to turn around, and out the corner of my eye I saw him lying on the floor, and he was like face down on the floor, like that. I'm sorry, this is a podcast. Imagine, if you will,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

put video out as well, so that, you know, people can imagine.

Jen Plant:

Um, so he was kind of, um, flat on the floor, face down. Um, and I looked at his arms and his arms were kind of mottled and blue. And I thought, oh, he's, he's dead. He's definitely dead. Um, and then Reg came up behind me, and I really didn't want him to see, so I kind of whizzed around and said, oh, Reg, we're gonna, daddy's not very well, we're gonna have to call an ambulance. And he went, okay, ambulance, 999, yes, okay, 999. And I went, right, brilliant. You go downstairs, you look out of your playroom window, because you'll be able to tell me when it's here, because I thought, I just, I don't want

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Give him a job.

Jen Plant:

You have a job. And don't look at this. And then I got closer to Mike and I felt his back and his back was warm and I thought, oh, okay, maybe he's not dead. Because I'd kind of just made that assumption. And I was thinking, oh my god, like, what, you know, I don't know what to do. So I phoned the ambulance and then this is the bit that kills me. Phoned the am, phoned 999 and um, They, I'm on hold and they're like, sorry, we've got, um, call volumes at the moment are incredible and you know, blah, blah, blah, we, you know, and I was just on hold listening to like a hold tone. And I was probably only on hold for about 45 seconds, but I was standing in my bedroom just thinking, how the fuck am I on hold? Like, how is, how is that a thing? Like, this is proper emergency. This isn't, you know. So, got through and I said, right, I think my husband's had a heart attack because In my head, that was the only thing it could possibly be because his dad died of a heart attack, he was very stressed, he was quite overweight. It always used to be a thing where I'd say to him, you're going to have a heart attack if you don't calm down a minute. So, I just thought, okay, this is what's happening. And the ambulance people said, okay, well what we need you to do is turn him over. And because he was kind of wedged between our bed and the wall, and because he probably weighed almost double what I do, I literally couldn't lift him. Like, I couldn't, I couldn't lift him at all. Um, and I was saying, well, I can't. And they were like, well, you need to try. And I was like, no, you don't understand. I can't move him. So they said, well, go and get a neighbor. So I came running downstairs and went outside, went to my neighbor's next door, Bill and Jane, knocked on the door and said, Mike's had a heart attack. Can you come and help me? And, um, Bill from next door came running in, and he like turned him over, and when he turned him over I saw that his lips were completely black, like completely, completely

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Oh my god.

Jen Plant:

saw that his glasses were kind of smashed on his face, like he'd stood up and just fallen down, like hadn't put his arms out or

Rosie Gill-Moss:

buses?

Jen Plant:

I think, I've always thought of heart attacks as being those things where someone suddenly clutches their chest and then they stagger for a bit. But he had just gone BANG! Like you could tell, like his face was kind of Almost bruised, I suppose. His glasses were smashed. Like I say, his lips were blue. And so then my neighbour is being spoken to by the ambulance people and he's doing CPR. And I just walked downstairs, I just kind of left my neighbour and his wife in my bedroom and I walked downstairs and I walked into the playroom and I said to Red Um, I think Daddy's died. Um, because I thought, what is the point of there being this hoopla? And then hours later, and I think I thought about the whole thing with Amy, and the fact that Amy had died and no one told me, and I thought, if I know this information, I've got to tell him. Like, that's, that's, I've got to tell the truth. So I said, I don't know, but I think Daddy's died. And Reg went, okay, okay. And then he said, Mummy, I can't feel my face. And I said, no, yep, I know, like, I'm sor like, I know, and I gave him a hug, and then he said, well, what do we do? And I said, well, we have to wait, because the ambulance people have, have to come, and they have to try and make it better. I just don't think they will. Then the ambulance people turned up, and they sent two ambulances, so it's a little bit sublime to ridiculous. No ambulances. They looked very much like buses, like really sad buses. Um, and they turned up, and they were kind of upstairs for ages. In the meantime, I'd text my friend, um, Eleanor, and I'd message her and said, Can you come over? Mike's had a heart attack. And I'd text my friend Andy and said, Mike's had a heart attack. I don't know what to do, um, because they're the friends that I've been at the baby shower with, so in my head I was like, well, I've just seen you, so that it wasn't even necessarily that they were my closest friends, it was more just like, well, I remember you and I know you're around today, and it was weird.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Just automatic pilot. And all I'm hearing here is I bet that you really needed Amy.

Jen Plant:

yeah, I really did, and I did say that, I literally said, I kept saying to the ambulance people, no, my best friend's just died, and my best friend's just died this year, so this is like,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

can't be happening.

Jen Plant:

can't be happening because my best friend's not here, so that's what I need. And then I phoned, funnily enough, Amy's sister Mia, who is my son's godmother, her old sister, and I phoned and said, can you just come and get Reg please? And she was like, why, what's happened? And I said, I think Mike's died. And it was really odd, because people were like, what do you mean you think he's died? And I was like, well, the ambulance people are here now, but I think that's what's happened. But I don't know. Um, so, she came and took my son home with her. And I just remember thinking, and I sat down in my kitchen, and My friend Eleanor arrived and she said, do you want a glass of wine? And I was like, yeah, yeah, that's exactly what I want right now. I'm going to have a glass of wine. And I drank a bottle of wine. I'm going to say in about seven minutes, like I drank it like it was actual water.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

yeah. Anything to just

Jen Plant:

I didn't, it was something to do.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

nothing.

Jen Plant:

Yeah, and just something to like, okay, well here's, here's a way to cope, which is ridiculous, but that's what I had in my head. And then the ambulance people kept popping down to ask questions. They were like, is he on any medication? Um, is it, uh, you know, has he got any history of this? And I thought, well, perhaps he's not dead because they're asking an awful lot of questions and they've been up there a really long time. And then more ambulance people turned up. So at one point at this sort of big L shaped sofa in my kitchen, and at one point it was completely full up with people of like, there were about four ambulance people. Um, and it was, and, and me and my friend, and I was just kind of sat there drinking wine and they were asking me all sorts of questions and, Oh, how long have you been married? But I'm thinking, this is just.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Why do they need to know all this? Yeah.

Jen Plant:

one of the ambulance drivers was talking about, I can't remember what it was, but she had some sort of problem and she was saying, Oh, I'm having a nightmare at the moment because blah, blah, blah. And I was thinking, yeah, but my husband's dead, like just upstairs. Like, why, why are we talking about that? It was just odd. Um, and then they eventually came downstairs, a lady came down and she said, Oh, I'm sorry to tell you that your husband has passed away. And I kind of went, yeah, okay, like, sure. Like, that's what I was expecting. And then she said, so we have to call the police. Because he's died at home, unexpectedly. So I was like, oh right, yeah, mm, yeah. So then the police came, and so now we've got four ambulance drivers and two police. And then they called the undertakers, and there were two of them. So then the two undertakers turned up. So it was like a party in my kitchen, with all these people. Um, and then the ambulance driver said, Oh, what we've done is we've laid him on the bed, if you want to come and spend some time with him. And my first thought was, I literally changed the bedding the day before, like it was lovely fresh bedding and I was thinking and you've put a dead body on my clean bed and and they were like do you want to come and spend time with him and I was like no I really I don't want to lay with a dead body on my bed that's my oh okay um and I was like great I can't I can't

Rosie Gill-Moss:

it funny where your brain goes? You know, that you're, your husband's like, you're thinking, Oh, I changed that bloody bedding yesterday.

Jen Plant:

you've put a dead body on it. I'm going to have to do it again, which is odd. Um, and then the police asked if they could interview my son. And thankfully, my friend Eleanor, her husband's a murder detective.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Oh wow, okay.

Jen Plant:

said, um, you don't have to give permission for that. And I was like, okay, good. Like, so no, you can't talk to my son about this. It's bad enough. You can talk to me. And then I found myself saying really random things. Like, I was going, well, I've been out all day. It's nothing to do with me. You can check our ring doorbell. I definitely wasn't, you know, like, and, and, like, at no point was anyone accusing me of anything nefarious, but in my head, I was like, no, no, no, you can check the doorbell. Like, I've just got home. I've been with my, I've been with my friend Eleanor. Eleanor, haven't I been with you?

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah.

Jen Plant:

Um, And then the undertakers kind of took him away and they gave me a card saying this is where he'll be. And they kept talking about him like he was alive. They were like, we'll look after him, um, and if you want to come and see him. And I was thinking, that's just odd. That's just a really odd thing. Okay, and then, um, my other friend, Andy, arrived because my, because then Eleanor was going to go and tell my mum and she said, like, we can't phone your mum and because obviously I've been with Mike for 23 years and my mum's an old lady and so she was like, I'm going to go. And then we also had to tell my husband's.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Oh

Jen Plant:

like, I'm going to phone their mum, do you have her number? Because they can't be told over the phone, but I can tell her and she can go and tell them. I was like, yeah. So she was brilliant. But then she had to go and tell my mum, which would have left me in this massive house all by myself. And the house that was full of like, there were the tracks of the trolley from the ambulance. They'd left loads of blankets and like bits all over the floor. Like it just, it looked like a crime scene and everyone had gone.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

And it's just you.

Jen Plant:

And it was just me. So then she phoned our other friend, Andy. And she basically phoned him and said can you come and sit here while I go and do this and then I'll come back and get Jen. And so that was kind of what happened on the night. And then what is mental and part of the reason why I really wanted to do this podcast because I listened to it religiously. Like because someone recommended it and then I was like right I'm going to listen to all of these.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

And there's quite a lot now, isn't there?

Jen Plant:

which I did, yeah. But I

Rosie Gill-Moss:

fill your dog walk days.

Jen Plant:

really, it's filled up the year, it's been great. Um. After this had all happened, the following day, I got a phone call from my husband's work to say we're very sorry to hear. I'd started phoning people, you know you have to make a

Rosie Gill-Moss:

have to, um

Jen Plant:

phoning people and then one of those people we knew through Mike's work, and he was a CEO of a company, he earned a lot of money. And he's had a very, very big job. And, um, they phoned me the day after and just sort of said thoughts and prayers, thoughts and prayers. And I said, what do I do for money? Like, because I'm a teacher, you know, and I've got this big house and this big life and I can't pay for it. And, um, they said, oh, yeah, you know, sorry, obviously, real shame, but there's no death in service. And, um, obviously we're, we're going to stop paying him as of today. And I was like, Oh, um, okay, well, can you explain to me how that works? And they were like, Oh, well, yeah, because, you know, there wasn't death in service. Um, funnily enough, it was Mike's job to sort out and he hadn't, um, a colleague of his had died of cancer about a year before and his wife hadn't been left with anything. And he had basically convinced some of the partners to put some money towards this woman and her kids. And then he had said to me, I'm going to sort out death in service. Um, but he hadn't sorted it out. And they basically said, well, we're not going to And then they said, as only very, very rich people can do, they said, um, Well, now's not the time to worry about money. And I was like, oh, no, but it is. It is. the time to worry about money. I literally, I'm all on my own, and I've got a kid and a house, and I don't know what to do. And they were like, well, don't worry about that now. And we had, I don't know why, I still to this day don't know why, because my husband earned after tax about 11 grand a month. We had a grand in our account and that was it. And I don't really know why, I don't know what he'd spent his money on, but by the time all our bills came out there was nothing, there was nothing left. And

Rosie Gill-Moss:

can remember looking at my bank account, actually, because I was on maternity leave. And, um, we never had a shared bank account. I don't know why, I've just never done it. And, um, because all his bank accounts were kind of immediately frozen because he was missing. And I had, and I can't remember the exact figure, but it was something like 57 quid in my bank account. And I just remember thinking the same as you, like, how, what? Ben was the owner. I had a job teaching baby swimming just to kind of pocket money, you know? And. It's, you feel so mercenary, being worried about money, and you feel like people think you're this kind of grabby widow. But bills still have to be paid. Ben had a car on finance, that I didn't actually know was on finance, that cost 650 before I drove the fucking thing off the drive. Like, and they wouldn't take it back because he wasn't dead. So, legally, um,

Jen Plant:

The funny thing is, you think that if someone is dead it's more But it's, it's weirdly not so there were loads of things where, you know, and over the year I'm still making phone calls without, well, can I speak to Mr. Plant? And I'm like, no, he died. Um, but one of the first things that happened to me was when we find it, so we didn't get the death certificate for a week because he had to have a, an autopsy because it was sudden and they said it was a massive heart attack and then, and then everything can kind of start going through. So I got the death certificate. And I thought I was being very, very efficient. And I had my list of jobs every day. And my friend Mia, Amy's sister, she was brilliant. And she was, you know, like, come on, today we're doing these jobs. And I'd be like, okay. Um, and I felt poorly. I felt like I've never felt, I wasn't, I wasn't sad initially. I just felt ill. I felt like dizzy and sick. And like I was swimming through treacle. And like I just couldn't. I couldn't eat anything and I couldn't. And it's that thing where people say, try and eat something. It's like, no, it's not that I've not got an appetite, it's that I literally cannot get the, I can't, I can't chew anymore. Like it just won't go down my throat. Um, and

Rosie Gill-Moss:

to find that wine slimmed it

Jen Plant:

yes, the wine, the wine was no problem, but the food, and in the end I bought those. Like, do you know those milkshakes that are for people when they're

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Mate, I live on, um, like, uh, it's not Huel, it's another one. And I live on those because I still find it very difficult to eat. And I wish I was like a size 8 slip of a thing, but unfortunately. But I, and then I have a cook meal. You know, the ready,

Jen Plant:

yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

In the freezer of dreams, which is what I call it. So just pick something from the freezer of dreams. Because. Ever since Ben died, I've lost my interest in initially reading. I've only just started reading again fairly recently. Um, food. You know, it just ceased to bring me the joy that it used to.

Jen Plant:

Yeah.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

yeah.

Jen Plant:

And it was weird because I kind of, I'm normally someone that would be like, Ooh, lovely, and then have a bar of chocolate, but I genuinely, I couldn't eat anything in there. Anyway, I went to, so I was giving myself jobs to stop myself thinking about how awful I felt. Because then I suddenly started to think, well I can't die, because then Reg has got no one. So I've got to stay alive, but I don't know how, you know, I can't, I can't function. And I felt like, I was saying this to someone the other day, I felt like for that first couple of weeks, I was just being dragged around like a little dolly. And people were just telling me where to go and where to stand and what to do. Um, and my mum and my stepdad were brilliant, but they were kind of, They were kind of just, you know, like, right, you've, right, and what we've done is we've made you dinner, and we've looked after Reg, and we, and I was kind of, okay, thank you. I just had no capability at all. Um,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

don't you? Cause my parents moved in with me and, you know, my dad would, would do the school run. So I would often be in no fit state to drive, um, be it hung over or be it, um, you know, just devastation and yeah, I became quite reliant on the fact that. They would ensure that the kids, like my, my mom, my daughter was six months old, so my mom basically weaned her. She's El s she's exclusively wean on Ellis pick pouches because Who had time for Pureing, right?

Jen Plant:

one's peering.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

No, not past the first up. Um, and it was, I, I became like almost a teenager again, you know, like, it, it is infantilizing and everybody. I like your analogy of being like a doll. I always think, kind of like a puppet, you just sort of go through the motions doing what, what you have to, but you're not really dealing with anything that's going on inside your own head.

Jen Plant:

No, and I felt like I was doing this kind of weird Act, I was doing this, I remember saying to my counsellor at the time, I felt like people were coming to the grieving widow show, so I had kind of this, people coming to visit it to see what it looked like when someone's husband had died and then, when I went, when I took the death certificate to the registry, when I went to the registry office to get the death certificate. My friend Mia had worn black, she'd worn this lovely black coat, this black, you know, like, black boots. And I was wearing jeans and a bright pink jumper that said, Bonjour. Because my brain just hadn't thought, I'd just got up and put some clean clothes on, I hadn't really thought about it. So when we got to the registry office, the lady was like, doing all the talking to Mia, because she looked like the

Rosie Gill-Moss:

She looked like the widow.

Jen Plant:

was doing a great job of it, and I looked like, kind of, Bonjour.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

The support.

Jen Plant:

Yeah, the support person. Um, anyway, we did that, we registered the day, and then I thought, right, I'll go straight to the bank and I'll say he's died and, you know, because that's one of the things I have to do. And the bank cancelled my cards instead of his. So then when I went to pay for the funeral the day after, none of my cards worked. And I phoned the bank and the bank said, Oh, we're really sorry. Someone in branch has made a mistake and we've cancelled all of your cards. We can get new cards to you within three to five working days. But by this point it's like getting on for December and there was a postal strike, do you might not remember but there was a massive postal strike and I was like no but I don't have any money, I said I can't put petrol in my car, I can't get bus fare for my son to get to school because at this point I was thinking he'll be back at school soon, he wasn't but that was where my brain was going. I was like I can't buy any food. And then my friends, basically my friend got a Revolut card and just put some money on it and said that's for you. My other friend was like, here's a credit card you can have. My mum and dad were like, going to the cashpoint and giving me cash. But I felt really, I felt like I didn't even have control of the money. And the worst thing was, everyone assumed I was going to be some sort of very, very wealthy merry widow. But it turned out, Mike didn't have a will. He didn't have death in service. Um, he didn't have any, he didn't have any life insurance.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Oh, Mike!

Jen Plant:

I know. And he was the CEO

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Oh, Mike!

Jen Plant:

Um, so he had sorted nothing out. Because he used to say he was going to lift to 100. It was like a running joke. And it just hadn't occurred to him. Um, so I had

Rosie Gill-Moss:

they're invincible, don't they? I was actually, I have to tell you, I was gobsmacked that Ben had life insurance. And that it covers extreme sports. Because it didn't cover our mortgage, but it helped. Um, but yes, I like, like you, you know, people, I think, because I still had this nice, shiny Car on the drive in a nice

Jen Plant:

Mm.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

and people thought I must be kind of Rolling around in life insurance cash like Scrooge McDuck, but I

Jen Plant:

heard people say, at least, at least she's sorted. Well, at least

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I believe that Ben thought I would be sorted because Ben was an early adpoter of cryptos and He has quite all of our money was in crypto basically, and um when he died his Brother who doesn't listen to the podcast. So I can say this, um, offered to look after this quite substantial amount of money for me and lost a lot, which is I now realize the, the gamble of cryptocurrencies. Um, and so I,'cause I kind of remember thinking, well, if Ben had a moment before he died, at least he'd be thinking, okay, I have put aside this part of money, they'll be okay. Um, and actually there's nothing, there was, I mean, there was a bit, and I, I sold, Ben had a wood business, wood flooring business, and he had some stored in our garage. And, uh, the customer sort of awkwardly rang me and said, um, is there any chance I can buy this wood? And I just sort of said, well, you can, but, and I HMRC come after me if they want. But I, they, I just said, you're gonna have to give me cash though. Cause I have, and so there I am selling wood panels out of my garage because you do what you gotta do to put managed food on the table.

Jen Plant:

I sold loads of stuff from the garage. Um, I, but there were things that were annoying, like we'd had a holiday booked for the following Easter, and I called Tui and said, can I just have my money back? I think we've paid two grand towards it. But they'd only put it back on Mike's credit card, which had already been cancelled. Um. So I may as well have gone on that holiday. Um, there were, he had ordered himself a, uh, he loved gadgets. He had ordered himself a thing that converted a bike into a, an electric bike. And that arrived and it was about 800 quid. And if I sent it back, then the company would just go back on his credit card. So I went on a Facebook group and said, Does anyone want this for 500 quid?

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yes, I was the same. I had a lot of dive kit and stuff in the garage, um,

Jen Plant:

Hmm.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I initially, you know, that superhuman strength you get sometimes. I was literally like throwing the tanks around, like just furiously raging. Um, and I actually gave away a lot of his stuff because we, I moved in lockdown and I just had to get rid of stuff. I just remember putting it all on my drive, just saying, come and get it. And now I think, Oh, should I have kept some? Some of his, like, his really random toolbox and stuff.

Jen Plant:

Yeah.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

in that moment, you just have to, I mean, you know, I don't know there's as much of a market for middle aged mums only fans, but you know, if it had come to it, that's what you'd have to do, right?

Jen Plant:

genuinely, we're thinking about what can I, because I've got, you know, I'm a deputy head. That's a pretty good job. That's it. But what it isn't, and this is what I was trying to say to people, is it's our life is based on someone who runs a law firm, who's married to a

Rosie Gill-Moss:

It's not

Jen Plant:

It's not based, yeah,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

You know, no matter how well paid or brilliant these jobs are in education, they never going to bring home salaries like that.

Jen Plant:

Um, so it took a really, and in the end I had to get a, because, and then he had a pension, but because he didn't have a will, it wasn't automatically mine, though, and I assumed if you'd been married for 20 years, but no, um, you still has to go through a process. Um, we also had the one thing that, you know, when you get a mortgage, you have to get that cover for if one of you dies, the mortgage gets paid.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah, I don't know how we got away with that. I think it was tied to our old mortgage from our

Jen Plant:

Oh, maybe, yeah.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I still can't figure out why the, how he got away with taking out less than the house, unless it was what the house was worth.

Jen Plant:

It could be.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

cover the mortgage. I don't understand that

Jen Plant:

Well no, because it is for an amount, because it was really interesting. Mine was for an amount, and actually that was more than was left on the mortgage, but it was only the amount, so obviously if it had been less, I think that can happen. But, even then, I like, and you know how like the banks go, there are adverts on the radio, if you're having trouble paying your mortgage, just call us. I phoned the bank and said, look, my husband's just died, I just need a couple of months, I don't know what's happening, and they were like, oh no, you need to keep paying it.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

See, this is terrible.

Jen Plant:

So everything I tried, um, and my husband was a really private person as well, so I'd never, I don't know the password to his iPhone, I didn't know the password to his computers. All of our bills were not on paper. So at one point, I spent one afternoon, a fun afternoon, phoning every single insurance company saying, hello, is my house insured with you? And going through the same thing over and over again. Because he did, he did, we'd, we always had this relationship where he would just take care of things. And I was just like, okay. And even though I'm a perfectly capable person, it was always, that's what he

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Well you divide and conquer, don't you? You take on certain aspects of running a home. And I'm the same, and you probably have heard this already, so I'm probably repeating myself, but I, like you, didn't find out that Ben was, and your friend, I didn't find out that Ben had died until many hours later and I feel a huge resentment.

Jen Plant:

Hmm.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Same day I stood in the school playground, uh, waiting for the boys, you know, baby in the pram, still living my happy life. And as you do, just jokingly sort of went, oh gosh, you know, I don't even know who we pay our electric and gas with. Like if Ben dropped dead tomorrow, I wouldn't have any clue where to start. And the irony of that is obviously not lost on me now,

Jen Plant:

yeah.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

but I was the same. I had, I did have his pin to his phone, so I was able to access his phone, but come on, I can't remember it now for the love of money. Um, and I was. You know, I, I, everything was kind of put into hiatus until I got the death certificate. But I do remember this feeling of making these calls and just constantly having to repeat your story and tell people what happened. Um, and this, the death admin is, is ridiculous.

Jen Plant:

it was a, it was a full time job and I remember in the end there was a charity Who was sort of affiliated with, with, with, um, with firms of lawyers effectively. And someone who worked for Mike basically said, contact these people. And I contacted them and just said, look, I don't know what to do. I can't pay my mortgage. Basically everything I'd been told was going to take at least six months. And I was like, I don't, our mortgage was two and a half thousand pounds a month. And I earned three thousand pounds a month at the time. So I've just thought, I dunno what I'm gonna do. And I felt, and I, I've sent an email to this charity saying that I feel men, you know, I feel mental about this, but can you help? And they said, yeah, we'll send you six months mortgage money. So they sent me a check for 15 grand and if

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Oh wow.

Jen Plant:

I dunno what I'd have done. Um.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

goodness.

Jen Plant:

And then my mum said to me, do you know about widow's benefit? And I was like, no, I don't. And then we looked into it and I could get, I think it was like two and a half thousand pounds lump sum and then 350 quid a month.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah, not really enough to raise a child, is it? I, if you, if Ben had died two months sooner, all three of my children, I would have received money for them until they were 18.

Jen Plant:

Oh, wow.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

The law changed two months prior. So, yeah, I know. But I also know that then it can affect if you have to, um, take on any other benefits for any other reasons, it can affect that. So it can almost have a, uh,

Jen Plant:

Detrimental. Yeah.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

detriment, that's the word. Thank you. Um,

Jen Plant:

It's my, it's a habit.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Oh, you teach English. Oh, wow. Yeah. That's my favorite subject. And my, my son's favorite subject too. Um, but you, sorry, my brain dropped out. It's cause we went onto a different subject.

Jen Plant:

it's my

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Oh, no, no, it's me. Uh, so one, two, three, we're just going to go back in one, two, three. Yeah. So it's, it's, it's things like, um, the, the kindness or knowing charities to approach that might be able to help you. I mean, actually my dad, who is a former journalist, so he's quite persistent, both my parents were journalists, so they're pretty persistent. And they decided CEO of each company that I owed money to. Why mortgage car, blah, blah, blah. And the mortgage company gave me a. I think they gave me a hiatus for a couple of months and then they put me on to interest only, which just took the payments right down. And so I was. I was able to sort of muddle through and I met with a benefits, um, advisor because I'd, I'd never claimed benefits and because I was now technically running this wood company, I was able to pay myself, um, for the relevant hours and claim benefits. And, you know, it's something that there's a shame attached too often. Um, but for me in that moment, it saved me. I was able to work around the children. I was able to be there when they needed me to be picked to pick them up. I was there a day at school. And. You know, they were, they were little. They were 7, uh, sorry, 7, 5, and 6 months. They needed me. And I am grateful that I was able to do that. But it's knowing the right places to look. I mean, I, Widow, um, Payment, I didn't know about that. My dad found out about that. And you only have a year to claim it or something stupid as well, don't you? It's, um,

Jen Plant:

was my, and that's the thing, my mum and dad were gonna have, my mum and step dad were like, what about this, what about that, what about that, and I was like, oh God, yeah, like, okay. But again, it kind of, I would have like, had this big folder and I'd just sit at my kitchen table With this big folder and the phone and I'd be on hold for an hour and a half to various people and I'd get and that was my job and I remember saying to my boss, I didn't go back to work until the beginning of January and that whole kind of up to Christmas. I said, I'm working full time. I'm literally work. I mean, what I'm actually doing is waking up really hungover. And I'm getting out of my pyjamas at about 11 o'clock and then I'm sitting at that table and doing admin until about six o'clock and then by the time everything closes I went through a phase of, I couldn't be in the house on my own. I couldn't be in the house, just me and Reg. I was convinced that I was going to die and he'd have to deal with all of that again. I felt really fragile. I needed lots of people around me all of the time, just to function. And it was funny because I'd, like, my friends had started, like, they'd get into a rhythm of, like, handing me over. So, like, friends who didn't know each other. Um, like, my friend Gemma and my friend Vasa, they don't really know each other. But Gemma would be like, well, I can stay until Saturday at two o'clock. And then Vassa would go, well, I'll arrive at one. And then Eleanor would be, well, I can come on Sunday. And I couldn't sleep in my bedroom. Because, because there was this, you know, dead body there. And so I slept in a spare room. Up, actually, funnily, up until the point I had people staring, I suddenly realised there wasn't quite enough space. And that I needed to I'd have to sleep in my bed and I did and I hated it. And I basically got very, very, very, very drunk and passed out in bed. And then as soon as I woke up, kind of sprung out of bed, but got used to it in the end. And when the funeral happened, which was on the 12th of December, by the time the funeral came, I think it was after the funeral, I slept in my bed again. Um, so it wasn't a huge amount of time. Um, and the funeral was, the funeral was interesting because it was, All of those people were under the impression that Mike and I were perfect. Everyone was like, how's she gonna cope, because they were perfect. And I'm quite prolific on Facebook, I'm a nightmare for it, I'm a bit of a show off. And we would go to lots of nice places, and we would go on lots of holidays, and we would have these date nights that looked incredible. And so, like, someone even commented on Facebook saying, Oh, I've always enjoyed watching you guys, like

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Mm, yes. Yeah.

Jen Plant:

Um, and that we just appeared to be perfect. We've been married for such a long time, you know, 20 years and, you know, still having sex and still having a laugh and, you know, what a great couple they are.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

You're like this aspirational couple.

Jen Plant:

kind of, like not, I'm not, I'm, you know, I promise I'm not a dickhead. It makes me sound like a dickhead, but

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I don't, I don't think you're a dickhead. I wouldn't, I wouldn't be talking to you.

Jen Plant:

We used to say that we'd like, we used to talk about moral offsetting, where I had a really good and noble job and Mike had a really well paid job, so between us, we were, you know, like Effectively the perfect couple, you know, there's something for everyone there and, and, um, and we weren't perfect, but that was everyone's perception of us and, and I really felt it at the, I did like a photo montage thing for the wake, you know how you do and it's on a big screen, and I was looking at the photographs thinking that does look like the perfect life, but it wasn't, and as soon as Mike had been dead for about, I think he'd been dead about six weeks, just after Christmas, And I suddenly realised that I felt lighter, felt like there was a weight off my shoulders. I suddenly felt like I could do what I liked. And I spoke to my counsellor and I said, um, Oh, it's really weird. I feel really good at the moment. I feel really like I can do what I like. And she said, well, you were in a very controlling marriage. And I said, No, I wasn't. And she said, No, you were. And she said, It wasn't the right time for me to talk to you about it, because you were working through it yourself, and you were coming to that conclusion. But, you had been apologetic for 23 years. You'd had like a parent child relationship where he told you what to do, and you did it. And you were effectively his trophy, his kind of like, I reel out my lovely wife, and there she is. Um, and you didn't have an equal relationship and you were bullied, you were bullied all the time. And I said, oh no, but he was a really great man and he was a really great dad. And my counsellor said, okay, in what way was he a great dad? And I said, oh well, you know, he provided for us and this and that. And she said, yeah, but then he'd been dead about five hours and your son didn't notice. And I was like, oh, yeah. I said, but you know, he was busy on his PlayStation. And she kind of said, sure. But that was a Sunday that they had together. And as far as Reg was concerned, it was perfectly normal that they'd be in separate rooms doing totally separate things. And I thought, yeah, okay. Um, but I was still a bit like, oh, come on. You know, don't be silly. And then as time kind of wore on, in kind of January and February, And I started to realise that I felt a lot of shock about what had happened and a lot of sadness about the fact that Reg didn't have a dad anymore. And I felt sad that, I felt sad for Mike. I felt like that's really sad for him that he just died because he was, you know, worked so hard and then he just died and he didn't get to retire and he didn't get to do all these fun things. But I thought, God, I don't miss him. And I started to really try. So I started to, like, get out photographs and

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Sad music.

Jen Plant:

and put sad music on and watch And I just couldn't make myself sad because overriding me, I just had this feeling of, Oh, I can be myself now. And if I, and then when I thought about it, I thought, God, I actually have never been myself. I was 19. I met this man. He was more exciting and glamorous than me. And I made myself the version of myself. that I thought he would want. And I hadn't stopped in 23 years to think, well actually, what am I like? And it was really interesting, one of his best friends, Rich, came round about a week or so after he died and I was telling an anecdote about something and Rich said, wow, do you know this is the first time in 23 years I've heard you tell a story without someone correcting you? And I thought, Oh God, and that's one of Mike's friends and he, and I was like, Oh yeah, sure. And then I noticed that like, I dressed differently to how I dressed then. And, um, you know, like Mike would like be like, I don't want your hair too blonde. And so I'd be like, Oh, okay, I'll darken it a bit. Or he'd say, um, you know, you really should think about getting back to the gym.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Mm.

Jen Plant:

I, and I hadn't noticed it, but then when it was gone, when it was all removed and I suddenly thought, well, what do I want to wear or what do I want to do? Um, so I kind of felt this sense of like, okay, well I'm, you know, and I remember friends saying to me, well, it's probably not hit you yet. Cause I kept saying to my friends, I feel all right. I feel really okay. And they were like, well, cause it's not hit you yet. And I was like, no, I think it did hit me. I think I was sad, but I didn't expect by January, February time to feel okay. I've still got PTSD. I'm still, like, if I come home and I can't find anyone, I assume they've died. I'm still not great with driving, because Amy died in a car accident, and I wasn't great with that. Then I got out of the habit of driving, and I'm still a bit like, I'll do it, but I hate it.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I don't, I'm, I don't love driving actually. Um. I, I, same, I'll do it. But, um.

Jen Plant:

I'll do it, but to somewhere close. If it's a motorway job, I'm like, no, we'll,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I mean, I will do it, but it's. If John's around, I know, then he'll do it.

Jen Plant:

Exactly that. Um, and yeah, and I just, I kept waiting for this. I kept waiting for this kind of, I felt it's really difficult because there was something that was said on your podcast, right? And I can't remember who said it. It might've been you. It might've been one of your guests. And someone said that, that it's perfectly okay for, for me to have been the love of Mike's life, but for him not to have been the love of mine.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah.

Jen Plant:

And I suddenly realized that At the point that he died, I didn't love him anymore. There had been a time he had been my great love. And I think he still felt that way about me when he died. But I didn't feel that way about him because I'd grown up, and I wasn't this 19 year old who was, and I'd become my own person. And so all of a sudden I felt this kind of sense of freedom, which I then felt horribly guilty about. But then I started to notice it in my son, and my son got a lot more talkative and he started, and I suddenly thought, and obviously he loved his dad so much, but I suddenly thought, Oh God, I think you're slightly better for it just being me and you, you know, we're not, and we kind of got into this routine where it was the two of us and we were okay. And I noticed that we were, you know, that thing where, you know, someone's deity like I'm going to spend what little money I have on going to Legoland

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah. I'm gonna make their life perfect. They're gonna want for

Jen Plant:

the best time. Um, and I was doing that with friends and noticing that. I didn't have that feeling of, I used to always have this eggshell feeling of I'm getting it wrong, I'm getting it wrong, I'm getting it wrong. I'm not a very good mum, I'm not a very good wife. And I suddenly was kind of, felt really confident that I was a good mum and I felt really confident that I was a good friend. And I felt like people wanted to hang out with me and I'd, I'd lost kind of the kind of paranoia of, Oh God, you know, these people, you know, like, Michael, as you say, you're a bit loud or, you know, you're a bit, you know, over the top then. And I'd think, Oh God, I thought I was being funny. Okay.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Oh

Jen Plant:

And so without that voice in my ear, I felt like a completely different person. And, I realised that where we lived was in the middle of nowhere, and I realised I didn't want to live in the middle of nowhere, and that's not, that's not me, that's not who I am, I like being in the middle of stuff. Um, and I put the house on the market. And then realised that we lived in this really expensive area, in this massive house, that I hated, like, I had a genuine hatred, you know, Mike had died there, I'd found out Amy had died there, it was too big, it wasn't very me, at all, I like old stuff, and I like, um, I like, I like weird things, and I like

Rosie Gill-Moss:

my god, you have to come to my house. There's so much weird stuff in my house.

Jen Plant:

what I'm

Rosie Gill-Moss:

16th century, there's some very odd stuff.

Jen Plant:

Mine's still new because I was like, but my new house is on a river and there's boats and there's stuff and it's a two minute walk to a gin distillery and a five minute walk to a cinema and, and it's in the middle of things and I realized that's who I am. Um, and I sort of, it feels really awful, but sometimes I feel like I have more in common with someone who's divorced.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

yes, I understand that. I can sort of hear that.

Jen Plant:

And I kind of, every now and again, I will refer to Mike as my ex husband, because when you say to someone you're late husband, in their mind, that's like, oh my god, how very sad for you. And it was really sad. This is the thing that's difficult. It was the worst thing that's ever happened. I will never be sadder than when Amy died. So I was already like, it's okay, the worst thing that could ever happen to me has happened. So I kind of, but also. Because of that, I've got to live the life that I think I, that I wanted to live. Um, and that's sad, and that is awful. And Mike didn't believe in afterlife at all, he thought it was all bollocks. And if he had, if he, if he did, I might even feel more guilty about it. But, he didn't believe in that, he didn't think that would happen. And, when I got together with my partner now, um, I, I think, It was probably, so he was, it was my friend Andy who was friends with me and Eleanor and he'd split up from his kind of long term girlfriend and He has a daughter who's seven, and it would always be on the weeks he has her seven days on and seven days off. And on the weekends he had her, I'd always say, Well, if you and Matilda are doing this, do you want to come and do this with me and Reg? Because it sort of seemed like, uh, you're on

Rosie Gill-Moss:

in numbers, right?

Jen Plant:

Yeah, and also, I don't like to drive. And, um, And I don't like doing stuff on my own. I still had that thing of like, what if something happens to me and, you know, Um, so we started kind of doing stuff with the kids and it was like, well, we'll do this and we'll do that, blah, blah, blah. And, um, so when we got together, which was kind of officially around Easter time, a lot of people thought I was terrible because they were like, oh my God, it's been six months and, you know, that's really soon and blah, blah, blah. Um, but I just thought. No, I've met someone who makes me really happy, and you could drop dead tomorrow. Happened to Amy, happened to Mike. So, I just thought, well, that's, you know, that's lovely, and I don't really care what people think. Um, and then we bought

Rosie Gill-Moss:

for you, actually, though, for being brave enough to have that attitude, because I know that I was so terrified when I came out as being in a relationship, because, um, and you do feel like that you kind of, your public property, we talk about this quite a lot, and everybody has got an opinion. Um, John and I got together within a year of Sarah dying, and that, he still loves Sarah, but It, we met, it felt right, and Look at us now, you know it works

Jen Plant:

And what's the point of being on your own and sad?

Rosie Gill-Moss:

no. And what's the point of letting life pass you by now, I'm just gonna quickly bring you the soulmate thing. So the, I interviewed, um, a really amazing Canadian lady called Laurie recently, and she said, you have to let go of the soulmate thing. The idea that there's only one should, your soulmate might be your friend, it could be an animal. You could have lots of soulmates. And the way that you talk about Amy, like she was your soulmate. I lost my best friend, um, when he was 23, yeah, suddenly, and, um, he was my, um, yeah, he was my best friend. He was a wonderful chap called, funnily enough, called John, um, um, and so, although it was many years ago, you know, I do, I miss him desperately, um. And this idea that you're, that you were perhaps the love of Mike's life, but perhaps you still have more love to give and perhaps he wasn't your person in the end, because to go from, um, 19 to Derek, can I ask how old you are

Jen Plant:

43 now.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Oh, I'm 42, same sort of age. Um, I am certainly not the same person I was at 19 and I'm very, I mean, I'm not the same person I was five, six years ago, but it. You, you kind of grow up together, but you can grow in different directions. And I feel really sad that I have a much older boyfriend. I was 17 actually, and he was 28 and we spent about three years together and he was incredibly controlling of me. Um, and I really kind of created this persona to fit in and, you know, would go out, he liked me to wear really skimpy kind of going out outfits and then would call me a slag. That sort of thing. So yeah, he was lovely. Um, and he, um, you know, he was, he got a pretty bad cocaine habit and things. And I, I, I don't know what became of him. This is so long ago, but it's a kind of, I wonder what would have happened if we'd stayed together, you know, like how, cause you are, even though you say yourself, you were quite a grown up 19 year old, you were still

Jen Plant:

I was still 19. And also I think it's that, I think that 19 year old me needed someone like that. I needed someone solid and dependable. You know, my parents had got divorced. My mum's third husband was a bit of a one and it was quite, you know, and I'd left home when I was 18 because of that. And she's now remarried to my stepdad. He's the loveliest man in

Rosie Gill-Moss:

So your mum might have been married four times.

Jen Plant:

yeah. Mm hmm. She's brilliant. She's like, I just believe in marriage, Jenny. I'm like, okay.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I love her.

Jen Plant:

But yeah, she, um, you know, we had this kind of, I think I needed like a dad, almost. I needed like a really solid person. Um, and it wasn't Light's fault that I grew out of that, but I just wasn't doing anything about it. I knew I was really unhappy. As soon as Amy had died, I knew I was really unhappy. But I wasn't doing anything about it. I was just kind of stuck in this kind of, Oh, but we've got this stable house and I've got this perfect life. And I kept believing my own hype. I kept thinking, well, I can't leave because I've got this perfect life. And it kind of, once everything got completely screwed up and everything was a disaster and it was, you know, I wish Mike was alive. I wish we'd got divorced. I wish Reg could go and see him at the weekends. I'm sure we'd have got on really well because we always did get on really well. Um, But that wasn't to be. But that means I can't kind of fake the sad. I can't be like, you know, I can't, people can't come and see the Grieving Widow show because it's not, it's not on anymore.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Not available.

Jen Plant:

And when I met Andy, I found it really difficult because he and I have got loads in common in terms of like, when we get annoyed, you know, like, oh, my ex used to blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And both of us, when we got together, we said, we were both like, we've got a rescue cat called Lily. Whenever you walk into a room, she acts like you're going to murder her. Even though, we never do. Um,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I'm glad you clarified.

Jen Plant:

first got together, we used to say we're both like Lily the cat. Like, I'm apologizing and saying, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry if I've got that wrong. He was a bit like that too, because of the way things were in our relationships before. And I think that, but it's an awkward one, because Mike has died, so he's not an ex. So. When we first got together, there were loads of pictures of Mike up in the house, which is obviously because that's Reggie's dad, and of course, but there was still our wedding picture up. And at what point in your new relationship do you say, I'm going to take down this wedding picture? Um, you know, we've got the fact that I've got two stepchildren, and two stepgrandchildren, and

Rosie Gill-Moss:

yeah, oh gosh.

Jen Plant:

Hmm. Because they're in, because they're in their thirties, so it kind of makes sense, right? But, that's really difficult, because obviously, from, You know, what do I do with my, you know, with my stepchildren, obviously I've seen them, but, as in, Andy can't be part of that, or certainly he doesn't feel like he can, and they don't feel like they want him to either, and that's really awkward. Um, when it's an ex, you're allowed to slag them off, when it's someone that died, you can't. You know,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

No, and they become a little bit canonised, don't they? And it's, it's um, It's quite easy, almost, to only ever talk about the positives of the person that's died. And, because you don't, you don't want to speak ill of the dead. And I'm, my relationship with Ben was solid, and it was, it was very, very good. But, you know, there were times in our relationship, you know, I had terrible postnatal depression after our second child, and his dad died. And we struggled. It depends on where you are in your relationship at the time, particularly if you have a sudden death. You know, when I, uh, when Ben first died, a very nice German woman reached out to me through a friend and she had had a row with her husband and he'd driven off driving too fast and so the last words were a row and I thought, Oh God, you know, that at least that, and you find yourself comparing your grief, like, Oh gosh, at least that didn't happen.

Jen Plant:

Oh, yeah.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

But I feel like you. Have kind of got this really complex grief because you probably don't really identify as a widow. And my lovely friend, Tash, who you may have heard her episode. Um, she is very angry with her late husband because she found out a lot of things about him after he died. And so she feels that she doesn't identify as a widow, but she's not divorced. And it, it does add a complication.

Jen Plant:

does. I think the thing that's really difficult is that there are lots of things I never got to say. I think one of the things I'm really, you know, you talked about how, where you think, oh well at least there was that. From my point of view, we'd had a really nice last weekend. We'd had a really good Friday night and a really good Saturday night and we were getting on really well. And so I'm glad that he died thinking everything's okay. It wasn't okay, but he definitely died thinking it's all right. Um, he, and I think that it's complicated for me because, whereas with Amy, I, I never, I didn't fall out of love with her, you know, she died and she was my best friend and still to this day I think, oh I'd just text her, like I would text her to say I'm doing this and she'd be like, why do you think people want to listen to you? And she'd be like, she, she's my, my best person. Um, I don't have that with Mike and what's really difficult is I'm still really sad about Amy but no one cares about that because best friend doesn't have the cachet of being a widow. So.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

No, you're right, it doesn't, and yet it's such an

Jen Plant:

I still want to tell people about Amy. I still want to shout from the rooftops how much she was the best per, like the best woman to ever live. She, she never met Andy and she would have loved him, like she just would have

Rosie Gill-Moss:

And she would have supported

Jen Plant:

And then, and she'd have said, because one of the people that's not, her sister Mia hasn't really seen me and doesn't want to meet Andy and she finds the whole thing. Um, she's basically in poor taste and she says, you know, I can't, it's too soon, blah, blah, blah. Um,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I can't bear this, I really can't bear this, it really, really gets up my nose, because how do they know how you feel, and why do they want, why would anybody want to deny somebody happiness?

Jen Plant:

I think it's,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

we're not performing poodle, we don't have to do the widow dance

Jen Plant:

think it's an ego thing. I think everybody likes to think that when they die, they'll leave such a big hole and no one will get

Rosie Gill-Moss:

That nobody can replace them.

Jen Plant:

And I think the only people that have really had a bad reaction to Andy and I being together has actually been Amy's family, so Amy's mum and Amy's sister who I was very close to. And I think that's because in their mind, if I've moved on from Michael already, I've moved on from Amy, that everyone, you know, it's almost that idea of I've got to just start my life again, but Amy, Amy hasn't. We would, you know, literally we were two since we were little. And I think, I think that's it. I think that. It's interesting because none of, as far as I know, none of Andy's friends and family have found it peculiar. Actually, none of my really close friends or my family, my parents are really like, he seems like a lovely guy. Everyone's been really happy for us. Where it's odd are things like when we bought this house. Um, And I was having to phone up Sky and say, look, I need to cancel, but it's not in my name, it was in my late husband's name, and I'll get you the death certificate. And then having to say, and I'm moving in with my new partner, and this is his name. Like, in moments like that, but then I think that, in that first eight weeks after Mike died, I think that felt like about ten years. And I think that it's very difficult, I think it's frustrating when people judge, having not realised that time moves differently when someone dies. I think that the last year feels like five minutes and ten years. Um.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I, yeah, I can totally, totally relate to that. And there also is this, excuse me, this, this condition called widow's fire, which means that you do seek physical comfort and the reassurance that you are still a sexual Being, um, and oh God, my, I don't think my mom and dad listen anymore. But you know, for John and I, it started off very much as he was my friend. He was a widow and my friend, and he was, you know, a safe person to talk to. He knows everything about me. And then one night I got pissed and smugged him and it, it happened. And yeah, I'm sure there were some judgments, but I'm. Why would anybody wish for me to be powering through this with three small children on my own when I could be doing it with my best friend? And, and Yeah, it's, it's a very peculiar action, but I think you're absolutely right, I think it is the fear of being forgotten, and I repeat this, this analogy quite a lot, so forgive me if I'm boring people, but it's the idea that I, I have now, I now have four children, um, who I love equally. Now, I, I, I, Tell them who's my favorite each day because, um, you know, one of them has been particularly nice, but I, I didn't stop loving Monty when I had Hector and I didn't stop loving Hector when I had Tabitha and I grew extra space in my heart for my stepdaughter. So it's. It's, it's a bit like that. You can, the human heart is pretty flexible, you know, like, and, and where I went from being in a very loving relationship into another relationship, which is bizarrely slightly more common. Often if people have a slightly more dysfunctional relationship or there's a bit more anger, it can take them longer to move on because they're scared of having that happen again. But do you know what? I think, I mean, I think all power to you, my love. I think fantastic. You, you grab onto this next. chapter of your life and you run with it because you don't know what's coming around the corner and you've lost three people suddenly, I've lost two people suddenly. And I can, so if I text my parents and they don't text back. Like they will, I'm, they're dead,

Jen Plant:

yeah, definitely. Yeah.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

And, um, you know, John was driving. Yeah. This is going back to when we first started dating and he was driving back from the airport. He'd been, um, over to Switzerland on a business trip and he had people in the car. So he normally, he might have sent me a sneaky text and just said, yeah, I'm on my way, but he didn't really feel it was appropriate. And in the end I just like rang him and I'm a bit like a psychopath. I'm like,

Jen Plant:

Yeah,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I'll text. Sometimes I text my oldest kid, you know, because that's how you operate with a teen, right? And he lives on the top floor, his bedroom's on the top floor. And I won't be like, are you alive? It's just, it's so stupid.

Jen Plant:

It's really stupid but, it's that kind of, how on earth how on earth are you supposed to like, I think that one of the, one of the key things I found from terrible things happening like last year was a terrible, terrible year is that all of that sadness has to then has to be counterbalanced. So all of that terrible that happened ultimately has made me appreciate everything I've got now. And some of that terrible that happened was the fact that Mike died and that Amy died. Some of that terrible that happened was the day I cried in my kitchen because I thought my marriage is over and I don't know what to do. And all of that sadness means that now, when this morning Andy was playing um, 80s cartoon theme tunes. He was literally playing, like, Thundercats and Inspector Gadget on the Alexa speakers because he was like this one's a great one. Um, and really making me laugh. That's, that's the, that's the payback, that's the joy. Like, I can absolutely appreciate that now because there have been times that are really awful and what I find interesting is that I think there are people that like to wallow. I think there are people that like to be in grief for a long time and I, I'm sure they don't like to, but that's just their, their character. But like, Reg was the same as me. We got to New Year's Day and Reg went, right, that's that done with now. Come on. And he was like, I'm okay now. Because I'm not that kind of person. There's only a certain, I don't, I don't want to feel sad. No one wants to feel sad. But I'm one of those people where if I get the flu, I think, no, if I just like, mind over matter, if I just start pottering around, it'll go away. Um, I broke my collarbone and they said it'll be 12 weeks. And can, I can deal with this in six. So I kind of, and although you can't cheat grief and you can't outrun grief, I do think you can make a decision to look for the happy.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah, it's this decision that we, we talk about this as well. The decision of whether you're going to be miserable or happy. Because, I know people that are 10 years in and are still stuck in that, um, very, yeah, for want of a better word, kind of wallowing phase. And whilst I would never judge someone for the way they grieve, what a waste.

Jen Plant:

Yeah. And also like my friend Eleanor said, and it's a really funny thing, before Mike died at the age I am now, at the age we are now, you've gotta think how many good looking years you've got left. Alright? And we, remember we were sat and we were going like, How many good looking years do you think you've got left? And we were going, oh, 47 is probably right. And like, we decided like, as a formula. And It's not even, I mean that's kind of a joke, but it's that kind of, how many years are you going to be able to go to things with your kids and join in with it, with them? Um, how many years are you going to be able to travel to exciting places and the insurance not be too much? How many years are you going to have where you can stay up till 3am drinking and then function a little bit the next day? You know, like, how many years are you going to, and I've passed that now. Turns out two glasses of wine, I've fallen asleep and I don't feel

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Oh, I'm fully sober, mate. I drank myself into full alcoholism when Ben died. I had no choice. It had to go. Um, yeah, I've been sober, clean sober, nearly two years now. So yeah, March the 6th, I think it'll be. So it's not nearly, actually it's not nearly two

Jen Plant:

Oh, that's very

Rosie Gill-Moss:

still quite a way to go. But I keep thinking, I've passed the 18 month space. I don't think I'll ever pick up. I, I, I can never say never because I don't, I don't know what. You know, what the future holds, but I, I, I can say with my hand on my heart now that I won't ever pick up an alcoholic drink, but you, you don't know what's around the corner.

Jen Plant:

No, and I think, and I used to be one of those people where I was fitness, fitness, and dry January, and I'd like, try and be, and definitely, I drank, wait, for three months, I don't think I was broadly, well, until I went back to work, I was literally starting to drink in the mid afternoon.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah, I get the school run done and then because I had to drive on the school run and then that was it.

Jen Plant:

Yeah, but I think that, and I think that's true of most people, that's kind of how you cope, isn't it? But I think that, there are, what I didn't want to do was end up like one of those old ladies where it's like, well, you know, like, like, like, like Mike's mum, where her husband died when she was 50, and she just never got over it, and then she became a little old lady, sat in a chair, she was an alcoholic, she'd just literally sit and drink and smoke in her chair all day in the living room. And I thought, I can't be that. And I think there was an element of, that's what people expect of you, where they're like, oh, this lady here, you know, we had one in our road, really nice lady, her husband died, and then she became the lady that everyone looked after. And I thought, I don't want to be that. But, I will say, for the point of record, you know, I also fell in love with someone. I also met someone who was, who made me feel like Amy did. I met someone who thought I was hilarious and didn't try and change the way I was and thinks I'm really clever and thinks I'm, you know, and wants to hear

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Interesting and yeah.

Jen Plant:

and so I met that person. What am I going to do? Say to them. And I remember actually when we first kind of talked about getting together, like you do in a very grown up way because you're people in your 40s, like, well, shall

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah, I know it's so different, isn't it?

Jen Plant:

when we had that conversation, I remember him, me sort of saying, well, I just, I don't know how soon is too soon. I don't know what people will think. He felt really embarrassed because he felt like, I don't want people to think I'm that guy who was your friend, who was constantly kind of waiting

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Sort of swooped in on you.

Jen Plant:

Yeah, and that, you know, that he kind of waited till I was vulnerable and then made a move. He said, I don't want people thinking that. Um, and we kind of had like these long conversations about it. And then I said to him, but there is no, there isn't a rule book for this because it's an unusual situation. And also my mum said a thing when I'd sort of, I said to my mum about all that, Andy likes me and I think I like him, but it's a bit too soon. And my mum was like, well, how long do you expect him to wait for you? What's the. And I was like, oh, well, I wouldn't expect him to wait. And if he met someone else, and my mum was like, really? And if he met someone else, you'd be fine with it, would you? And I was like, well, no, I'd be really sad. And she was like, well, that's kind of your answer. Um, but,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Why is mum?

Jen Plant:

She's a very, well, she's been married four, the great thing about my mum, because she's been married four times, and no one's died.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I was going to say, has she ever been widowed?

Jen Plant:

been widowed. But, obviously, she lost my sister, and my sister was nine, so she lost a

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Nine! Oh my god. Oh my god.

Jen Plant:

Um, and so my mum is very, part of the reason that, although I take the piss of her and say she's Kent's answer to Elizabeth Taylor, and she, you know, in many ways is, she knows that in a split second everything can change, and if you meet someone and that person makes you happy, why not?

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah, Ben's mum,

Jen Plant:

anything.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Ben's mum was like that because, um, weirdly and completely coincidentally Ben's dad died on the same day that Ben died. Uh, but five years apart, four years apart. Um, and I remember being terrified about telling her, because Ben was one of six, but he was very much her golden child. And, um, she said to me, You must. You must. You know, if you've met somebody that makes you feel good and happy, then you must. She says, I trust you. I trust your judgment. I trust your judgment of the children. And that was a really nice validation to have, and I'm very privileged and lucky to have that, because I know that not everybody does. But, yeah, I think my parents described it as, um, when we first got together, they were worried that we were two lost souls kind of just clinging to a life raft together. Um, and I just don't think that's what it was. I don't think either of us We were quite self sufficient, both of us. John was still working at the time and looking after Holly and I was, you know, muddling through. Um, and I don't necessarily think it was that we needed each other, I think it was just that we wanted each other. And I think there's a big difference between those two things, between needing to be looked after and wanting to spend your life with someone.

Jen Plant:

I wanted to say was, no I really fancy him. What I wanted to say was like, no I'm having the best sex of my life. What I wanted to say was, um, What I wanted to say was, no, we literally sit up talking till 3am and we, that's what I wanted to say. But you don't say stuff like that to people. So because you don't say stuff like that to people, people do assume, Oh, she's just not, you know, she's never been on her own, so she just, you know,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

She's not coping very well

Jen Plant:

She needed to find someone else or, you know, like when people would say, you know, it must be really difficult running a house by yourself. I'd be like, well, you know, I run a school. I run a school with 1, 500 children in it and they're my responsibility. And I'm, you know, safeguarding lead and it's my job to call the police. But, you know, I'm a really capable person. I just met someone that I really love.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I like to hang out

Jen Plant:

And I liked to hang out with and he was on his own with his daughter and they were perfectly fine. They were absolutely great. So it's that kind of, I want to say like, yes, it's better that we're together. Of course it is, but it's not like we both went, oh, I can't do this by myself. Or mom, you'll do

Rosie Gill-Moss:

can I find? Who can I find?

Jen Plant:

Who can I find? Who can I find? This person I've been friends with for a long time. Because,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

And a relationship based on a friendship. I mean, mine and John's friendship was shorter, obviously, because we didn't know each other as long, but you know Because of the, actually the, uh, offshoot group of way that we're in. We, there was no secrets and I entered into this relationship just like this is who I am. And we've gone through my diagnosis together. We've gone through school changes. We've gone through battling with KCC for school placements. We've, we've gone through, we've done it together as a team. And I've really enjoyed having, having, I've appreciated having somebody in my corner. Um, That was something I actually said to the kids in the car yesterday. I was, we're talking about perfect and how there's no such thing as perfect. And sorry, this is one of my tangents. And, um, I thought back and I, and I told the kids cause I, they like to hear little anecdotes about their dad. And I said, Oh, years and years ago, we were at a party and, um, I had some friends that had done some weird like course to, I can't remember the details. And it was how to live a better life. And, you know, and I just remember Ben saying. She doesn't need to do that. She's perfect. And it's the things that don't, her imperfections, that are what I love about her. And I can, I still remember this. And, you know, this is way before we had kids. I don't even think we were married. And I just thought, when somebody sees you for who you genuinely are, instead of this facade that you've put up for so many years, you, it's special. It is special. And we both know that we're lucky to have found that again. Some people go their entire life without meeting one person that brings them the joy. And I just, I think You grab onto the happiness, you grab onto all the happiness. I had all these plans. I was going to take the kids around the world. I was going to hire a, um, a tutor. This is when I thought I had loads of money in crypto, right? And, um, and I, I didn't do that, but I do, I did take them away on my own. I'm actually taking my oldest son away to Budapest for a couple of

Jen Plant:

Oh, wow.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

in December. Yeah, I think he's got to the age now where we can go and do sort of

Jen Plant:

They become like a nice friend, don't they? Mm.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

what, on holiday this year, we did Disney this year, which, um, still, I'm still suffering with PTSD from it, but it, um, but what I noticed was that my son has become, he shares my humor and, um, and we were, we were sort of like the naughty kids at dinner time. And it's quite fun to let that part of you come out again, isn't it? Cause you lose that and in all the grief and the admin and the, I don't know, just life, the grind of life.

Jen Plant:

Are your sons, like, are your sons like Ben as they get older, do you find yourself having conversation, thinking, I'd be having this conversation with your dad?

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah, Monty, my eldest. So he's massive. He's like six foot two and he's, yeah, I know. And he looks like his dad and he's charismatic. His characteristics are like his dad and he likes the same music. He sort of came across Oasis and, um, uh, Queen and stuff. So, yeah, I do. I, and I talk very openly about Ben to them as we do about Sarah. Because I feel that that's the best way for us to

Jen Plant:

Yeah.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Help them process their feelings. My youngest son is very, um, he's autistic and he has just started to, um, become quite obsessed with death again, which is really odd. So we're just sort of talking the fear of him, him, him dying, me dying, grandparents dying. And I think that is to do with the autism and not enabling him to perhaps process the grief. In a, um, like a neurotypical way, but he has just been accepted into a specialist school that works with children with trauma as well as, um, No, diversity. So he yeah, that was my battle with it. Okay, see, but actually, I say I battled with them. But to be fair, they fought my corner. And because yeah, they did. They in the end they fought my corner. I think I got into a room with the people, the decision makers and I bought them and they saw that I wasn't just this fussy mother that wanted a special special extra funding for my kid. But yeah, it's, it's lovely watching them grow into. young men. Um, but also it comes with a tinge of sadness because, you know, Monty is, he's fine. He academically, he's great. He's a really nice kid. Um, and I just wish sometimes that he could see, and I'm like you, I don't believe in the afterlife. Um, but all you can do is, is try and model the, the behavior that you want them to replicate, you know,

Jen Plant:

the only, one of the few times, I've always been quite stoic at work. And when I went back to work, I was very like, can everyone just not ask if I'm okay? I literally sent an email around saying, I'm fine, just let me crack on.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

That's interesting.

Jen Plant:

Um, and I went. Uh, well, we had parents evening, um, as in the parents were coming to our school. And because I'm deputy head, I didn't have any appointments. I was just kind of walking around and saying hello to people. And I saw all the mums and dads with the kids. And the kid would walk in with a mum and a dad and they'd sit down. And I burst into tears. So I was like, he will never have that. He will never have a mum and a dad that sit down and, and I was so sad for him. And I had to go and just sit in my office and have a sob for half an hour. Yeah,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I, I relate again. It's just little things like, the first time Hector took part in a school play, you know, he was sheep number two, and I've never been more proud to see sheep number two come on the stage.

Jen Plant:

Because he stood there and he did it.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah, and I cried because, and it's, they're just not going to be there for all these big wonderful events. It is shit, and it is unfair, but you can't let that pull you back down, because you're still here, but you're still gonna go to their parents evenings and weddings and pick them up pissed from parties, you know, we're still going to do all that stuff,

Jen Plant:

I think that's the thing, I think I'm over it now, but initially I think when I first got together with Andy, It bothered me that he didn't love Reg the way that I do, because of course he doesn't. And I think it's, I think it's like, I could be wrong, but I think it's harder for men. I think Matilda's just a little girl, and I'm quite a maternal person, and it's quite easy, and I love her, and it's, you know, it's easy. But I think a teenage boy and a grown man, it's hard for them, the relationship is always going to be difficult. Or

Rosie Gill-Moss:

never going to really accept him as a father figure, and we've noticed this. So Monty was, he was just for his 8th birthday when Ben died. Um, so by the time I met John, he, he says it's softly, softly catchy Monty. So it was just, just, you know, Star Wars, you know. And, and now actually he has, um, he does have a father role for my children. He does, he's been in their life so long, and Tabby has never known a different dad. So. It is different, but I, when it comes to discipline, I would still take the lead probably for Monty, um, and John's more like his sort of confidant, I suppose, like, and they, they, I mean, they send each other stupid GIFs and memes and things, um, but the other three, I would say, I mean, I, I believe that, you know, he loves them, I don't, to say, do you love them as much as your biological child is not a question we would ever have, I, I consider all four of my children, my children, and, And much like you, Holly was this, you know, six year old that just had lost her mum. And so, you know, very quickly we wanted the maternal side for me. And actually I loved being able to give it to her because, um, she's pretty easy to love most of the time.

Jen Plant:

And that's the thing you get. But I think that's I think, I mean, now, Andy and Reg, I mean, they're out together right now and they've gone for haircuts because we're going on holiday and it's hot, you

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Oh, we're going.

Jen Plant:

and they've, um, Cyprus, which I'm very excited about. Our first little getting on a plane holiday. We've done lots of centre parks and, you know, that kind of stuff, but it's exciting. But, and they went to see Robot Wars or Battle Robots or something on Saturday. Boy stuff, they do boy stuff and it's nice. Um. I think that, but I think it's harder because Matilda will say, I love you and you know, she all cuddles and stuff. Rich did say, I think it was a couple of weeks ago, he was going off to bed and he said, I love you both as he went up the stairs. And then Andy and I were like, Oh my God. You know, so It's

Rosie Gill-Moss:

such a big thing, isn't it?

Jen Plant:

there, but I think it's just. Because Tilda has a mum, I guess. I think that's the other difference, is that Matilda has a mum and 7 days out of 14 she's with her mum and then we have and she goes back for 7 days. So, she has a mum and Reg doesn't have a dad. So I think sometimes it's, sometimes I just feel, I just feel rotten for him. I just think, I'm so sorry you don't have a dad. I think it's brilliant he's got an Andy, but I think it's that thing of Knowing that, knowing that you know how you would throw yourself in front of a truck for your kid. And, and I, and I, funnily enough, I do think I would do that for Matilda, because I think there's just, I just think mums, if someone just says to you, that's your kid, mums go, okay, and we're kind of,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Here you come, here's another

Jen Plant:

sleep super. And I never wanted just to have one kid, I always wanted to have more, and Mike said no. So I'm like, great, I get this extra kid that I wanted. Bonus baby, hurrah. Um, but I think that, I do think that's the thing that's difficult is thinking I can't, I can't just magic you up your dad and even though I can now look back and think maybe your dad wasn't the greatest of dads lots, you know, some of the time, he was still your dad. And the older he gets and the more he's kind of like his dad, sometimes I, and I kind of want to, I almost want to show him and be like, Oh my God, you know, your dad, you're just, and I, try and talk about him as favorably as I can, you know, at home all the time. Like, oh, you know, and daddy always used to say this and, you know, daddy used to hate it when mummy did this and you're the same and you're, you know, and kind of like jokey stuff like, oh, you know, when your dad did, you know, when we met and all those kind of stories. It makes me sad for him that he just, he, he can't see that. He's not got that kind of, yeah,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

interject here, how big hearted of you to, even though that you're feeling Um, and you were able to see his faults and, you know, subsequently realize that it was a, um, a kind of coercive control almost type of relationship, but you are still able to share with your son, the positives and the happiness and the little, and I think that that is how you do it. You don't sit them down and have a really in depth conversation about your dead dad. What you do is as you're. I love talking to them

Jen Plant:

I love a talk in the car Um, yeah,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

drop into conversations. And sometimes I, Monty gave me a hug the other day and I cried because it felt like being hugged by Ben. It, it just, it was really odd. And I, um, but then I think you don't want to put the pressure on them to be like. Their father and, and I, I think it's very complicated growing up having lost a parent, a parent young and I am going to do, I'm in the process of organizing a, just like a six part offshoot of the podcast, talking to children, to adults who lost a parent young,

Jen Plant:

that's interesting,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

because I, one of the most common themes I have coming through is, will my kids be okay? You know, how will my kids, cause I felt, shit, this is it, like, they're gonna, their lives are fucked, like, their dad died, even Disney films, right? Um, And actually what we have is four, I mean, you don't want to say it, I'm touching wood here, but we have four. Children who appear to be relatively unscathed. That's not to say that they aren't damaged in some way, and they haven't, don't miss their dad, and that it isn't a terrible thing that happened, because of course it is, but they are probably going to be okay. And, I mean, I spoke to a woman who runs a boutique in Westmoreland, Eves, and, um, Terry, and she's, she said to me that, and I, I may get this the wrong way around, but one of her parents died suddenly, and the other one then took their own life. And Her and her brother got through that. Now imagine that. So I think it will be quite reassuring and comforting in some ways for people to hear that children can endure unimaginable tragedy and loss and they can still be okay.

Jen Plant:

think you, I think there's a very good chance you, that you can also end up better.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah, I think certainly more compassionate and kinder

Jen Plant:

And also just, my, if my sister hadn't died, I wouldn't have I've done half of the things I did when I was younger. It made me so ambitious. I worked so hard and I had been quite lazy. And I worked so hard and I got, you know, I got a first for my degree. I've literally done, I've had two careers. One in the city, one as a teacher. I've done incredibly well at both because I've always had this kind of ambition and that ambition stems from knowing my parents only had me. And yes, that does make you a little bit screwed up in other ways, but I definitely have. I definitely turned that situation into a positive. Um, I think that Reg is now at a private school because he, we did get some, um, the pension money. And it meant I could give the older two children 50, 000 each, and then I had 50, 000 and a pot for Reg. Um, and I'm using that to send him to private school, where he is doing so well. And he was in this rubbish, he was in this terrible school. He's gone to this new school, he's doing so well, he's like a different kid. He does

Rosie Gill-Moss:

year is he in?

Jen Plant:

Pardon?

Rosie Gill-Moss:

What year is

Jen Plant:

Ten.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Year 10. Monty's year

Jen Plant:

Yeah, so he was in Year 9 when Mike died. Um, but he's an August baby, so he's in Year 10, but he's only just turned,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

okay.

Jen Plant:

Um, but he's doing so well and I feel like that school will be the making of him. He wouldn't have gone to that school had Mike not died because

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah.

Jen Plant:

whether there was money for it or not, which I would argue there was, Mike didn't agree with private school. So, it's that kind of, I do think that we can, and I guess this is kind of where I sit, is that a terrible thing can happen, but the app, the offshoot of it can be an enormously positive thing. If you, I can't have, I feel like things are better if you can at least kind of justify them in a way or think they happened for a reason. You know, losing my best friend is the worst thing to have happened. If I hadn't lost my best friend, I don't think I'd have come to the realisation that Mike and I weren't right. And if I'd still believed that Mike and I were right when he died, I don't know what would have happened to me. Do you know what I mean? Everything, every little piece of the

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah, it's like the butterfly

Jen Plant:

Yeah, it has ended up with how things are now, and how things are now is infinitely better. Even registered to me the other day, our life is so much better now. So, to get to that, so, I think it's so easy for us, particularly as parents, to look at our kids and think, oh god, you don't have a dad, this is awful, your whole life's going to be But it doesn't have to be, because it can be that thing they look back on and say, do you know what? This terrible thing happened, but then these things happened, and that made me the brilliant person I am, not the screw up.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

And also, you often, I mean, most successful people come from a past of adversity. And, um, yes, you don't wish this on anybody, but I, I genuinely think that

Jen Plant:

Oh no, sorry, I've got people that have just walked in.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Um, I mean, we, I think that you are. A powerhouse. I think that you can hear this from what was your sister's name, by the way?

Jen Plant:

Katie.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Katie. Um, you can hear this, you know, that losing somebody you loved at such a young age has given you this ambition and drive. And, um, I mean, wow, you know, what a, what a life you've led. And the fact that you were. subjected to this sudden traumatic loss, instead of allowing it to drag you down into a pit of despair, you've just used it to push yourself forward. And, and I don't know you, but I'm proud of

Jen Plant:

Oh, thank

Rosie Gill-Moss:

around you must be really, really proud of you. And, um, when we come off mic, actually, I'm going to talk to you because, um, I'm wondering whether we could introduce Monty and Reg at some point because, um, yeah, he's, because we've moved around here. We can do this later. But, um, but thank you for sharing this story because it is probably less uncommon than you think. Um, and several of my guests have been in the process of, particularly men who have taken their own lives actually, they have been in the process of separation. And it does mean the grief is very complicated. So, um. Hearing that you're not alone in it and hearing that you don't feel like that horrible troll under the bridge that's like, well, why aren't I grieving like everybody else? You are giving a voice to many people and I really, really appreciate you taking the time and being brave enough to do it.

Jen Plant:

Oh, thank you.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

So, I wish you all the best. I really do. I hope that your relationship blossoms. I hope Reg continues to fly. And I, I hope that we can meet for coffee because we're really not that far

Jen Plant:

Absolutely.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

So, um, I love it. I love this. I'm building up like this little group of, uh, more with friends. I like it. Widows are the best. Um, so thank you once again. And, um, for our listeners, John and I will. So if you've got any questions for either us or for her, please do send them over at the usual channels. Instagram is probably best. And, um, yeah, take care of yourselves out there, okay? Lots of love.

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