Widowed AF

S2 - E3 - Kirsty Cluff

May 07, 2024 Rosie Gill-Moss Season 2 Episode 3
S2 - E3 - Kirsty Cluff
Widowed AF
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Widowed AF
S2 - E3 - Kirsty Cluff
May 07, 2024 Season 2 Episode 3
Rosie Gill-Moss

In this new episode of Widowed AF, host Rosie Gill-Moss welcomes Kirsty Cluff, who joins her for a chat from Scotland.

Kirsty shares her emotional journey, detailing her life with her late husband Pete, a dedicated soldier who unexpectedly passed away from an undiagnosed heart condition just weeks shy of his 22nd year in service.

The episode delves into the complexities of military life, the challenges of sudden widowhood, and the grief process.

Kirsty discusses the enormous impact of her husband's death on her family's future and the struggles of raising their two young daughters in the aftermath.

Key topics:  Military family, sudden death , bereaved children, finding love again.



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

Don't forget to subscribe !

Show Notes Transcript

In this new episode of Widowed AF, host Rosie Gill-Moss welcomes Kirsty Cluff, who joins her for a chat from Scotland.

Kirsty shares her emotional journey, detailing her life with her late husband Pete, a dedicated soldier who unexpectedly passed away from an undiagnosed heart condition just weeks shy of his 22nd year in service.

The episode delves into the complexities of military life, the challenges of sudden widowhood, and the grief process.

Kirsty discusses the enormous impact of her husband's death on her family's future and the struggles of raising their two young daughters in the aftermath.

Key topics:  Military family, sudden death , bereaved children, finding love again.



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 AF. You're here with your host, that's me, Rosie Gilmoss. And joining me, all the way from Scotland, is Kirsty Clough. Hello, Kirsty. you? are in Scotland, aren't

Kirsty Cluff:

I'm gonna have to say, although I'm in Scotland, I won't sound very Scottish.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

No, you don't sound very Scottish. You're giving me Julie Stonehouse vibes. Are you that

Kirsty Cluff:

I'm half and half. So, I was, I was brought up in the North East. So, depending on who I'm talking to, my accent can kinda slide into. Scots quite well and quite easily, or I can be a proper Baker Grove,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah, John's the same. If he's, if he's on the phone to somebody up north, I'm like, I can't even understand what you're saying. So, Kirsty, I'll give the listeners, um, a little background. So, Kirsty and I, we were just saying we've had, we had one very drunk phone conversation, um, a few years ago. It will be now. Although I don't remember the contents of the conversation, I remember feeling like I'd spoken to a bit of a kindred spirit. You know, we were both flailing around in the weeds and drinking too much and we just were eating, you know, the chicken, we were in the chicken and wine phase. Um, but we've been Facebook friends and we've watched each other kind of go through highs, lows, you know, parenting. And so I'm actually really looking forward to this, if this is, that's the right thing to say about a grief story, but I am. I'm looking forward to hearing the nitty gritty of how you got here. So. I guess it's over to you, if you'd like to tell us a little bit about Pete, and it's a military, he was in the military but it wasn't a conflict death, is that right?

Kirsty Cluff:

no, it wasn't a conflict there. So yeah, Pete was a serving soldier, uh, Royal Engineers. He was our army through and through, to the point where we would laugh and say if he ever broke a bone. The inside of it would look like Blackpool Rock with military colors going through it because

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I was gonna say red, white and blue all the way through.

Kirsty Cluff:

just made for military life. Um, and so and such a dedicated soldier. Um, so Pete was Just a few weeks off his 22 year point, so he was a committed soldier Less than I think it was I think was about four and a bit weeks off his This is 22 years service. We had already agreed to sign up to do additional time and we were based out in Germany. All of our married life was actually out in Germany. Um, I

Rosie Gill-Moss:

did not know that.

Kirsty Cluff:

um, and less than, less than two months later we moved to Germany and I remember being utterly terrified because I hadn't actually spent more than two weeks with him at any given time. Because he, he lived in, he, he, he was, when we first met he was based down in Bovington. Um, and I was living up here in Scotland. Um, and so we'd never spent more than two weeks together. And I have such a, a, a strong memory of standing on my wedding day, terrified, getting into my dress with my mum. Going, but what if I'm with him for a month and I don't like him, you know, and she and she just wet herself laughing and went, Oh, for goodness sake, girl, pull yourself together. And it's the best thing I could have ever done, but it was really scary moving to a completely different country. Um, and Germany was never a country previously that

Rosie Gill-Moss:

not tends to be on the,

Kirsty Cluff:

there. It's not somewhere that people want to go, but I can tell you now, it is the best place to visit. There is so much there. Um, I absolutely love it,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I would like to take Would you? Well, I'll tell you what, my eldest is quite interested in going, and if we go I'll let you know, maybe we can arrange a little trip.

Kirsty Cluff:

because it's, you won't regret it. It's beautiful. It's such a wonderful country.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah,

Kirsty Cluff:

But yeah, so we,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

my dad was actually there when the Berlin Wall came down, so that's a,

Kirsty Cluff:

Oh my gosh!

Rosie Gill-Moss:

he was on the, he was reporting it, he said it's a career highlight for him. He was a military correspondent, which is, so I do have a loose interest in sort of military, just through my dad's work really. Now, You, were you a military family at all? Did you have military connections before, or was this all completely new

Kirsty Cluff:

Um, just so you know, my, my, my grandfather, um, had been, um, in the, uh, RAF. So he'd been an aircraft engineer. Um, and, you know, going back the way, uh, historically, we, uh, my Scottish side had quite heavy. Um, military connections, but my, my parents weren't, weren't military. Um, but we'd, we'd kind of never been,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Sorry, that

Kirsty Cluff:

I just think the opportunity had never been there for us to have been a military family, um, beforehand. So it's not the career path that either of my parents took.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

so not only are you moving to a different country, you're moving to a different world, because being a military wife is different, isn't it? It's not a conventional life.

Kirsty Cluff:

And, and it's, yeah, it takes a certain type of. Person to, to want to, to, to manage, to be in the military environment because you, you're automatically going in knowing that you are second place and that your children are second place or third place, depending where, well, no, the kids,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

haha.

Kirsty Cluff:

let's not argue the kids always go above us. So we end up and the dogs and you know, the lads and whatever else. So yeah, you always know that you're signing up to be in a family where a lot of the time you'll be a single parent because there'll be a way. A lot of the time you'll have to put your own plans and your own needs second place, third place, fourth place, um, for the sake of that career. And you have to give up everything. I gave up my whole career to follow him and I don't regret it. Not one single bit. Um, but I, I would be lying if I said I wasn't really pissed off when he died cause it was almost my turn to get my career back. You know, he, he, we, we'd made this stupid deal in that, you know, for the, the whole time that he was going to have his career with the army, I would follow him, um, and love it and be a part of it and, um, but then when it, it, it was out the army and time to be civilian and, you know, civil life was my time.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

yeah, and that's,

Kirsty Cluff:

stay home and do the school, you know, runs and do the parent council meetings and, and do all the fundraising stuff and bake sales and I was going to get to invest in myself again.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

that backfired, didn't it?

Kirsty Cluff:

And I felt really cheated. It, it, it

Rosie Gill-Moss:

you did.

Kirsty Cluff:

things a bit. Because I was like, shit. Um, this is not how it's meant to work.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

No, and this is it. And I think also you go in as a military wife, and I think you mentioned it in your application. With an expectation that they may die. Because that must be something you have to come to terms with. Particularly when you have children with somebody, if they are in active combat. But I suppose, at the same time, he would have been fit and young and healthy ish, I suppose. But he didn't die in conflict, he died from an undiagnosed heart condition. So, although you would have had this kind of base preparation for this terrible thing could happen. It didn't happen in the way that you'd sort of prepared.

Kirsty Cluff:

and think that that's, that's one of the things that I really struggle with. Because it's not the, it's not that I expected him to die. Because obviously we don't. But you, you always have it as a military wife. You always know that there's a, there's a, there's a chance that they're gonna be deployed. And they're going to be injured or, um, maimed or, or, or killed. And so when they're home, you kind of get into this false sense of security that everything's fine, that everyone's safe. Um, you know, where actually, you know, you look at the statistics and most people, um, are injured closer to home rather than further away from home. Um, but yeah, Pete, um, survived so many tours, Kosovo. Sierra Leone, Bosnia, Afghanistan, um, you know, so many tours and came home unscathed.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Hmm.

Kirsty Cluff:

when it happened, Pete actually collapsed at a go kart track on a team building day.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

And he just

Kirsty Cluff:

And that was it. There was, yeah, there was no warning signs of anything.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Well, actually, tell me a little bit about that, because, um, that must have been incredibly traumatic, obviously. Um, and obviously, as a sudden death widow myself, I know that the horror of that one second they're here and one second they're not. Just, I mean, if you can, just tell me a little bit about when it happened.

Kirsty Cluff:

so Pete, um. Pete had had this big inspection that was looming, this um, equipment inspection looming as part of his work that was coming up on the Monday and Tuesday. Um, and so the Friday before, the guys had said, look, you know, we've got this team building day planned. They were heading out to a go kart track that was about an hour's drive from the base. Um, And so he was going off for that and then he changed his mind and looking at the amount of work he had to do, he said, no, I can't, I just can't go, I'm going to send them off. They can all go off and have a, you know, a great day, but I want to make sure that this inspection goes well. I want to make sure that we've got our shit together and that, you know, everything's, the dots are in the right place and everything's underlined where it's meant to be type of thing. So I've gone out to work. The children had, um, swimming classes after, after school

Rosie Gill-Moss:

and, just clarify for me, you've got two, two daughters?

Kirsty Cluff:

Two girls, yeah,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

and how old would they have been?

Kirsty Cluff:

Heather was eight and Meredith was five. Um, and I worked, I worked in, I had two different jobs, but, um, I was working in, uh, a middle school out there at the time, a military middle school. And we had a routine, the, you know, the swim kids and the parents would get together quite regularly and go out for dinner afterwards. So we'd end up, kids would have their swimming classes, we'd throw them into a onesie because there was no point getting them fully dressed again. Then we'd go and sit somewhere in a nice restaurant and, and have dinner and have a proper mum's gossip or, you know, catch up. Um, and so when Pete had said he wasn't going to go on the team building night, I said, well. I've still got plans with, you know, with this, with the swim gang, is that okay? He was like, yeah, it's cool. No worries. So we got to the, we got to the, the swimming classes as normal. It's really noisy in the pool. So even when you're sitting poolside, even if your phone is non silent, you don't always hear it because the kids are screaming and there's loads of other people

Rosie Gill-Moss:

You see me cringing, I hate swimming lessons.

Kirsty Cluff:

Well, yeah, exactly. me too. and, um, so it was just so noisy and then we were always chatting and it was normally, you know, inappropriate release of, of frustration between, you know, some really good friends of mine that, that, that, um, you know, we all lent on each other for, you know, moaning and groaning and

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Mum friends, they are.

Kirsty Cluff:

ridiculous laughing at each other. That's what was happening, and I didn't realise that my phone must have been ringing off the hook, um, and I didn't hear it. And when I finally answered the phone, um, it was one of our neighbours that had said, you know, we've been trying to message you, and I looked at my phone and I had so many missed calls, so many missed messages, Facebook message, like with one word, Kirsty, pick up your phone, next one going down, to try and make my phone ping as much as it could, so it could get a hold of me. Um, and I didn't understand. And so when I phoned, when I phoned them back and I was like, Yeah, what's going on? And they were like, oh no, um, Kirstie, there's been an accident. And I was like, shit, okay. What's happened? Oh, it's Pete. And I was like, okay. And she said, it's at the track. And I didn't put it together because, Well, Pete wasn't going to the go kart track. And he didn't say go kart track, he said at the tracks. All I know is that Pete's had an accident at the track. And there's lots of, there's, there's different train junctions and train crossings in the area of Germany that we were living in. I thought, oh my God, he's been hit by a train, like his car's been, or something. So trying to actually get to the bottom of it, because it was so many different people trying to phone me all at the same time, trying to get a hold of me of where I am. Um, when I finally got a hold of a welfare, there was a welfare officer's, um, wife messaged me, who, who knew me. And she's like, Kirsty, where are you? We need to get to you. You know, so, okay, so, uh. phoned her, and her husband phoned me back, and I said, he said, look, all I know is that Pete's been in an accident, he's been taken to hospital. Um, all I know that he's, that he's collapsed. Um, where are you? So I said, well, I'm at the swimming pool in Schloss Neuhaus, which is the little town where we lived. Um, I said, look, which hospital has he gone to? I'll meet you there. Um, and they said, no, no, we'll come and get you. And as soon as he said that, I was like, shit. And I argued and said, no, I'm perfectly capable of driving me being me sort of, I'm not waiting for somebody. I can get on the road now. I can, you know, my friend will take the kids. I can get on the road now. I'll be there before you. So where am I going? So you just said, no, no, we're going to send someone for you. So I kind of went back into where all the moms were. And by this point, they've got the kids out of the classes and showered. And I just looked, someone's happened to Pete. He's. On his way at the hospital. Um, I dunno what's happening, but they're coming to pick me up. So can somebody please have the girls? Um, and they were brilliant. They were so, so lovely and so supportive, um, and said, no, no, we'll take the girls and we'll keep them overnight if we need to. Just, you know, get yourself sorted. Get what you need outta your car.'cause you'll have to leave your car at the swimming pool. Um. And I remember going outside and, and waiting, and Sharon, who I, I absolutely adore, one of my friends came out with me, another swim mum, came out with me, um, and she had barefoot. And this was in February, it was freezing cold in Germany. She had nothing on her feet at all. And she was like, I'm going to stand outside and wait with you while they come. And I remember turning to her and saying, what if he's dead? And she just looked at me and she didn't say, he won't be dead. She just said, if he's dead, you're not on your own, we've got you, but let's not jump to that yet. And I said, but what if he is dead? If he's dead, they'll come to get me and they'll be in uniform, won't they? Because that's what they always say, if you're gonna get a military notification, it's that they come in a uniform. So if he gets out, if he gets out this car and he's in a uniform, then we know he's dead. And she went, okay, yeah, we can look at that. We can, we can, that's the next 10 minutes of us waiting for this guy to turn up. If he gets out, In a uniform, we know he's dead, and, and, and then we'll, and then we'll face that. So, we, we stood in pretty much shivering silence, and I kept trying to say to her, you know, go inside, go and get some shoes on, I'll be fine for a minute. She's like, no, I'm not leaving you. So she stood out in February, in the middle of Germany, freezing bloody cold, we've had ice everywhere, with no shoes, and I just, it's such a vivid memory of mine, that she was, she stood with nothing on her feet, and waited for me, with me.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

It's making me feel quite emotional hearing it because it is the things like that. That make the difference, isn't it? It's that somebody put their own comfort or discomfort on hold just to be with you while you waited. And I had a friend that came to me and left her own three children with her husband and just up sticks and came to me. And because in that moment, you know, this, is he dead? What if he's dead? I can remember doing this to the police. Just tell me, tell me, is he dead? But of course they, they couldn't. And. In that moment, that, I, it's, I've made a couple of notes as you were talking there, and one of the things was that kind of feeling of being hunted, because you would have looked, I get overwhelmed on my phone, if I don't look at my phone for an hour or two, I get like 25 whatsapp messages or something, and I, I find it overwhelming, but in this moment, your phone must have just been full, you must have not known who to reply to first, and, maybe it's the wrong word, the feeling of being hunted, but that feeling of being, um, I

Kirsty Cluff:

I was bombarded. I

Rosie Gill-Moss:

to, that's the word I was looking for. Thank you.

Kirsty Cluff:

And when you're on the phone, if someone finally gets a hold of you and you're phoning them, and then somebody else is trying to cut in on that phone call, so, and because your phone will start beeping in your ear when someone else is trying to, the information was just, there wasn't a lot of information coming in, but what was coming in. Was so interrupted. It was, it was like trying to understand Morse code. Because all the different pings and beeps and blips that was going off. Was just overwhelming. Um,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

and you just want the

Kirsty Cluff:

were standing in the car park outside this swimming pool. Completely oblivious. And I remember saying, Do you know what, I'm going to get to this bloody hospital. And he'll have a bandage on his head. And he'll be sat drinking a cup of tea.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Nice cup of tea.

Kirsty Cluff:

Which, he doesn't like hot drinks anyway. Um, but they would have forced a sugary cup of tea. And I'm like, The daft sod won't have eaten anything. And he's just passed out. And I was like, dick. You know, like, oh for God's sake, typical

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Oh yeah.

Kirsty Cluff:

anything.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I lay in the bath with the kids while I was waiting for Ben to return from his dive trip. And I, in my own head, uttered the words, you bet me bloody dead. Like, what the fuck? Like, I didn't mean it. But then you start thinking, did I make it happen with my words? I'm not that

Kirsty Cluff:

but that's some, your overhead brain just

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Mm hmm.

Kirsty Cluff:

takes you there and that's something that even now I think about, you know, when I said, what if he's dead and then I was like, did I make that happen?

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I make him down? No, we're not that powerful. My mum told me that.

Kirsty Cluff:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. My mum said to say, yeah, you're not that powerful. Um, and that's it. So the, the, you know, the officer, the welfare officer turned up, who was really lovely. He knew Pete really well.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

In uniform?

Kirsty Cluff:

and he knew, he knew me really well. I had, you know, a friendship with his wife and he was in civvies. You know, he was, he wasn't like scruffy, he hadn't come from the gym or anything, but you know, he was just in a, in a, in a pair of nice trousers and a shirt, he wasn't in a uniform. So I instantly relaxed. And so did Sharon, she's like, ah, right, that's cool, I can hand you over now. Because it's okay, he's not, he's, he's not

Rosie Gill-Moss:

built this bargain, haven't

Kirsty Cluff:

guy's not in a uniform.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

And this is the bargaining, isn't it? It's bargaining. It's if they're not in uniform, there's a chance my husband's still alive. And there's all these sorts of

Kirsty Cluff:

Well, it wasn't even there's a chance he's alive, he is alive, because I've always been told. Pete would always tell me, in every army briefing that you went to as a wife, is that if it's bad news, we're coming in a uniform. So

Rosie Gill-Moss:

actually that's what got me was the police were in uniform. So I had a glass panel in my front door and you come down the stairs and I had the baby in my arms and the dog was So I put her into the living room, came back out again, and it was those few seconds that the penny dropped. There's uniformed police officers on my door at seven o'clock at night. They're not bringing me good news. But, like you, I was still, he's had an accident, he's in a hospital. I just need someone to look after the kids, you know, he might need looking after for a while. But my head, my mind just did not go to, he's dead. It, it just doesn't, you're not conditioned to think that way, are you? Your brain protects you. So, of course you are.

Kirsty Cluff:

think, you know, during those moments because,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

You don't want it to be real.

Kirsty Cluff:

exactly, and it creeps in and you go, oh God, what a stupid thing to say, why would I even, but as reality would have it. That was the, that was the truth of it. We, we had an hour's drive or about an hour's drive to get down there. To which point we talked a lot of shit and random stuff because it's, you know, sat in the car with somebody who, yeah, he knows Pete really well. He actually, this guy, um, the, the officer had gone through the ranks with Pete, um, above him. Um, but with officers you can, there's two different types of officers. You have officers that, um, that build their way up through the ranks and then you get the ones that just go straight in, um, and, and, and this guy built his way up through the ranks and he was really highly respected and he was, he was, he was really held in high regard

Rosie Gill-Moss:

One of the good guys.

Kirsty Cluff:

you know, I, he, he was, he's a lovely lad, a great guy, um, and he checks in with

Rosie Gill-Moss:

for an hour in a car.

Kirsty Cluff:

Well, this is it. Um, so we were, and we're just shooting the breeze, but I get, I remember saying, Oh, you know, Pete's, Pete's going away to Canada next month. And, you know, he's been home for a while, so I can't wait to get him out from under my feet.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah.

Kirsty Cluff:

is, in hindsight, you sit going, He was never, ever going to be back under my feet ever

Rosie Gill-Moss:

You'd give anything to have him under your feet, right?

Kirsty Cluff:

Oh God, yeah.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah.

Kirsty Cluff:

yeah. Um, but, in, in that random talking crap, I, I, I wasn't, I'm not, I wasn't moaning about Pete being under my feet, but I just went, yeah, God, I could be doing with, you know. I'm out from under my feet. He's been home for a while now. Bloody hell. I'm not used to this. Because Pete would be away for six months at a time, quite a lot. You know, so,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

And actually, that can make it quite challenging. I mean, I will go into this and the impact on your family unit, but Ben also worked abroad. He would tend to do one week a month abroad. His business was in France, and so For that first week or so, you can almost kid yourself that they're at work, or, because they're, yeah, because they're not there all the time. You, I don't know, you can almost fool yourself that it's temporary and then the reality comes crashing in. So, where did he take you then? Did he take you to the hospital? Oh. Sorry. Mm.

Kirsty Cluff:

that it would make us Well, does it make us more easy to adapt to adult life? Because we've spent a lot of our time as single parents anyway. I don't know. I don't

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I don't know I don't think it matters. I don't think it matters because even though they're not physically with you, they're there, aren't they? Um, and actually I had almost the opposite problem in that Ben was away for a week, but then he would be at home for three. So he was a very present when he was present and then he would be gone and it was quite. So I would say the way the kids were very lucky because he was quite hands on dad, so they got more time with him. But that also means that he, the rift is then felt bigger because. You know, he did do the bedtimes, bath times and things. So anyway, I digress. Let's go back to your story. And so you're presumably the hospital he's at. Is it, was it a

Kirsty Cluff:

we got to the, we got to the hospital. Um, I had phoned, I had phoned in the car on the way down. I'd phoned my mum back here in Scotland and said, I'm on the way to hospital. Pete's had an accident. I don't know what's happening yet, but can you please pack a bag? Because the army can get you here. They can fly you out. I might need help if Pete has to sit in hospital for a while. Um. And at that point they'd said, the, um, the welfare officer had said, you know, it is most random thing. He said, um, is there somewhere nearby we can land a chopper? And I'm like, what? Like my mom's

Rosie Gill-Moss:

near your mum's?

Kirsty Cluff:

you serious? Like we were laughing on the, I was on the phone to my mom at the time we're laughing and I was like, well, we've got horses so we can clear a pony field. We can clear the horses out of a pony field and you can land a chopper. I'm like, are you serious? It's like, well, yeah, because we need to get a heater, you know, to, to help, you know, if Pete's, you know, seriously injured and he's going to need that kind of support, you know, we, we can, it's a possibility, like, let's not discount it. So my mum was like, yeah, I'll pack a bag. I'll pack a bag. I phoned the Padre, um, who's a lovely friend of mine, Mike. Um, and we worked together, um, in the school. He did a lot of work in the school. Um, and I just phoned the Padre and said, I'm on, I'm on the way to, to the hospital. Um, can, can you please get there Pete? Something's happened to Pete. Could you please meet me there? Um, which he, he did. So when, when we arrived at the hospital, in the hospital car park, um, Mike, the, the Padre was parking up as well. So he'd literally just got in his car at the same time and kind of come down to us. Um, we, um, we, we climbed the, we climbed the car park stairs, went into the hospital. Um, and my German is hilarious. It's. It's the most broken German in the world, but I don't ever go hungry and I never get lost. Um, and, and I can always get cross with you in German, you know,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I can say, I love you.

Kirsty Cluff:

I'm never going to starve. I'm never going to get lost. I can always get home. You know, I can ask for directions and all that

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Those are the essentials.

Kirsty Cluff:

Exactly. Conversational German, not so much, but, um, or if it is, it's very broken. So it makes sense in my head, but the, the, the blank looks on German's faces is quite funny at times. Um, so I've gone in, uh, to the reception, I said my name, you know, my husband's been brought here, all this in broken German, um, and they just told me, yeah, the, the doctors are with him, uh, you need to wait, which was, and said back to me in, in a mix of, of German and broken English. And I think that's one of the, one of the barriers that we have. In, in our story, because in the hospitals in Germany, especially where we have, you have a military base, there are, there are translators paid, they are on staff. But this was after the normal working day. By the time we got down there, this was like six o'clock at night. Um, you know, and they had to try and locate a translator for us, um, to be able to speak to us. Um, so that kind of added another layer of waiting and frustration and, and trauma as it happened. Um,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

at this point, do you know anything? What do you know? You just know he's had an

Kirsty Cluff:

So that's it. We just know he's had an accident. So we get to the, we, we, we, we get to the waiting area and round the corner rushes three of the guys that was with Pete. One of them is, um, is commanding officer. Another couple of the lads are really good friends of Pete. And I instantly start to quiz them. So my, my background, um, my, both my parents are medical profession. Um, I've. I worked in many different wards and, and, and nursing centers, um, and, and have a solid understanding or I would, I'm a bit braggy there, isn't it? Shit. No, I'm not

Rosie Gill-Moss:

No, that's not bragging.

Kirsty Cluff:

I have an understanding of emergency care and treatment and, and, you know, I was desperately trying to diagnose what happened to Pete. So I was like, has, has, has he been drinking? Was he drunk? And that was a no. Um, okay. Okay. Okay. Had he eaten? Did you see him eat? What did he eat? You know, has he had something he shouldn't have? Did he maybe eat shellfish? He's not allergic but he could be. You know, I was really trying to diagnose this

Rosie Gill-Moss:

he stung by a

Kirsty Cluff:

was getting, these poor guys were just bombarded by my

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Panic.

Kirsty Cluff:

about this? And did he do that? And did he say that? And it was really, really frustrating for them but they were so good with me. And I just got more and more agitated. And, um, because they weren't giving me the, you know, the answers that I wanted. And I'd said, you know, when he fell, did he hit his head? And I don't know. I said, so was he conscious? Was he slurring his words? Did he grab his chest before he fell over? You know, did he grab his head? Did it look like he, they couldn't answer anything. So they'd said that Pete had, they were all leaving the go kart track to walk. You know, they were still in the building, but they'd done their last race. Pete had come second, which he was kind of gutted at, but he was, you know, he was having a good day. He'd been enjoying the camaraderie with his pals or the lads, and he turned to one of them and he said, you know, I wasn't going to come today, sir, but I'm really pleased I did. This is a fucking awesome day. And he went, yeah. And they went to walk off and he heard Pete drop behind him. And that was the last thing that Pete ever said. Um, you know, um, you hit the deck,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

It just doesn't seem possible, does it? That they can, that

Kirsty Cluff:

I know

Rosie Gill-Moss:

life can switch off like that.

Kirsty Cluff:

exactly, it's, it's just hiking in my head. I'm like, how can you be standing, laughing and talking one second and then not be any more? How can you just fail to be anymore? So

Rosie Gill-Moss:

and I know that people, to lose somebody through an illness is incredibly traumatic and I'm not diminishing that. But you see the decline, whereas when somebody dies very suddenly, there is no warning, no preamble, no, I mean, like you say, he would literally was saying what a wonderful day he'd had and then bang.

Kirsty Cluff:

that's it.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

And in a

Kirsty Cluff:

about it being like we're all hit by the same tsunami, but if it's an illness you can see it coming and you're standing facing the water so you can see the wave coming for you. And you and I had our backs to the water.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Abandoned,

Kirsty Cluff:

a shit analogy considering your story,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

They're all that, do you know what? I'm not very, I'm not sensitive at all, Dan, but I'm, I did, when, in the early days, I can just, all the grief analogies are water based and they are, it's, I'm treading water, you know, the waves of grief, but

Kirsty Cluff:

your head above the water. Fucking hell, shut

Rosie Gill-Moss:

now I let it, the water roll over me, but it's, it is. And then, and this is the thing, you know, like, the sensitivity around words and, um, I mean, have you been go karting?

Kirsty Cluff:

never. I've never gone go karting. I've never let my girls go go karting, which is ridiculous because you didn't

Rosie Gill-Moss:

it didn't cause it. No,

Kirsty Cluff:

But I did go back to the track before I left Germany. I, I did go back to the track because I wanted to, I needed the closure to see where it happened.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah, I went down to the closest land where Ben drowned. Same reason. Did

Kirsty Cluff:

I learned. In, in, in the hours and days after Pete's death, that, um, Pete had never regained consciousness, but his, the lads that were with him did their best to save him and they ran a brilliant trauma response, you know, CPR and everything. And they got his, they did everything they could for him to keep him with us. And they got his heart started twice. Um, but he just. His heart just wasn't strong enough and later the coroner had said that even if he'd had a surgeon with him, a trauma surgeon with him, right there next to him in a sterile environment, with all the equipment and bells and whistles that you would need, he couldn't have been saved. And,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

that give you comfort in some weird way? Yeah, because you know it couldn't have been avoided.

Kirsty Cluff:

The biggest comfort I got. wasn't just the fact that he wasn't on his own, that he was with his friends, it was that they tried their very best for him and, and they gave him every single opportunity that they could to keep him with us. And when you, you look at the alternative of that day, if Pete was always destined to die on that day, he was meant to be in the hangar on his own, finishing the work while all the other lads are off. So he would have had no chance at all. And that makes me think sometimes, like, when would I have got worried? If he'd been at work, a late night wouldn't have

Rosie Gill-Moss:

No, well,

Kirsty Cluff:

When would I have tried to phone him? When would I have stopped trying to phone him and turned up at the hangar? And how long could he have been left on his own, waiting to be found? And the comfort that I get from the fact that he was With guys that loved him, guys that did their damndest to save him and they carry that with them. I don't like that bit. It hurts me to know that they carry the trauma of trying to save their friend and not being able to. Because that's got to affect you.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

that's because you're a very nice person for you to think. And yes, you're absolutely right. And I, um, I wanted to speak to the guys who've been on the boat with Ben. Um, and they wouldn't, the skipper wouldn't take my call. Um, and I did finally get to speak to him in, um, coroner's court. But, and actually as soon as I saw him, this kind of, uh, Enemy figure, this villain that I'd created in my head, the skipper, he wasn't, you know, Ben was an adult, he chose to go in the water, but this feeling of lost and alone is, it's one that really haunts me, actually, because the thought of him being out in that sea on his own, like an unclaimed piece of baggage, that makes me really sad, but I don't know if he'll ever be found now, and I live with that waiting, will I get a call, but, so, yeah, it's, it I, insofar as you can have a good death, I suppose, you know, he was having a really good day and it was very quick for you, but it doesn't help, does it? It doesn't help that he didn't feel the pain or I don't know. It's that snatched away from you. Um,

Kirsty Cluff:

it's that real sudden, you know, what's, what's, what's happened and I think, I mean, my, my heart broke when you joined our gang. And you, you shared some, some of the, the, you know, some of your story and, and those first few months of you being part of the group, um, and my heart broke for you. Absolutely broke because it was exactly as you just said there, you know, the, it's the unknowing and, and not, and that I have this thing, I need closure for everything.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

same,

Kirsty Cluff:

I, I need closure for everything. And it, and it cripples me when I don't get it. Um.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

and it actually, I thought I had made peace with it. And then I had a text pop up on my phone. And it was, I think it must have been an unknown number because it was a Happy New Year text. And it wasn't from anybody in my contacts. And I looked at this picture and at first glance it looked like Ben. And you know, and I screenshot it, I sent it to Lulu and I just went, just tell me that it's not. And I mean, she never met Ben, I thought she'd know. But, it was, uh, I think she was the only person that wouldn't think I was totally mental for doing it. Um, And I do

Kirsty Cluff:

all rationale at these kind of things, don't we? So,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

hell. Yeah, we were cracked. But it, it was the fact that my body responded like that. Could it be? Whereas you'd think by now that would have totally left me, and I don't believe he's out there, of course I don't, how could I be remarried, how could I have, you know, rewrote my life, because you cannot survive in those circumstances, but I think, like you, the lack of closure, for want of a better word, is, is hard, because I did a funeral, I've done all the sort of, all the sort I've never, I've never seen his body, I wouldn't want to, but I've never seen his body. I've never had a coroner, you know, it's a presumption of that. So yeah, it, I can relate to that feeling of being just needing to know the facts, which does bring me on to asking you a bit about the girls, because I had, um, I had my three, so Monty was seven, but he was eight the next month and Hector had just turned five. So I had a five and a nearly eight year old as well. And. If you are able to, because I know this is probably the hardest bit that we have to do as widows, um, but it is a really important part of our story, and just how you told the girls, and how they reacted, and how they are now, maybe, if they, I know they're teenagers now, so insofar as they would be okay with you talking about them.

Kirsty Cluff:

the, um, the girls, the whole telling everybody was horrendous. The way I was told in the hospital was horrendous, because the translator and the doctors and everything else was, it was an absolute farce. It was an absolute farce and there was a language barrier that was there, but it was so traumatic. And we were waiting for so long. Um, uh, by the time it actually came about and, and I got the answers I got, Pete had been deceased for several hours. Um, so my, I had to let the, the Sharon, um, and Maria, the two women that were helping look after the girls, I had to let them know. Um, and said, look, can I, can I just have tonight? I sort myself out, they, they, they kind of drove at breakneck speed one of my other friends down to be with me, um, Elspeth. They um, they drove Elspeth to the hospital to be with me and to stay with me back at the house. Um, And at this point, you know, they didn't send a chopper for my mum. Because obviously he

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I'm really disappointed about that.

Kirsty Cluff:

may have considered it. But no, they, they, they got my mum on a flight first thing on the Saturday morning. This was Friday night that Pete had died. So first thing on the Saturday morning, they got my mum on a flight and got her over to Germany. She landed at lunchtime. And we arranged that she would be, mum would get to me just before the girls came home. And unfortunately There was an incident where, so because Pete had died with the lads and they saw how seriously ill he was and they saw them being resuscitated, they were part of his resus team, um, and you know, they all needed to be able to share with their families what had happened to them that day. It wasn't fair to ask them to keep that quiet. So I was very quickly pushed into having to announce Pete's passing. to which point people started talking about it in their houses. Um, fair enough, but my girls still hadn't been told by me because they weren't even home with me yet. And unfortunately, my friend had taken the girls to a play park and another soldier's child approached them at the swings and said, your daddy's dead. And I'll never forgive that family. I will never forgive that family. And it's, you know, it's, is it an honest mistake? Well, would, why would you talk about something so horrific happening around young children? You know, um, and then those children go out and see my girls in the park and Oh, your daddy's dead. And it was such a matter of fact way

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Because that's how children are.

Kirsty Cluff:

found out and I had no control over it. My friend had no control over it because by the time she got from the bench to the swing set where they were, it was too late. It had come out. So my girls came home and they ran at breakneck speed from my friend's car to our front door. We had this glass door, um, that's got the security glass in it. So it's all got this wibbly wobbly glass and it's got the metal in it. Um, and the little squares. And, I didn't, there was no doorbell ringing, I just, they were pounding, both of them pounding on the glass with their hands, mummy, mummy, mummy, mummy, mummy. And I have such a vivid memory of that. And um, sorry I sound really snotty now and, but

Rosie Gill-Moss:

you're alright.

Kirsty Cluff:

it's just such a vivid memory of hearing my girls so desperate to get through a door to me. So my, my, my mum and I sat with them and we, we told them that daddy was in heaven. I was really careful about the way I said it because I didn't want to use the word gone. Because when you go somewhere you can come back. And I didn't want them to think that he was able, I needed to be clear from the very start. And it's something that my mum and I discussed before. The girls got there that we had to be so straight forward with them. Um, and her experiences as being, you know, a Macmillan nurse for so many years, you know, hospice director and working in the hospital environments with families in bereavement. She was like, you have to be from the word go from the very start, you know, so that, that, that support and that advice was amazing. Um, but I mean, the girls just couldn't fathom it. So they asked me then, so where is daddy's body? And I said, it's in the hospital, um, in a special part of the hospital. And, and then because we don't know what happened to daddy and we don't know why daddy is dead. Um, they have to get a special doctor to come over from England because Pete, Pete's post mortem couldn't, wasn't allowed to be done by a, by a German, um, coroner. It had to be done by a military British coroner. Um, so they had to fly somebody out. Um, so

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Just another complication then.

Kirsty Cluff:

it's another complication. It was so complicated with, with. With Pete at the hospital even because you know, the German police were there because it was an unknown death then the military police came because military and then SIB the military branch of the SIB had to come come in and

Rosie Gill-Moss:

mean?

Kirsty Cluff:

Pardon Oh a special investigation branch

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Thank you.

Kirsty Cluff:

so

Rosie Gill-Moss:

the non military.

Kirsty Cluff:

you know, and it was just like this is unbelievable like and And there was a there was a point and I was like what why are all these Why are all these police here? I don't, why is there so many people that need to know about this? And it was really overwhelming. And it was just because Peter died in unknown circumstances. Um, and I remember having a big shouting match with them at the hospital, which, you know, these guys are awesome cause they put up with my shit. Um, cause they told me I couldn't see him. And I was like, well, he's identified him. I've just been told he's dead. Who the fuck's identified him? Cause I'm his wife. Um, but actually they'd got, as I was being notified, they'd got one of Pete's commanding officers to, that was at the hospital still, to go and identify Pete so I didn't have to. Because I was like, that's not, it can't be Pete. He's given his, and then I was like, you know, you make these stories up. And I was like, he took his wallet out of his back pocket because he's sitting in a go kart and that'll dig in his arse. So he's handed his wallet to some other poor shit and that little bastard's dead, not Pete. Because my Pete's not dead, why would he be dead?

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Pete's having a lovely time, he's still going around that

Kirsty Cluff:

Exactly, Pete's probably sat at the fucking bar wondering where everyone else is. Like, but you know, and, and that, but your head takes you to these ridiculous stories because that seems even, that seems more comprehensible than the fact that they're dead. Um, see there was loads of different authorities involved just because it was an unknown death. Um, when the post mortem was done that week, um, the post mortem was done on the Monday he died. The Friday postmark was on the Monday.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Military, um, efficiency right there.

Kirsty Cluff:

Yeah, well, military are good for a lot of stuff, so, and I, and I have to say, I can't fault them on how they handled me like that. You know, I can, I can fault the hospital on the notification system and how things happened there. But, um, not, not, not the, not not the military. They, and they've, they've been good to us.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

And have they looked after you since? I know this is a bit of a digression, but

Kirsty Cluff:

yeah. Um. There was a huge amount of care in the first two years because Pete and I had bought a derelict house in Scotland in 2012 and we were in the midst of starting renovations with it so we were actually due to break ground. We'd met with builders, we'd done all the planning and the building warrants and we'd done all the designs and Pete was heavily involved in the designs with his mum and dad. Were, were very interested in architecture and his dad did, um, a lot of work with the building and planning team down where they lived. So we, you know, a huge amount of input from the Clough family name had gone into this house build and renovation and, and, and an extension. And, um, we were due to break ground in the Easter and then Pete died in the February. So I was left with a house that was derelict, um, living in army quarters and normally You know, uh, when somebody passes in the military, you're, you know, you're given between three and six months to vacate your property. Most military widows don't want to stay in garrison because they just, you know, the, the, the, the trauma of being there around everybody else is really hard. Uh, with me, I, I worked for, um, military schools, so MOD schools. Um, and I worked as an Army Welfare Service, uh, Youth and Community Worker. So, I, I, I, I had two good jobs. And I kept my nose clean, so I hadn't got, I hadn't got caught, let's just say that. Not that I'd never done something, things that were naughty sometimes, but I'd never been caught. So, um, the regiment very kindly sponsored us to stay over in Germany while I was trying to, to get a house back here.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

what the fuck to do?

Kirsty Cluff:

Well, exactly, because, and so they'd offered me the nearest, the, the nearest garrison to where the, the, the house that I'm sitting in now is, this is the one that we built. Um, the, the nearest house, uh, garrison to us was Lucas, which was about, it's about an hour and 20 minutes away from here. And the thought of moving to a different garrison that was still over an hour away from my immediate family. And having other people look at me, wondering who we were and hearing the grapevine and the gossip and I could not co perceive even the thought of that. I would rather be in Germany, where I had a support system of good friends, where my children had good teachers and friends and family, uh, families that they knew and trusted around them. I wanted to keep as much of their life stable as I could. And the army let us do that, so yeah, they were really good to us. Um, we've, we've kind of not fallen out as in we don't speak anymore because we've had an argument, but I think naturally our, our, our life of military has kind of pulled away somewhat. Um, which has got good sides and bad sides because it's, I find it really hard sometimes seeing Pete's friends, our friends, promote. Because Pete would be wanting to celebrate with them and embrace them. And hopefully Pete would have promoted with them as well. And they climb the ranks and, and Pete stays the same

Rosie Gill-Moss:

The world keeps turning, doesn't it?

Kirsty Cluff:

you know, and, and it's like, there's that awful feeling of being left behind. And you're, you're so torn because you're, you're genuinely happy and blown away that your, your friends are being promoted and their families are. Or, or, or getting posted out to exciting places, you know, whether it be, uh, over to, to Canada, which is one of the posts that we always wanted to do, or over to Africa, or, or over to, to Dubai, or, where, you know, all these amazing army postings, which, you know, I would have loved to have gone and experienced, and Pete would have loved to have gone and experienced it as well. There's a, it's not a green eyed monster in a, In an ugly, bitter way. It makes me wonder how we would have managed that as a family, and if Pete would have wanted to go out there as a post in, or what rank Pete would have got to, or how long he would have stayed in for. It's, it's

Rosie Gill-Moss:

the future that gets stolen from you, because everybody's very aware that your partner, your husband, your wife, you know, whoever you lose, they're aware of the significance of that loss, but it's the stolen future and the keepers of the memories, and it really difficult, and you talk, watching his kind of, uh, uh, Colleagues, sorry my brain just dropped out then, you saw what, talking about watching his counterparts rise through the ranks and this passage of time going on. Now Ben had his own business, I don't see that so much, but what I do see is, you know, I, you know, This is happening and the kids have grown up or grow, are growing up and I'm going to be, believe it or not, 43 next month and he was 42 when he died. And it's all these passages of time, isn't it, that remind you that they aren't getting what we have. And I know that you are like, like every guest I have on here, and that you make the choice. Because you do, it's a choice, isn't it? You either lay down on the floor and cry for the rest of your life or you do a bit of that and then you dust yourself down and put your big girl pants on and keep fucking going.

Kirsty Cluff:

too stubborn to do the first one for long.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Do you know what? Same, I think. And also, if you are able to flip it and realise that you are still here and they are not. It feels very wasteful to do that, because I know that Ben wouldn't have, I don't know what he'd have done if I'd have died, but had we been, had he been here now, he wouldn't have tolerated lying on the floor crying. It would have been, come on, up you get, let's go. And it is, it is actually the only way to get through it, but it, a little bit of chicken and wine first sometimes. I'm just gonna, if I may, just bring you back to the girls again. I know it's a tricky one, but just, So after they have been told, and presumably they did the little psychopath thing, where you tell them and they're upset and then they go and do something really normal, and you're like, what's the matter with you? But, we now know that that is normal, that's a perfectly normal human response, especially for a child. But, are you, how many years are you coming up to, is it five or six this year? Oh Eight, Oh sorry, completely wrong. Um, so, That was tech support, he told me.

Kirsty Cluff:

hmm.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Um, so eight years, it's a long time. It's the entirety of your eldest daughter's life, and longer than your before, and so they've now been without their dad for longer than they had him, which is

Kirsty Cluff:

and, and these are big milestones, so both my girls have now hit that. So, Meredith was five. When Meredith turned to ten, it hit her really hard that she had lived half her life without her dad. Meredith took Meredith's anger at the world. You know, and she, she, Meredith was very angry with me because I had more time with her dad than she did. And that wasn't fair. And she was angry with her sister because her sister had more time. She was born first and that wasn't fair because I should have been born first so I could have more time with dad. I,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

all, completely irrational, isn't

Kirsty Cluff:

you know, these feelings and Heather's Heather's 16. She turned 16 in September. She's um, she, she's at that, yeah, I've lived, I've lived exactly half my life now without my dad.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Mm. Yeah.

Kirsty Cluff:

these are really heavy milestones for us to hit. The, the, Heather is more open talking about her bereavement and she's received some wonderful support from, uh, Scotty's Little Soldiers, um, and Winston's Wish have done sessions with us as well. Meredith has only just agreed to start. Um, talking with the Scottish team, um, because Meredith doesn't like to talk about it because she believes that if she doesn't talk about it, it's not really happening. So she can just avoid it. She's a big avoider and she pretends that everything's fine, but then she implodes and you know, she's, Pete and I always said that Meredith had the best and worst of our personalities

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I've got one of them.

Kirsty Cluff:

she, she got the huge ability to love, um, You know, but she also has the worst of my temper. My temper can be horrendous. And Meredith has definitely got my temper. And she's got, she's got Pete's temper as well.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Which one is the dancer?

Kirsty Cluff:

Meredith, she, she, Meredith is a dancer, so she, and she, and she's, I mean, she was competing up until October. She was, uh, competitive dancing.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I've seen the videos on Facebook and she, uh, because Tabby's dance is competitive. She's only, only little, she's only six. She's just in mini squad. But I go to, I'm now a dance mum, so my entire

Kirsty Cluff:

oh yeah.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

at a dance show. And I had no idea, I mean we completely, this is not talking about grief, but what the hell, it's my podcast. Um, and I was completely blown away by the athleticism of these girls. And boys, because there's some boys that do it as well. Because obviously I'm seeing the very beginning, but the girls have sort of in their teens, I mean, they are athletes, they are, I suppose people think of dance as being a bit wafty and, you know, but it, but it's, it's incredible discipline. It's a sport.

Kirsty Cluff:

Yeah, they don't see the hard work. I mean, Meredith at, at the height of her dancing and competing last year, she was, she was doing, you know, 10, 12 hours of dancing a week. Um, and then we had comps on weekends and she'd be dancing again. And it was exhausting. And, you know, trying to keep routines in, in your head and, and, and, and sticking with, with your routine and not wanting to change it at the last minute. And the self-doubt, you know, it's.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

And being the mum without a, dad there.

Kirsty Cluff:

but

Rosie Gill-Moss:

That's what I found, when she, cause she's very new to this, I'm such a little, but one of the, the show, the second show, they came out, and she was nervous, and she walked onto the stage, and it was like, um, I guess like the mask went up, and the stage presence came up, and you almost go to look, to say, look, you know, and they're not there, and,

Kirsty Cluff:

I know.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

yeah, it, it's, it's,

Kirsty Cluff:

That's what hurts me, to see how, to see how well the girls are doing. And he's not here to see it. And, you know.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I want a pat on the back, don't you?

Kirsty Cluff:

Yeah.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Mm.

Kirsty Cluff:

I wanna, you're doing good, girl. You know. And I actually want an acknowledgement that he would not necessarily have been able to pull this shit off. Because I don't think he would have been able to pull his shit off,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I

Kirsty Cluff:

and I think I've, I've worn, I've worn my widow mask for longer than I should have. Um, but I've also, I've also worn the, the widow t shirt with, with bloody pride at times because I don't, I'm, I'm very emotional. I don't hide my, my tears a lot, but I do try and be stoic for other people when I know that my tears are going to offend them. And, and I try, I have this, I don't want to make other people feel uncomfortable. I only want people to feel happy around me. I hate that, I don't know if you've come across it, and I call it the hungry dog head tilt when they hear you're sorry, they go, oh.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yes,

Kirsty Cluff:

it's like, yeah, it's like when a dog's hungry and it wants your sandwich, oh,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

My dog does it. you say, do you want to walk? And she does it. Yeah, I know exactly

Kirsty Cluff:

get that hungry dog head tilt and they're like, oh, sod off with that, I don't need that.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

And then you have to almost downplay it by going, Oh, I'm fine. It was six years ago. Whereas that makes you sound like you're really cavalier and you don't care, but you do. You just don't want to go right into your grief right

Kirsty Cluff:

That's it, like, I'm not in a place where I want to talk to you. I don't need to talk to you about this right now. So yeah, that, you know, it's,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Come on here and do that. Can't you?

Kirsty Cluff:

they say, they say they're sorry and I'm like, oh, thank you.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

You'll be able to, um, uh, when you've got your episode number, you'll just be able to go listen to episode whatever it is of Widowed AF you see. It's all out there. This is, I found it quite liberating because I could just say to listen to episode, I think I'm episode three, and It's all there. It's all archived and neatly put away for people to be able to access. Um, but yeah, it.

Kirsty Cluff:

a, did you feel like, uh, when people say, um, I don't like the word loss because I didn't lose him.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I'm

Kirsty Cluff:

I lose my keys.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

technically I did, so.

Kirsty Cluff:

did? Yeah.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

But, and when you were saying about the, um, telling the girls, I could, again, I'm going in and out, in and out like a dog at a fair. But it was, um, I did the Googling, you know, how do you tell a child that the parent has died? And again, similar, because I couldn't say daddy's lost at sea.

Kirsty Cluff:

Yeah.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

So I had to just say to them, daddy's dead, even though at that time we didn't know that he was, and that was a very difficult decision to make because hope is what keeps us going. Um, hope is what gets extinguished. I think when you become widowed, but it's also something that will make, could kill you when you're in that moment, because if you won't accept it, nothing can begin. The process can't begin. And you say about the children, you know, if I'd say, well, daddy's missing, they would still be waiting for him. Yeah. Because I said to Monty, the eldest, who was seven, Oh, the police have come about the dog. It took a year to unpick that. So, it just, they, they remember such little details. And, and one of them is, you know, that I'd said it was about the dog, and I'd lied. And, I preached truth and honesty, but in that moment, I panicked.

Kirsty Cluff:

Yeah,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

So, tell me a

Kirsty Cluff:

it's natural for us to protect them.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Of course it is. And, and actually that, can I have one more day? I can remember sitting through the night. And just thinking I'm going to have to break their hearts in the morning. And I almost brought it forward as soon as I heard a movement. I went upstairs and Gosh. Oh. Oh, that took me right back then. It's just awful. Isn't it awful? It is the worst part of it, I have to say. Everything else happens to me and I can cope with that. But what I can't cope with is when it comes to the kids. But, how are they now? How are they now, the girls?

Kirsty Cluff:

Um, yeah, they're, they're, they are We're, we're hurtling towards Monday and it's a tricky one. Meredith's gone to a military boarding school, which is her choice. She wanted to, to go in there, so she's been at a military boarding school since August. Um, and is finding her feet. Um, which, you know, living away from home, it, it's not Hogwarts. Although she says she doesn't, she never thought it would be. I I, I have a sneaky suspicion sometimes that, you know, she kind of thought it was gonna be a bit like Hogwarts and

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I used to read all the Mallory Towers and Twins at St. Clair's books when I was little, you know,

Kirsty Cluff:

Yeah, yeah. Oh, I used to love the Sinclair's books.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah, and I so wanted to go to

Kirsty Cluff:

but, this is it. It's, it's, I don't, yeah, I, Meredith, she's home at the minute. Um, she'll be, she's meant to be going back to boarding school on Sunday night, but that would be the first anniversary that she's ever been away from me for. So I'm kind of, I'm playing it by ear at the minute to see if I actually do take her back for that or not.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

And you have to sort of let them choose to a certain extent, don't you? Just give them a bit of autonomy on

Kirsty Cluff:

13 and she's, she's starting to open up, um, to accept that. That Pete is dead. And I think for a long time she's ignored it. Because she doesn't like to think about it. She doesn't like to, you know, She, sometimes she can be on a hairpin trigger and anything will set her off. Um, and then other times it's, she's really so stoic, you wonder what planet she's on.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah.

Kirsty Cluff:

it's like she's, she's actively ignoring it. Heather's quite tearful because she's, well, she's away just now. And she comes home tomorrow. Um, what she went with a ski trip

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Oh yes, because you told me before we came on it that she's been, she's had an accident hasn't she?

Kirsty Cluff:

The thing is, so yeah, she, she got a heliback yesterday off the top of a mountain. Um, and my first thing was, did you get any pictures of the helicopter?

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Well I was going to say, how desperate am I your family to get in a helicopter Kirstie? Because

Kirsty Cluff:

Exactly. It's like we're destined to be in a chopper at some point, I'm sure. So yeah, she, she was, she was gutted that I wasn't more concerned because you're talking on the phone. You're

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah, You can't be there, you're alive.

Kirsty Cluff:

your neck because you're talking on the phone. So it's fine. Don't worry. Um, but yeah, so she'll come home tomorrow. Um, but she, she, she herself said she's feeling a bit fragile this time, I think, because it is that she was it when he died. But she's known. Sixteen, it's that

Rosie Gill-Moss:

And it's a big chunk of time as well.

Kirsty Cluff:

you know, but

Rosie Gill-Moss:

five funny. Sorry, I'll talk to you. This is where the eye contact is helpful. Um, yeah, I think it's that anything that's a chunk of time. For me, five years felt really symbolic, half a century. Um, And then I'm, I'm, I didn't realize how close our dates are because I'm early March, but it's, I'm sort of letting it happen to me this year, if that makes sense. Uh, I interviewed a friend who, whose dad died when she was not as young as our children, but quite young. And one thing she said to me, it's not gone out yet, but it will, was that, um, she hated being forced to grieve. So, like on the special dates or significant dates. So, Monty, I've I mean, up until recently, we've taken him out of school and we've gone over to the beach. In one year, we both went on scooters up the beach. You know, just do something random. But the others, we don't really make a big deal of the deathiversary. Um, because they're not aware, but I suppose as they get older, they will take more control of it. But my youngest, Tab, she's about to do, well, I need to do the paperwork, um, a child bereavement couple of sessions because Of course, she was six months and you think, oh, well, luckily for her, she hasn't been too scathed. But, of course, there's all the questions, you know, I didn't get to know my daddy, what would daddy think of me now, you know, all. And as I get older and realize that their world isn't normal, because, of course, we live with Holly, who's lost her mum. There's, um, you know, lots of my friends are widowed. I think it's only when they go out into school that they realize they are in the minority. Lots of kids whose parents live apart, but not so many with a dead one.

Kirsty Cluff:

This is it. And, and, and that's, that's such a problem in the schools because I don't think, um, the schools that do have trained staff are few and far between. The schools that have staff that can actually approach the subject of bereavement. in an appropriate and a supportive and a knowledgeable way and come from a personal side of it without, you know, being too, without being about them. We, we, we, we've seen it and, and spoken about it a lot, um, in the widowed groups that schools seem to not be getting it right. There needs to be more support, you know, that they don't get it right.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

sorry, this is interesting because, um, I did a, um, like a presentation to some first year nursing students. And as I, afterwards, I said, schools need something like this, don't they? So I'm, it's in my brain, I haven't made it out yet, that I would like to pull together some sort of, um, training work or just something that, you know, that they could have a resource for schools, basically. Um, and I, Um, potentially could go in and talk if they, if a child suffers from, you know, and help guide them. But, you're right, there isn't much at all, actually. And my eldest son got a bit of counselling, um, at the school he was at at the time. And then I wanted to keep the counsellor. And I said, I'll pay, but could you seek continuity, right? Important. Nope, can't do that, get sacked. So, we've had to seek out and pay for all, apart from holding on and letting go, all the support that we've had, the children have had. At times, particularly when I was sort of in the reeds on my own, it was in a cost that I couldn't really afford, but I've just, you know, if I could afford one, I could afford to pay for therapy for my kid, right?

Kirsty Cluff:

you bend over and pay what you need to pay. You know, you bend over backwards to, to accommodate it because you know that it need, it's needed,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

the long term implications, if you don't, are so much worse. And, you know, I was reluctant, I was a reluctant therapy goer, but I've been going for two years now, and I don't see myself stopping. I might reduce how often I go as things get better, but I think as long as I'm doing this, I'm going to need an outlet myself.

Kirsty Cluff:

Yeah. Well that's it.'cause you, you'll, you will automatically absorb what, what we are sharing with you, you will take that burden on as well.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

yeah, and it

Kirsty Cluff:

But with, I mean, with the schools thing, uh, Scotty's little soldiers, it is only a for bereaved military children, but they, they have developed the most amazing pacs. Um, and every year we have packs sent out to us to if their kids are starting a new school or if it's around, um, Remembering Sunday and they send packs out to us to hand into the schools that are really supportive. They're full of information and they're full of resources for the schools to use to be able to support our kids. But that should be across.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Shouldn't it?

Kirsty Cluff:

bereavement. It shouldn't just be across, I mean, we're so lucky that Scotty's Little Soldiers exists, but, you know, I, I do feel guilty sometimes that it's only a hand, you know, a handful of my friends that are able to benefit from, from their support. I'm so grateful for their support and it's a shame that we can't share it, you

Rosie Gill-Moss:

And there is support out there, but it's, it's over, it's overstretched. I mean, COVID didn't help. Um, so there's waiting lists. And also, I mean, I booked both my boys onto, um, this child bereavement course and Hector just turned up and refused to go. So that's the other element with children is they don't want to do it

Kirsty Cluff:

yeah, Meredith doesn't want to engage. She's only, she's only just agreed to engage, but it's been years that we've been trying to get support for her.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Somebody told me, um, and it was a friend whose husband died, um, and her son, the counsellor, would take him for a walk on the beach. So they'd talk and walk. I thought, isn't that, isn't that a good idea with, particularly with, with teenagers. So, I don't know if there's anybody that could help with that. But, um, no.

Kirsty Cluff:

I think the problem that Meredith had was that people were trying to, to, to find common ground with her, but she was so dead against it. But then there was one, one teacher had, had her, one teacher who was in her fifties, um, had, her mother had sadly passed away, um, through the school holidays. So she'd come back into school and said, Oh, I'm just like you now because my, my mummy's dead. And Meredith, being Meredith, she's my child, she's very much like me, just went, You're nothing like me because you're so much older. And I lost my, I lost my dad when I was five. You're fifty. You know, and it was like, oh, uh, I was kind of, I was approached by that member of staff and, and, and asked to encourage Meredith to apologise because she'd been rude. I'm like, uh, I certainly will not be doing that because you were bang out of order. At what

Rosie Gill-Moss:

and, and.

Kirsty Cluff:

think it is the same losing a parent at the age of 50 as is a losing a parent at the age of five? Get a grip?

Rosie Gill-Moss:

And also grief, it's not a, we can't compare and,

Kirsty Cluff:

No.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I mean, I may have said this before the podcast, but the police liaison officer that came, she ran a lost dogs charity and she compared Losing Ben to very much like that. And honestly, this woman, she's stank of fags, talked about her dogs all the

Kirsty Cluff:

my God.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

But I did, I just said to you, you have to leave my house now, you have to get out of my house now, because otherwise I'm going to say something I regret. And I never

Kirsty Cluff:

mean, you see that we can't compare, but I think we always do. So in inadvertently we do. I know, I know. I, I, I have this really weird, almost guilt. That I'm a military widow Because I didn't lose Pete at war. There was no baddie involved There was you know There was there was no wicked person at the end of a weapon that took his life from him because he was defending our country Um, but there are other people that that will belittle Pete's death. Oh, well, at least it wasn't at war like death is death lot, you know

Rosie Gill-Moss:

And you haven't got an enemy to hate?

Kirsty Cluff:

with that, but I, I feel sometimes like I'm an imposter in military widowed circles and almost like I should be, I should be embarrassed that Pete didn't have a more,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Dramatic?

Kirsty Cluff:

grand death or grand, do you know what I mean? I feel embarrassed that I'm with these women whose husbands literally had their lives taken from them. by war or by conflict. Um, and I feel a bit like a, not, not a charlatan. So I can't think of the right word, but

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I, I, you'd be surprised how many people I sit across from in these. They feel an element of guilt or that they don't fit into a particular bracket of widowhood. So I think it's all tied up in this feeling of like, who the fuck am I now? Like where do I fit? And I think it does take time. It takes time and it takes finding people who've been through similar, and I'm talking, talking, I'm thinking about Emma Gray. I dunno if you've heard Emma's episode, but she's a military, um, widow, but her husband died of cancer. Um, and I think her girls aren't. It's a similar range to yours, so maybe with stock we get our sequins on. Um,

Kirsty Cluff:

We're both horses as well. We're both

Rosie Gill-Moss:

You are, yeah!

Kirsty Cluff:

had that chat,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah, and Emma's

Kirsty Cluff:

as well, like with cancer and disease, when, so I have this, so my, my partner's also widowed. Um,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I wanted to ask you before we finished about this partner, so we'll I'll let you finish and then we'll just I'm

Kirsty Cluff:

yeah, uh, well, we, we have this ongoing, um, Not, it's not a playful conversation at all, but it's an ongoing kind of, you had it worse, not you had it worse, not because, you know, and Andrew's wife was diagnosed with cancer. Um, and, and the, the battled and fought and, and, and, you know, they put so much energy and, and, and hope and prayer into, and, and, and to help her. beating it. Um, but disease, any disease, whether it's, you know, cancer or, you know, diabetes or heart disease or, or Hodgkin's or all these awful, awful ways for people to, to, to, to, to die. Um, they all diminish our loved one. They all take away and they, they break down their characters and their physical and emotional and mental. Strength and what makes them, them and part of me can't help but feel lucky that the man that, that I put in the ground was the man that I loved through and through and, and his experience of, of death hadn't twisted or, or, or contorted his outlook on life or,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

your relationship. Mm.

Kirsty Cluff:

Yeah, you know, it, it, and I, I just, it would break my heart to have to feel so useless. I suppose when, when, when your partner dies of an illness, you, you, you feel, or you must feel, so un the, the, the inability to help, to fix it, to make it

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Completely impotent, you can't do anything.

Kirsty Cluff:

feel like you're on the sidelines watching this horrendous thing. Um, and, and you're watching all these things happen to your person that you love and, and it's changing them. Um,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

and I've said similar actually, because initially I felt quite a bit of envy because I wanted to be able to say goodbye and have those conversations, you know, John and Sarah would, they were able to talk about, you know, if he was to meet somebody and what she wanted to, you know, they had that kind of, this is what I want to happen conversation. But much like you, I bid farewell to my gorgeous, young, fit, healthy husband. And that's how I picture him. So I had, didn't watch him become skeletal or angry or even violent. I, I didn't have any of that. He remains 42 and perfect James Dean, wasn't it? Lived, uh, lived fast, die young or something. Um, it's a mixed blessing though. It, there is, there is this, John and I did the same thing. You know, we talk about the, the. Watching the person that you love literally sort of deteriorate and disappear before you compared with that sudden shock. And you can't, it's not a competition because each is equally shit. But we all kind of, you know, yeah, there is no, there's no really no good way to die, especially when you're young and especially when you're leaving behind children. It's, it's, it's

Kirsty Cluff:

find it, um, odd that so many people have, have said to me that even though they knew it was coming, even though they had time, you, you can't ever prepare for it. And not everyone had those conversations. Pete and I had conversations about what he would want at the funeral, purely because if he, you know, if he died in conflict, what would he want? I had to make sure we had it right. So we, we'd had these conversations beforehand. Um, you know, Pete had a will because you weren't allowed to deploy without one. Um, I find myself sometimes a bit envious of other military widows when their husbands have died in conflict because they get a letter. Your, your spouse's maid to, before they deploy, they have to sit and write a letter to her. If you're reading this letter type of scenario. And, um, I, I, I wish I had that.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah.

Kirsty Cluff:

Pete came home, it was destroyed.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Oh, okay.

Kirsty Cluff:

know, every time Pete came home, it was destroyed. So, which is brilliant, but I remember packing Pete's things up, just hoping. That I would find one of these letters that he not remembered to, to get rid of so that I could have a little, a little bit of that from, you know, one last word from him, you know,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

On

Kirsty Cluff:

um, and it's, it's envious in, in a awful way. That, you know, because nobody wants that kind of letter, but you know, there's, there's some wonderful songs that I've got about, you know, this is my last letter and, and they're wonderful. And I, I, I sometimes feel really quite envious that I never got that, that we, we didn't get to be as, you know, I didn't get to have that contact from him past his, past his death.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

And it's something tangible that you can keep, right? Because I don't know if you had the same thing, but Ben didn't have much stuff. He's wearing his wedding ring. Um, he didn't, he had a very inexpensive watch, and he wasn't the materialistic kind of guy. So there's not much stuff, but on the night before his memorial, because, not a funeral, because no body, but, I just happened to open a cupboard in one of the kids rooms, and I found in that cupboard his wedding speech. Just a typed copy of

Kirsty Cluff:

Oh wow.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

And it's I just remember that it broke me, obviously, cause, to see those words, and how much he loved me. So I had it framed and put in the downstairs loo, at my old house. And I'm gonna have it reframed, cause it was just put in a crappy, like, um, Ikea frame. And Get it in and restored and just, and I'm gonna keep it. And I also, which is not like, because I'm not a particularly kind of Pinteresty type of person, but I had this idea where he did a hand print, I did a hand, you know, let it dry and each of the kids put the hand print on and, uh, I have that, so I have his hand print and I added tabs to it, framed it, and it's in her bedroom. So it's, you are just so desperate for any piece of them, aren't you?

Kirsty Cluff:

Yeah.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Now, before I let you go, I just want, if you're comfortable, and it's, did you say your partner's name is Andrew?

Kirsty Cluff:

Yeah.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah, if you, just, just a very brief, because I know one of the most frequent questions to widows is relationships afterwards. And we are damned if we do, and we're damned if we don't. And. I know that building a relationship as a fully grown adult rather than essentially a child, which I was when Ben and I was like 19, um, it's, you come with all the baggage of being widowed, you come with children, you come with hurt, pain, you know, there's, we always say there's four of us in this marriage, there's not two. So just a little bit for the listeners about how you guys have managed that. And particularly with the girls as well, because that can be problematic content.

Kirsty Cluff:

it is tricky. It is a work in progress always. Um, I think what helped is that Andrew and I knew each other. Um, so Andrew and I met many, many years ago when I was four years old. So that was

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Oh wow!

Kirsty Cluff:

his dad, uh, used to jump out of perfectly good planes with my mum. So, our parents parachuted together, um, um, so we met at an airfield, at Brunton Airfield near Seahouses, and um, so we knew each other, we were family friends, and uh, that never changed. Andrew's mum and dad were invited to my wedding, uh, and you know, they, they attended the wedding and we, we, we had, we had a lovely friendship that was. We saw each other a lot up until we were teenagers and Andrew, um, became this really handsome, fit athlete because he used to swim for Great Britain and he was on a pedestal, you know, I'm a bit younger than him, um, only by a few years, so I won't

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Take it, take it.

Kirsty Cluff:

a little bit younger than him. Um, but you know, I had him on this pedestal because he was this fit athlete and he was Going places and he was amazing as big tall guy and you know, he he he went off and and and swam and then Ended up competing in mountain biking and and loads of other sporty things, you know typical Pedestal man, um, and I married I married Pete and I was happy he married Vivian He was happy, you know, it was there was never anything romantic never and Then the week Pete died Um Pretty much the same week Pete died, Vivian was diagnosed with bowel cancer.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Oh, I've

Kirsty Cluff:

And I remember having this awful, awful sinking feeling because in that, in those moments when I heard that, um, it was a, Oh my God, he's got all this to come.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah.

Kirsty Cluff:

You know, he's got all this to come. It's, it's laid out in front of him and, and, um, it, it was. It's awful to, to think that somebody that I knew and, and that was such a family friend was, was going to feel like this at some point, the same as me. And um, you know, they, as I say, they pursued treatments and, and when Vivian did, did pass, um, I had been in, I'd been in sporadic contact with them. Um, I'm trying to offer support and signpost information that I knew from, you know, my own experiences and from my friends, um, previously, but then when, when Vivian did pass again, I was, I was, you know, trying to support, do you know about this fund that there's this bereavement benefit that you could qualify for? You know, have you looked into this for helping to, to look at funeral costs and have you done that? And all the paperwork, all the sad men that say, I know how many

Rosie Gill-Moss:

became a grief sherpa.

Kirsty Cluff:

Because you might need, you know, 10, I would always say to order 10 because, you know, All this awful saddening that I was lucky because I had a military support worker that went through all this with me. But if you're not in the military, you don't get someone coming round to your house and putting forms in front of you and telling you that you need to do this.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

My mum and dad did it, but.

Kirsty Cluff:

that there's this pension pot here and there's that. You have to go hunting for all

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Oh yeah.

Kirsty Cluff:

And it can be overwhelming, so I wanted to try and help. Um, and it just. Um, because I understood in a way that his other friends didn't understand, we, we had this, you know, once, once a month I'd check in with him and then that became, you know, once, once a fortnight, then that became once a week and I, our friendship just, we just got really close, really close. And my mum will, will argue till the end of her days that she saw this coming, um, and I'll let her have that one. That's fine. Cause she's. But.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

She nearly got in a helicopter.

Kirsty Cluff:

Annoyingly, she's never wrong. She's, yeah, she's got this sick sense about everything. I can't hide much from her.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Mine too.

Kirsty Cluff:

Um, but we found something in each other's company that neither of us thought was going to be possible again. And, you know, people talk about widow's fire and the loneliness for me was crippling. And the The craving of, of intimacy, the, the, was so overwhelming. Um, and it was, I didn't understand how I could feel so lonely in a room full of people. And, and then at night when the kids were in bed, and everything was so quiet. And it was just me and the dogs and the kids were upstairs and you could hear their story tapes playing. And it was just overwhelming. And, and then. You know, you, you get to this point where, when Pete died, I was 36. Um, even though my birthday afterwards, I thought I was turning 38, but was only turning 37, but I'd made myself older, God knows why. And even now I get confused sometimes.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

So do I

Kirsty Cluff:

what, what, age am I going to be?

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I've stopped counting.

Kirsty Cluff:

You know, I just call that my widow brain. Um, but you know, I was like, I'm 36 years old. I can't possibly fathom. a way of, of feeling like this for the rest of my life. I, I can't be on my own. I'm, you know, I'm a, I'm a hot blooded female and I've got to feel like there's more to me than being a widow. And then suppose, and with army life, you're, you're, you're, you're a military wife, you know, you're, uh, that, that's who you are, you're Pete's wife. And, and all of a sudden Pete wasn't around anymore for me to be his wife. I still very much felt like his wife, but. He's not here. So who am I? And I, I lost who I was. And I think a huge part of me died with Pete purely because I, I was that person because

Rosie Gill-Moss:

version of

Kirsty Cluff:

me that person. I'd grown into that woman through being with him from, you know, being in my twenties, you know, and up to that age of losing him. Um, so I had to, I had to really forge a new me because the old me couldn't exist without Pete. Because he, he was such an integral part of who I was. And, so, I knew I didn't want to be on my own. I knew, I knew, I knew there was more in me to give and, and, and to, that wanted love and that, that deserved love and, and that wanted affection again. Um, and. I found that in Andrew, which we, we, we never kind of set out to be like, all I wanted to do was support another widow the way I had previously with people in our, in our group, how you and I met that, that wonderfully shitty group, which isn't shitty at all, but it's, we've got the shittest thing in common, you know, it's like, it's

Rosie Gill-Moss:

it's the club nobody wants to join, isn't it? The most exclusive club in the world, but nobody wants to be in it. I'm really

Kirsty Cluff:

a widow and you'll know, this is all you, you may agree or disagree, but I think being with a widow. Um, gives you. Such a better relationship because you don't have to hide your grief moments or your sorrow or where you're completely overwhelmed and I mean I've still got boxes I haven't unpacked and I moved from Germany six years ago.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

yeah. I've got, I've, I also have some boxes in the basement and things like when I went to have my wedding and engagement remade, um, from Ben, um, John paid for it because he was like, you, you need to be able to wear this. And actually I don't have it on right this second, but I quite like having one on each hand because two husbands, just one of them doesn't get a say anymore.

Kirsty Cluff:

This is it.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Well, okay.

Kirsty Cluff:

Do you find the one that doesn't get the say anymore gets the blame for everything when the kids do something wrong? I'm like oh yeah oh that's your dad that is yeah

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Totally, yeah. But when they do really well, I'm like, that's because I took such good

Kirsty Cluff:

Oh completely I take all the praise and Pete. Gets blamed with all the, oh, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

And I don't, I don't know if it's the same with the girls, but with my boys, primarily the oldest, it's just looking so much like him. And that's quite uncanny as well, when they start to look like carbon copies of their dead parent.

Kirsty Cluff:

And I have that. I mean, my girls have both taken to Andrew very differently. Merida

Rosie Gill-Moss:

oh yes.

Kirsty Cluff:

because she doesn't want to accept that her father is dead. That has only just come out, really, in the last couple of months of she and I talking very openly and calmly. Cough, cough. She feels that if she accepts Andrew and his son Riley into our lives, it means that her dad's not coming back.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah.

Kirsty Cluff:

and that's hard to hear because to me, it's a given that he's not coming back. I've never thought about the possibility that he wasn't coming back. Um, because

Rosie Gill-Moss:

No.

Kirsty Cluff:

gone anywhere. You know, and that was my whole thing. No, he didn't go somewhere, darling. He's, you know, he's dead. We can't change that. I wish to God I could, but I can't. But

Rosie Gill-Moss:

But that's all you can do. It's

Kirsty Cluff:

well this is it, but Meredith has, she, she, she is, she's fighting her demons, but she's facing them and I'm so proud of her, um, for wanting to face them at this stage. Heather, on the other hand, I mean, not that I'm not proud of her, because I really am, but she is so full of love for Andrew, and she has embraced Andrew very early on, she, she, she opened her heart to him, um, she wasn't, you know, she, she wasn't not going to give her heart, you know, And she calls him dad and she's connected and you know, he loves that Riley doesn't call me mum, but he calls me Kirstie and Riley was five when his mum passed away. Um, sorry, um, my

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Don't worry. It's either you or me. I've just been sneezing.

Kirsty Cluff:

and then

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I'm sorry. You can continue.

Kirsty Cluff:

it's, it's, it's, it doesn't, I don't mind Riley calling me mum or. Kirstie, or you could call me shitbag if you really wanted. I might be a bit

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Draw the line at that.

Kirsty Cluff:

you know

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Well, Holly asked me quite early on if she could call me mum. So her mum, Sarah, is her mummy. And, um, and again, pictures everywhere. Much more things from a woman. Um, and I, she asked me if she could call me mum quite early on. But she was six, and I think a six year old girl, particularly, they just, she needed a mother. And, um, and I have, it's been an honour to be her mother. So, um, but. It gets tricky, I think, when you, when it comes to sort of parenting and things as they get older, because when they're little, you just sort of, they're all, it's like carnage, just get on with it. But as they get older and become individuals, you do have to start to adapt your parenting style a little bit. And I do think that in deep rooted trauma, which will be in kids who've lost a parent young, you can see it sort of start to come out with the hormones, but I've never done this before. You've never done this before. We're navigating, we're learning on the job. And I think we're doing an all right job of it, you know, one

Kirsty Cluff:

my two are still alive I'm quite impressed that they're still breathing

Rosie Gill-Moss:

yours by the skin of her teeth.

Kirsty Cluff:

Yeah, one of them by the skin of her teeth, yeah

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Well, Kirstie, I am going to, I'm going to draw it to a close now because I realized I have, um, I was late getting to you and now I've kept you for ages, but I, I've really enjoyed talking to you today. I feel like I've, I know you better. I feel like I understand your situation better. I feel like I know Pete better actually. Um, it's. Yeah, I'm so proud of you for doing this, because it is scary to sit and go back into it. Especially, you don't always want that way of talking to me, you don't always want to. So, um, thank you for putting yourself through this. I hope that you find it cathartic. I know it can leave you a little jarred, so just, you know, go easy on it. Sweet cup of tea, that's what you need. Um, and I just wish you every happiness. And I am so glad that love's come back into your life. And I hope that the girls continue to fly. Tell Meredith I want to see more ballet dancing. Didn't Modern know she was ballet or

Kirsty Cluff:

No, she, she doesn't do modern, so Meredith is, she, uh, does contemporary, uh, uh, she does

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Fine.

Kirsty Cluff:

contemporary, acro and lyrical, but she's, she's, she's, she's not, she's got to do Highland dancing at boarding school now, so it's a completely different genre that she's trying.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Fun fact for you, I'm not a dancer. Um, I was asked, I don't think I was asked to leave ballet. Tap, I wasn't interested in it. And Scottish country dancing. Every Saturday, three years.

Kirsty Cluff:

Kayleys are your jam. We need a Kayley then. Ha

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Jesus I was about eight! Um,

Kirsty Cluff:

ha! Oh no, no! You've thrown that gauntlet down now. Now you've just admitted that.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

You'll get me out on Woodstock!

Kirsty Cluff:

So, uh, uh, uh, at your, at your widowed gathering, I

Rosie Gill-Moss:

it, I'll be

Kirsty Cluff:

I

Rosie Gill-Moss:

river dancing across the stage.

Kirsty Cluff:

Yeah, do it.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I think my mum just wanted rid of me for an hour on a Saturday morning, truth be told Kirsty, but that'll be why my kid does three hours on a Saturday. Anyway, on that nice note, because I'll leave us laughing, I will say goodbye to you now, um, but I Only temporarily, I hope, and to our listeners, um, I know that they'll be joining me and thanking you today. So if you've got any questions around Kirsty's episode, um, I can't tell you when this will be going out because I have no idea, but it'll probably be March time. So if any of the listeners do have questions, I'm sure that you'll be happy to answer. Um, so send them in to me and just look after yourselves and one foot in front of the other guys. Let's, uh, keep muddling through together.

Kirsty Cluff:

As always,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Just keep fucking going. My pleasure, darling. Take care of yourself. Goodbye.

Kirsty Cluff:

You too.

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