Clive Smith lost his wife to PH and wrote this piece just a few weeks later. Keen to help others know they are not alone in grief, here he shares his experiences of Alero’s illness and how he said goodbye.
“Alero and I met online in 2009 and married six years later. I loved her for so many reasons.
Yes, she was stunningly beautiful on the outside, but she was beautiful inside as well. She was loyal, hardworking, funny, interesting, kind, and selfless – but she did not pander to whims. She was tough but understanding. She was the most introverted/ extroverted person I have ever known. One moment so gregarious, the next so shy. Alero could be demure and sensitive but rarely showed the latter part to anyone other than me.
I will miss her terribly for the rest of my life, but I have the fondest memories to cling to and will try my best to mirror her outlook and well-meaning actions to all.
Alero was diagnosed with PH in August 2018 but her symptoms were evident a few months before that. At first, I was relieved it wasn’t lung cancer (as that was initially suspected) but then we were both in denial for a while.
I tried hard to support Alero but as she was so selfless, she didn’t want negativity (I am naturally pessimistic, and she was optimistic – so we were sort of the wrong way around).
However, I did everything I felt that I could for Alero. She felt she was often ‘putting me out’ but regardless of the things you should do for your partner if they are ill, I did them out of my total and undying love – rather than an honourable duty.
Alero died on 9th November 2020 and the hospital team did their best to support me. I had some help from my local mental health team and was prescribed tablets for anxiety, depression and sleep deprivation, but I stopped taking them as I felt they were suppressing my grief and leaving me numb.
We held a two-hour Celebration of Life for Alero, that only 15 people were allowed to attend due to COVID-19 restrictions. As a surprise, her niece played Bob Dylan’s ‘Make You Feel My Love’ for me on the saxophone, which was simply beautiful.
The funeral was held later, with only 30 people allowed to attend, and no wake was able to take place afterwards.
If I could speak to Alero now, I would say ‘I love you’, which is what I said every day. We were both middle-aged, but we would always be sending the pulsating red heart emoji on WhatsApp to each other.
I am thoroughly heartbroken, and I’ll do everything I can to find a cure for pulmonary hypertension – whatever that may be.”
- A tribute fund set up in memory of Alero raised over £2,300 for the PHA UK. We are very grateful for this kind support from her family and friends, and to Clive for sharing his story so honestly.