Skip to content
Please donate

Ted's story

An older man stares sadly out of the window

A voice to talk to

Ted, a storyteller from our Christmas appeal, tells us how Age UK has helped him to feel less alone since losing his beloved wife Jess.



Ted doesn’t like the winter. Having spent many happy summers on the Norfolk Broads with his beloved wife Jess, on sunny days Ted loves wandering to the beachfront near his home to reflect on memories and watch the waves.

“I try to get out as often as I can – especially in the summer. I get a bit of air, and do a bit of people watching,” Ted tells us. But as the weather turns colder, opportunities to get out and about become sparser. “It’s harder in the winter,” Ted explains. “It’s depressing, and it’s long.”

When 88-year-old Ted stays home, where he lives alone, he can’t help but think of Jess – and the space she left behind when she died 18 months ago. “The hardest part is being sat here on your own,” says Ted . “I miss being able to give Jess a little cuddle and a kiss. She was my life.”

Decades of devotion

Jess had always been there. Having met in primary school, Ted and Jess began dating as teenagers, and the pair went on to enjoy a loving marriage that lasted 68 years.

“We were glued together,” says Ted. “If we decorated, we did it together. If she was cooking, I would help her. If I was repairing something, she was there helping me. That’s how close we were.”

A 1980s photo of a middle-aged couple
Happy memories with Jess
A 1980s photo of a middle-aged couple
Happy memories with Jess

Living in London for most of their married life, after work on Fridays Ted and Jess loved nothing more than running away to Norfolk for the weekend to relax, do some fishing, and socialise with friends. “We had a big boat, and we’d have people round for lunch or we’d go to another couple’s boat for dinner,” recalls Ted. “We had some lovely memories.” These fond experiences of Norfolk inspired Ted and Jess to seek out a peaceful retirement there. But their happiness would eventually be disrupted by a life-changing diagnosis.

“Jess had dementia,” reveals Ted. “I didn’t go to anyone to ask for help. She was my Jess, and I was there to look after her. It was very hard at times, but I would do it again.” Ted dedicated himself to being Jess’ sole carer. But as her condition progressed and health declined, coping with her care became increasingly difficult – and Ted realised the time had come to get support. “I used to do whatever I could to make her comfortable,” he says. “But I just got to the point where I realised that if I got ill, I wouldn’t be able to look after her. We found a care home, and she moved into there. I was really upset because I didn’t want to lose her.”

Shortly after moving into the care home, Jess passed away. For the first time in his entire adult life, Ted was without her.

She was my Jess, and I was there to look after her.


Adjusting to being alone

After years of caring for Jess, Ted suddenly felt lost and lacking a purpose. “I used to walk from room to room not knowing what to do with myself. Part of my life had gone.” And although Ted appreciated his two sons calling every day, he still felt increasingly lonely at home on his own.

When Christmas arrived, Ted couldn’t face the usual traditions. Jess had always loved decorating every inch of the house – and continued to insist on putting the tree up, even as her health worsened – but without her, the tinsel stayed packed away. “Christmas is just another weekend now that Jess isn’t here.”

A new friend has helped Ted to adjust. After calling the Age UK Advice Line while looking after Jess, Ted was referred to the telephone friendship service for a regular chat. Ever since, he speaks to Lisa on Monday afternoons. Their conversations have tracked all the major life changes that Ted has faced over the past three years – from Jess moving into a care home, to dealing with her loss.

An older man smiles while talking on the phone in his armchair
Calls with Lisa have helped
An older man smiles while talking on the phone in his armchair
Calls with Lisa have helped

“My chats with Lisa are really helpful,” Ted says. “When Jess was in care, we chatted about that all the time… because when you’re in this sort of situation, it can get very lonely. But I can talk to Lisa about everything – if I feel a bit down, I tell her. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. She’s absolutely brilliant, and she’s become a friend.”

Ted still misses Jess and their conversations every day, but having someone friendly to talk to has helped him feel less lonely. “I loved her to bits, and I still do,” Ted says of Jess. “We used to finish each other’s sentences. When you’ve been together with someone that long, you know exactly what the other is going to say. I think people don’t realise how important conversation is. There’s nothing like a voice to talk to.”


Our other Christmas storytellers

Terry's story

Support from Age UK's telephone services has helped Terry to reconnect with life again in the aftermath of heartbreaking loss.

Gwen's story

The changing pace of Gwen's life had left her feeling lonely, but chats with her telephone befriender have made all the difference.

Share this page

Last updated: Oct 30 2023

Become part of our story

Sign up today

Back to top