Elene Marsden’s Ipswich Community Radio show will be a tribute to her husband, Steve

Elene Marsden at the Great Wall of China, on the holiday she was due to take with her husband, Steve

Elene Marsden at the Great Wall of China, on the holiday she was due to take with her husband, Steve. When he died within six months of being diagnosed with bowel cancer she pressed on with their plans alone, making the trip with him in her heart as a way of coping with her grief. Photo: Elene Marsden. - Credit: Archant

Since her husband died a year ago Elene Marsden has discovered there are many ways of handling grief. She told Sheena Grant what she has learned and how she will be marking the first anniversary of his death.

Elene Marsden in Beijing.
Photo: Elene Marsden

Elene Marsden in Beijing. Photo: Elene Marsden - Credit: Archant

Tomorrow, Elene Marsden will have been a widow for exactly a year.

It will, as anyone who has ever lost a loved one knows, be the latest in a line of landmark ‘first’ occasions she has had to deal with in the 12 months since her husband, Steve, died. And, along with birthdays and Christmas, it will be one of the most difficult.

But Elene is nothing if not courageous and will mark the day by broadcasting a tribute to Steve on her new weekly Ipswich Community Radio show.

As well as being a memorial to her husband she hopes the show will offer comfort and support to those who, like her, are grieving.

Steve and Elene Marsden.
Photo: Elene Marsden.

Steve and Elene Marsden. Photo: Elene Marsden. - Credit: Archant

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Elene, who lives in Ipswich, has chosen to handle her grief through action and training as a community radio presenter is all part of that conscious effort to embrace new experiences.

It is one of a number of things she’s signed up for in the last few months, since returning home from a two-month solo holiday that took her across continents to Azerbaijan, Dubai, Hong Kong, Japan, China and Russia. She and Steve had been planning to make the overland journey together, following the route of a trip he had taken in 2015. But when he fell ill with bowel cancer and died within six months of diagnosis Elene decided to press on with their plans and travel alone, with him in her heart.

Elene and Steve met in south Wales and had been together 46 years - since she was just 13 and he was 14.

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“I know grief is different for everyone,” she says. “But organising the journey gave me a focus that helped me find a way through. I suppose making the trip alone was brave but on the other hand the pain of losing someone that important to you is so intense that the world in its enormity somehow doesn’t feel that scary a place in comparison.

Elene and Steve Marsden in Barry, south Wales, in 2016.
Photo: Elene Marsden.

Elene and Steve Marsden in Barry, south Wales, in 2016. Photo: Elene Marsden. - Credit: Archant

“The holiday was emotional at times, especially visiting places I knew Steve had been to and when I said goodbye to my son who lives in Japan and to a friend of Steve’s who had looked after me in Shanghai. But I wanted to do it to prove to myself I could be out there, miles from home all on my own. I can honestly say I didn’t feel frightened once. There was so much love coming towards me from people who I met and told what had happened to me. I wasn’t expecting that.

“Coming home was difficult but I try to remind myself of everything I have got. I can choose to be sad about things or choose to be grateful for all the things I have in my life. I’m reading a book called The Five Invitations, by Frank Ostaseski, which is all about discovering what death can teach us about living fully. It’s not sad, just really uplifting and has been hugely helpful to me. One of the lessons of the book is not to wait but to welcome everything. That’s what I’m trying to embrace.”

Since returning from her trip and not sure what shape she wanted her life to take, Elene, whose first grandchild was born in September, has also done a fashion styling course and trained in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (a kind of thought and behaviour training). She has branched out from her video marketing business, helping firms comply with new data protection legislation after doing a training course in London, and is hoping to do more travelling. And, of course, dedicating a day a week to her community radio show, which draws on her love of charity shop fashion.

“For the first part of the show guests come on and talk about the music that has inspired them,” she says. “For the show I am doing as a tribute to Steve, my eldest son Ryan will be taking part and interviewing me and I will be playing some of the music that’s been important to Steve and me over the years. I know it will be emotional but it will be a way of remembering Steve and hopefully helping others who have been bereaved too.

“There are times when I cry and times that are difficult. I do go out a lot but there are times when I am on my own, getting used to my own company and learning to be by myself, but I feel very strongly that I want to grab experiences and not shy away from them. I know grief is different for everyone but whoever you are there are things you can do. Just find what is right for you.”

? Elene Marsden’s Ipswich Community Radio Preloved Chica Time Capsule show is broadcast live on Wednesdays, 105.7fm, from 1-2pm or go to catch up online at www.mixcloud.com/betteractnow/favorites/.

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