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“I held a joint funeral for my daughter and husband after they died days apart and found new love with a widower who also lost his wife and child – remarriage has helped both of us to heal.”

A mother whose daughter and husband died days apart has found new love with a widower who lost his wife and child – and says remarriage helped them heal. Alice Palmer, 68, was a lifelong caregiver to daughter Beth, 20, who suffered from cerebral palsy, scoliosis, blindness and epilepsy. Alice’s world was turned upside down when her husband John, 61, was diagnosed with cancer in March 2019. At the same time, Beth’s health began to deteriorate – and Alice spent the day visiting them both in different hospitals. Alice was devastated when she received the news that Beth had died on August 26 – just six days later John also died. Heartbroken Alice had to organize a double funeral for Beth and John, with their coffins next to each other. But almost three years later, Alice has remarried – after meeting her new husband, Lee Palmer, 58, on a support site to bring grieving widows and widowers together. She married Lee, a painter and decorator, in March 2022 after they began speaking as friends because they shared similar experiences. Like Alice, Lee had lost a child and his wife — and their relationship blossomed as they supported each other through their traumas. Alice, from Anfield, Liverpool, said: “When Beth and John died I was devastated. I never thought I would ever find love again, I just felt a deep sadness and loneliness like there was no one to be close to. “Coming back into dating I was very cautious after what I had been through – the fear of losing her and being hurt again. But we’ve both been through it – we both have doubts at times, but it’s a relief and a comfort to love and be loved again. “You have to learn to live with the loss or it will consume you — it’s not easy, but you have to move on.” I personally feel sorry when people just don’t find new love — you only get one life and you have to make the best of it.” Lee said, “You shouldn’t lose your children before you die, it shouldn’t happen. “After losing Joe and Michelle I realized that none of my close friends or family had lost anyone like that and it was hard. When I decided to join this group it felt good to be able to talk to other people who had also lost their children and spouse. “After talking to Alice online for a while, I thought, ‘I like this woman, I like her a lot’ and I wanted to meet her. “When we met, it just clicked. “Now we’re married and it’s nice to feel alive again. “I’ve been on my own for nine or ten months and now I have someone to look forward to when I get home from work.” Alice’s daughter Beth was hypoxic at birth and suffered from tetraplegic cerebral palsy, scoliosis, blindness as a result and epilepsy. Alice has been Beth’s carer all her life and the mother-daughter duo were very close. In March 2019, her husband John was diagnosed with liver cancer after experiencing chest pains. Just months later, in June 2019, Beth’s condition took a devastating turn — after she woke up in pain and ended up in intensive care. John’s cancer was ruled incurable around the same time and by August he had been transferred to a local hospice to spend his final days. For weeks, Alice traveled back and forth between Beth’s intensive care unit and John’s hospice to support them both at the same time. But she received a devastating phone call on Aug. 26, 2019, revealing her daughter had died — aged 20. Alice said, “I was expecting the news but when it came I still didn’t quite believe it.” I wish I had been with her, I was 10 minutes away having just visited John at the hospice. “I didn’t want to tell John because he was so ill, but eventually we had to tell him.” But things only got worse for the heartbroken mother when she discovered just six days later, on September 1, that John had also died. So Alice planned a joint funeral for John and Beth – with a pink coffin for Beth and a traditional one for John, side by side. Alice made sure Beth wore a nice dress for the funeral so she could look like Audrey Hepburn. Alice said, “I think having to organize the double funeral was the worst part, it was so sad.” Then walking behind the two coffins in the church at the funeral was devastating.” Alice was so traumatized that she couldn’t was able to sleep at home for months and stayed with sisters because the house felt so empty. One way she dealt with the grief was by joining a website for widows and widowers to support each other through their losses. It was then that she first spoke to Lee – who lost his wife Michelle, 59, to a sudden heart attack in 2019 after losing his son Joe, 17, to sepsis in 2013. Lee, from Colchester, Essex, and Alice bonded over each other’s losses after they started chatting in January 2020. They spoke as friends at first – but eventually suspected they might have a deeper connection. Alice said: ” Similar experiences brought us together, but we had to meet in person to see if there was a spark.” They met for the first time in June 2020 – and for a weekend the shreds flew together. Alice said: “I was very wary of going back together but I didn’t want to be alone all the time. “I’m a very needy person — I wanted to be loved back after everything.” In January 2021, Lee moved to Liverpool to live with Alice and the couple married on March 22, 2022. Alice said she wears an emblem of Beth on her dress, while Lee wore one of Joe’s on his lapel. Although Beth and Joe weren’t there to celebrate, Alice said it was a “happy day” for both of them – and next month they’ll be celebrating a year of marriage. “You need to remodel,” she said. “We’ve both seen a lot of people on this widow’s page who have given up hope of ever being happy again. “Some people just seem to be waiting to die. And that’s such a waste. “From my point of view you have to learn to live with your loss or it will eat you up. You have to move on. You have to make the most of your life because you only get one.”

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