Mental Health | Widowed | Grief | Life Stories

Silently Off the Rails

My life is a mess, but few people realise

Alan AJ
5 min readJan 20, 2022


Railway station with two trains, one on the left and one on the right.
Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

I mask my anxiety so well, that my relatives think everything is fine.

I smile. I talk. I do all the basic everyday tasks.

From the outside, everything looks quite relaxed. But in reality, I’m finding things quite hard.

This article is more like an entry in my journal. I’m not sure where I was going with it, or if I ever got there.

But here goes…

I Became A Stay-At-Home Dad

When I lost my wife, I had to carry on as best I could — I had no other choice. My children were 7 and 8 years old, and I wanted to be there for them as much as possible.

A combination of factors meant I had enough money to survive. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I was lucky — losing my wife has been the worst experience of my life so far.

But having a small pension, and Widowed Parent’s Allowance, meant that the life assurance money would last a lot longer — so I could get by as a stay-at-home dad.

Offers of Work

The Old Team

About 12 months after my wife died, I was contacted by the people I used to work with. My old employer had gone bust, and most of my old team had moved to a new place.

However, something didn’t feel quite right about it. My old boss was the first one to contact me. But his superiors took over, and didn’t even tell him they’d invited me for an interview.

The interview went quite well, but they wouldn’t allow me to work from home— even though I did that successfully during my wife’s illness. To deal with my childcare responsibilities, they suggested part-time hours.

Unfortunately, the travel costs and limited hours meant there wasn’t a great financial incentive. And school holidays would have been impossible, with the almost non-existent childcare support I had from other people.

I asked them if I could work additional hours from home. But they suddenly turned me down, saying they wanted someone there full-time…



Alan AJ

Random life stories, opinions, and a dry sense of humour. A 55-year-old former electronics engineer and programmer in England. Previously 'Autistic Widower'.