A heartbroken woman who lost her husband to a sudden cardiac arrest has found love after loss – after becoming a 'widow coach'.
Karen Sutton, 46, was devastated to lose her partner of 13 years, Simon Sutton, 43, in September 2016 after he collapsed whilst out on a bike ride.
The mum-of-two had to grieve while navigating looking after her children – Sydney, 16, and Ella, 12 – by herself.
After three years of "soul destroying" grief, Karen was introduced to Andy Hall, 56, a semi-retired engineer, by a mutual friend at a charity auction.
Andy – who was recently divorced – spent the evening chatting with Karen and asked to take her on a date the following week.
The couple hit it off and have now been together for four years – while Karen says "it's not been easy" she stresses it's important to have an "open mind and heart" when dating again.
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New romantic comedy Love Again follows the chance meeting of a young woman who finds love while healing from her fiancé's death – something Karen knows all too well.
Karen, a widow coach, from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, said: "You're not looking to replace the person you lost.
"It's very much different to before.
"Your love for that person who is no longer here you need to bring forward to your new partner.
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"You should have patience with the person you've started dating, as there can be feelings of inadequacy or being second best.
"We learn more about ourselves."
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"But you can feel special again, and safe, loved and cared for."
Simon went out for a bike ride with his friend, Mark Denly, 46, in September 2016 after hosting a dinner party at their family home the previous evening.
Karen was hanging some washing out in their spare bedroom when she realised something was wrong.
"I saw Mark's head over the fence alone," she said.
"I opened the front door and Mark walked in through the gate – he just had his hand over his mouth."
Simon had been cycling along a pathway with Mark when he stopped to the side for a break.
Karen said: "He said to Mark 'give me a minute mate'.
"Mark looked back he saw Simon fall off his bike onto the grass.
"He said from the way Simon fell – without putting his hands out or anything – he could tell something was wrong."
An ambulance was called, and paramedics worked to save Simon, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Karen said: "I asked Mark 'is he dead?' and he just kept saying 'I'm so sorry' and that was the first I knew of it.
"Then I had to phone his mum and tell the kids.
"It was two-fold – both traumatic and exhausting.
"I truly believed my best days were behind me, and I thought I'd never feel safe again.
"I've never known anything like the grief, it scared me."
Karen struggled over the next few years and threw herself into life the best she could.
She said: "I partied, went on holidays, went shopping and joined dating sites, but none of them really helped.
"But I also discovered parts of me I didn't know existed.
"I was determined that this wasn't going to have a negative impact on the girls and I.
"I was learning how to live again."
After hiring a life coach – to help with her own grief – in early 2019, Karen felt "so much more in control".
Within six months she went on to train up as a life coach and a grief coach – specialising in supporting widows.
She began helping widows locally via Zoom in 2020 and then "it just went global" – now she helps women all over the world.
Karen was hosting a charity auction for childhood bereavement charity Winston's Wish in May 2019 when she was introduced to Andy by a friend.
The pair went to the local pub for some drinks and a curry, with their love blossoming from there.
Karen said: "He's just a really gentle, kind soul.
"We've been together for four years now and it's not been easy for me or him, trying to come into a family where someone has died.
"There's a sense of filling someone's shoes.
"It takes someone special to date a widow.
"Andy has embraced Simon, and his mum.
"He talks about him and asks about him, and there's never any pressure to take down photos or anything like that.
"You just need to be honest and support them as much as they support you.
"Have an open mind and heart and be patient with the process."
In the heartfelt film "Love Again," Mira (played by Priyanka Chopra) grapples with the devastating loss of her fiancé in a tragic accident. Amidst her grieving, she learns that healing lies in bravely opening herself up to love once more.
Mira encounters Rob (portrayed by Sam Heughan), and an extraordinary bond blossoms between them.
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Through this profound connection, they embark on a journey of rediscovery, unlocking new dimensions of themselves and finding hope and renewal in life after loss.
Watch Love Again via Apple TV, Sky Store, Amazon Prime Video to see how Mira and Rob’s story truly shows how loss is not the end of a love story.
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