Grieving widow asks public to be mindful of single parents during Covid 19 outbreak

Sheldon Hobbs of Mallow, Co Cork passed away on July 21 2019 just ten weeks after his little girl Rose was born. Picture: Mary Hobbs.

A mother of four who lost her Multiple Sclerosis suffering husband to suicide last year has asked the public to be mindful of the struggle of single-parent households during the current near lockdown measures.

Sheldon Hobbs of Mallow, Co Cork passed away on July 21 2019 just ten weeks after his little girl Rose was born.

His wife, Mary Hobbs, says that widows and single parents are facing unprecedented challenges during the Covid-19 outbreak. Ms Hobbs feels deeply uncomfortable when she brings her small children grocery shopping. Three of her children are under the age of four.

She said: "It is so embarrassing going in with double buggies. You want the ground to open up. I have tried to get delivery slots but they are all booked up for weeks.

"I know how serious Covid-19 and it is not like I want to bring young children grocery shopping. Last week we went to a supermarket and we were stopped by the security man. He was very nice but he said 'it is only person per trolley.'

"I told him him my husband was dead and my eldest was too young to look after three small children.

"He spoke to the manager and they let us in but it was like I had been kicked in the stomach. I felt like crying. Nobody wants to be shopping with small children at the moment."

Ms Hobbs said that her parents would usually assist her with the care of her young children. However, they are nearly seventy and are cocooning. She is appealing to shoppers to factor in exceptional circumstances such as hers before they make value judgements in supermarkets.

" I just hope that people out there do understand that there are parents on their own with no one to look after their kids."

Ms Hobbs tries to go to the small shops near her home for as many items as possible. However, supermarket trips have to be made for foodstuffs such as baby formula.

Meanwhile. Ms Hobbs says she and her children are navigating the grieving process as best they can given the enormity of their loss.

She said: "We are traumatised. We are in a house all day where my husband died. When you go out to the garden it is a constant reminder of where he died.

"Normally I would go to my parents most days but obviously I am not doing that not now. (My situation) is lonely and isolating even when there isn't a pandemic.

"Yesterday was particularly hard. Just even getting up. There are ups and downs good days and bad days."

Mr Hobbs was originally from Peckham in London. He was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Multiple Sclerosis in 2015. Mary says her husband had a great personality.

"We met when he moved to Mallow to live with his uncle. He loved Peckham and London and he was actually a real Del Boy himself (coming from an area made famous by Fools and Horses).

"He was so funny, he was hilarious. A lot of people with MS can carry on working and they don't suffer as much. Every single case is different.

"But Sheldon had a very aggressive form right from the very beginning. A lot of damage was done in a short length of time and he never recovered.

"He was in pain 24 hours a day every day. It was like nerve pain, so no pain killers will take it away. It's a pain from head to toe. He lost use of his legs for a while, lost vision in one of his eyes.

"He went from working, he did furniture removals, to not being able to walk."

In an interview with the Neil Prendeville show on Cork's Red FM last year Mary stated that she had no idea her husband was suicidal.

"Because he was so ill he would often cry behind closed doors. That Sunday morning, the day it happened, the day he passed away he was crying at the breakfast and kept saying he knew he was getting worse.

"He often said that, that he hated his body and felt trapped in it."

However, she discussed with her husband contacting his neurologist with a view to accessing medical cannabis. Tragically, the letter she sent to the specialist was far different from the one she intended.

"I had to tell him Sheldon took his own life. There were very few signs. I know that even if he was thinking straight, the love he had for the children alone would have stopped him. Our world has just been shattered into a million pieces."

Ms Hobbs has been in contact with Pieta House and is hugely appreciative for their support following the unbearable loss of her loving husband. She has called on suicidal persons to reach other to others.

"If there is anyone out there has any dark thoughts or thinking of harming yourself, make that call, send that text. Just get help. There are always options. Life can change in an hour, or five minutes.

Life can turn around and things can get better and they will get better.

"I never wished in my life to turn back time. You wake up everyday and think you're dreaming. You're thinking you are having a nightmare and then realise its actually real. and everything hits you again. It's so painful that you actually feel physical pain."

She said the family was due to move into a new home, a bungalow when Sheldon died.

"We were about a month from moving in. Instead of picking furniture I had to go down and pick out his coffin with my two year old son holding my hand.

"So I was thinking what coffin am I going to get him instead of what couch are we getting.

"We just have to go forward and live our lives for Sheldon and in memory of him. We just want him to know how much we love him and how much he was appreciated.

"He really was an amazing man and everyone he met loved him. He was such a lovely person."

Pieta House can be contacted at any hour of the day by phoning Freecall 1800 247 247. Or you can text HELP to 51444.