Gay widower in search of community, and grief support


My name is David Wishart (pronounced wish-art, on left in profile picture).  My husband John Wishart (on right in picture) died recently and I've found myself suddenly completely alone, isolated, and without purpose.  There is no routine for me to go back to.  I'm here, a gay male widower, looking for any possible support group where I can be welcomed, feel comfortable, and talk with others who might identify with me.

On the morning of September 18th, 2017, I lost my dear sweet husband John Wishart to the cancer Multiple Myeloma.  On October 7th, I buried John, honoring him and my promises.  Largely on my own, I faced bigotry, and held both his graveside funeral and what John  called an "honest reception" at our studio and home.  I've been told over one hundred people came to say goodbye that day.

On the day he died I was abruptly left alone.  We have a large dive and first to leave after I had bathed and dressed Johnny shortly after he died in my arms was John's sister, next his mother, followed by a hospice worker, and the hearse where I had carried and gently placed my sweet husband.

The hearse moved ten feet and stopped.  The driver-funeral director got out and came to me, standing under the ceder trees in the very first rain of autumn.  I was in tears and this compassionate man, having seen I was so suddenly being left alone, said "You are not going to be ok are you".  

He stayed with me awhile longer and held me.  He was very kind and I felt his words and actions to be sincere and coming from a place where he could really identify with me, with John, and with my loss.

I had promised John he'd never be left alone and he never was throughout his long five year fight and in fact we were never apart as we lived and worked together every moment of our twenty five years together.  Keeping my promise I placed John in the crematorium, closed the heavy doors, and ignited the flames.  I'm not special or exceptional, it's just what I believe anyone would do for one they love so deeply and completely.  John and I are extremely lucky in love.

Only later during a conversation about our love with the kind caring funeral director he admitted to having started a new relationship and I wished him well.  But I cautioned him that with true love comes the very real possibility of unimaginable loss.  I mentioned that John and I had discussed this risk and we believe a life with love is so very much worth this and we could not have lived without loving and liking one another as completely and deeply as we do.  I asked if he liked her as well as loved her to which the funeral director responded "I like and believe I love him".  I was stunned but also moved he'd shared this with me. 

When he had stopped the hearse and come to speak to me in the rain under those ceder trees his words, of all the many condolences I've received, felt most genuine leaving me feeling that at least one person seems to identify with me.

Our home is in The Columbia River Gorge.  A windsurfing, kite boarding, SUP, kayaking, bicycling, snowboarding, you name it outdoor sports natural wonderland.  There were never many gay men here or who enjoyed the kind of sports John and I enjoyed together.  Also because this area is known for outdoor sports, during John's long cancer fight we lost many friends to sporting deaths.  That, and our circle of travel growing ever smaller and more focused on drives from Hood River, to the Portland Veterans Hospital.  We became just the two of us.  It's not that we were antisocial, just circumstances beyond our control changed.  Through it all, however, we had eachother and we were very happy.  One of John's last thoughts was "I've always known I have a happy spirit".

I'm now alone for long stretches of time, no calls, no cards, no knocks on the door. 

I've tried ever since the deafening quiet came after the work to organise John's funeral and memorial to find grief help and have failed.

I'm trying to keep going but so far it has been very difficult.

Any direction anyone might give to where I might find an appropriate group or chat group would be very much appreciated.


David Wishart

Below I've appended my beloved husband's obituary so that you may understand us more. That's John on the right holding my hand draped over his shoulder.

Life Story for John Paul Wishart

John Paul Wishart
John Paul Wishart (Johnny to his spouse, Johnny Pop to so many friends) of Hood River, Ore., died Monday morning, Sept. 18, 2017, after a long, five-year brave battle with the cancer Multiple Myeloma.

John died peacefully at home in his own bed, held in his husband's arms, with his mother Camilla and sister Susie caressing his hands.

John Wishart was born on Jan. 30, 1960, in La Grande, Ore. His loving parents were Jim Wishart and Camilla Flesher Wishart, both graduates of Hood River High School.

John was the youngest of four children. During John's formative years, his father's work allowed the family to live in many smaller Oregon towns. John lived in Union, Heppner, Prairie City, and then back to Heppner, where he graduated High School.

John joined the Navy soon after completing high school, serving on the USS Detroit, which was part of the Atlantic fleet. John loved being at sea and serving in our Navy. He particularly enjoyed ports of call in the Mediterranean, with Naples being particularly a fond favorite for many reasons … not the least of which was the people and the food. John did not just put his toe in the waters of new experiences and exotic foods; he dove in and had the most amazingly broad palette and passion to try everything. He visited Israel and his ship passed through the recently reopened Suez Canal. The visible signs, along the canal, of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, left an impression and strong memory with John. John not only liked serving in our Navy and being at sea, he loved to travel.

After his service, John moved to Chicago, where he began a career in fine upholstery. He credited his natural aptitude to his father, who, to relax from the stress of his career, would upholster and re-upholster the family sofa, but he also credits the training and his work in the Navy of sewing repairs in the forward sail locker.

John longed to return home and home for him was Hood River, where all his grandparents lived. His paternal grandparents had passed away when John was very young, but he was blessed to know his maternal grandparents very well. He loved and cared for them in their elder years, through their deaths, after they enjoyed a very long, successful and loving marriage.

John married the love of his life, as he called his partner of 25 years, David Mark Bender-Wishart, three times: Once in the spring of 2004, again in February 2008 and the most recent being a simple church service in the church his mother and father had married. That date was Dec. 21, 2014, which finally allowed John to have his relationship to his spouse federally recognized as family. Family was very important to John and he loved his family so very much. 

John worked hard meeting and speaking to our political representatives to try and make the lives of other sexual minorities, future generations, better, safer and more secure. He endured hardships and threats of violence in these efforts. His naturally caring, sweet, “never a bad word,” never demanding demeanor just may have helped change minds.

It's not enough to say John was an artisan. John was an artist. Together with his husband, John created many beautiful things that have touched and improved the lives of so many people, many of whom become good friends.

Again, John loved to travel and was always ready for adventure fitting in anywhere. Early in his relationship with his husband David, when the company David worked for went bankrupt, David arrived home with a modest severance check. When asked what to do with this cash, without hesitation, John said, "Let's go buy a used VW bus and go to Baja for the winter”!

His talent and creativity and passion for travel merged and together with his partner. They worked abroad several winters in England and Wales.

John met his husband David the day he submitted an example of his furniture design to a prestigious art show and competition in Portland. He didn't win that juried competition, but they had placed a huge crystal bowl for the public to drop off their vote for favorite piece of the show. Hands down, John won over the people and the popular vote and that's who he was. Besides the appeal of his creations, people were simply drawn to John. 

Even in his final days, when he was not completely conscious, John only had sweet thoughts to share. Conscious or not, this is who John Wishart was. In a moment of clarity, he asked to be taken around the Portland Veteran's hospital to say goodbye to all the many people who worked tirelessly to try and help him. It was difficult physically on him, but again, this is who John was.

He was overheard during one of his last phone conversations with his loving mother saying, "I've always known I have a happy spirit." No statement could be truer — this is who he was.

John is survived by his husband David Wishart and (redacted).

He was preceded in death by (redacted).

Saturday, Oct. 7 at 1 p.m., there will be a graveside service at Idlewilde Cemetery, Hood River. A reception at John's studio and home will follow. All are welcome.

A special thank you to all those at the Portland VA Medical Center who loved and worked so tirelessly to serve not only John, but all our veterans in need. John was happiest to be there because he knew you were helping him fight, but also because he loved you back. 

And thank you to (funeral director), a recent addition to our Gorge community. Thank you for your genuine loving, caring guidance through this most difficult time.

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Comment by David Heggi on December 6, 2017 at 12:53pm

Dear David,

This is David H.

Just checking if you are OK.  I just received a nice letter from Mary Jane.  

She mentioned that you weren't sure if I had gotten your last message to 

me - I have, and I replied.  Most of the time it seems I am blindly groping in the

dark trying to navigate here - I'm all thumbs.

Anyway, I am concerned. I know how raw raw grief is:  mine is not much older

than yours.  Are you alright? 

Hope to connect again soon, David


David H

Comment by David Wishart on December 5, 2017 at 5:55pm

I want to thank someone for their kind words and comment but I'm new to this site and it's not clear to me how to reply.  Could someone please help me how I can respond to comments?

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