I'll be forever grief-stricken over death of husband: Mary
END-of-the-day chats before bed are among the things former Fianna Fail minister Mary O'Rourke misses most about her late husband, Enda.
She has opened her heart about her devastating loss more than 12 years ago that left her "forever grief-stricken".
"I miss everything about him, but most of all the company and his physical presence," she told the Irish Independent.
"I live alone, and although I have grandchildren calling, I miss him terribly going to bed at night and getting up in the morning. We'd always be chatting and talking, but he's no longer there now and that's it.
"I grieved silently and deeply, but mostly to myself. You think you can cope and that you're going to be brave, keep your chin up and be wonderful.
"Loads of friends and family would say, 'Do you feel better now?', but you never feel better."
When her husband died suddenly, aged 65, in January 2001, Ms O'Rourke returned to work in less than a week.
"I went back to the Cabinet three days later, but of course I just went back too soon," she said.
"You must grieve, because if you don't it's bottled up inside you and comes out later some other way.
"We're brought up in Ireland to believe we should have a stiff upper lip and be steadfast and not go around blubbering. It's all wrong. If you suffer a big grief you should cry out loud, cry alone, or with somebody.
"But you need to literally cry and allow the tears to flow. You shouldn't go straight back to normal life, but if you do, try to share the grief evenly and do physically express it."
Speaking on the topic of 'Living with Loss' at an event organised by the Irish Hospice Foundation at the Alexander Hotel in Dublin, Ms O'Rourke said she "never fully got over his death".
"There's a part of your body, heart and mind that will forever bear that grief," she said. "Your life goes on, but there is a corner of you that is forever grief-stricken.
"It's not that your grief ever goes away, it doesn't, but it's not as acute. It's not as all-pervasive as it was originally, and I've learned to live with it."