‘Alcohol caused my early widowhood’ Rev Richard Coles discusses late husband’s death

Love Your Weekend: Richard Coles discusses bereavement

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Reverend Richard Coles, 57, sadly lost his beloved husband David in 2019 to a lengthy battle with alcoholic liver disease. The fellow Reverend was 43 years old, with Richard describing him as “not an obvious victim” of the illness.

We all know the dangers, but we are reluctant to admit them

Rev Richard Coles

In a new interview, he likened the scenario to that of Netflix series Narcos, which is about Latin American drug dealers in the 1980s.

Blaming alcohol for his life partner’s death, David admitted we all know the dangers that abusing alcohol can lead to, but we are reluctant to admit them.

“Alcohol caused my early widowhood,” he began.

“[David] was 43, a clergyman and a former A&E charge nurse.”

He sighed: “Not an obvious victim, you might think, of alcoholism, but he had been drinking excessively since his teenage years, as a palliative – alcohol is the most readily available anaesthetic in the world – and as a recreation.”

Richard explained how bewildered he is that something as “destructive” as alcohol can be drank on the daily by anyone.

“It seems extraordinary to me, as one who has suffered the consequences of alcoholism, that this most destructive of drugs should be as casually consumed as cappuccino,” he shrugged.

“I know people who worry more about the health consequences of drinking a coffee at breakfast than a bottle of wine at dinner.

“There is plenty of evidence for its dangerous effects, anecdotally and statistically – around 8,000 people die of alcohol addiction every year in the UK, with tens of thousands more hurried to their deaths; hospital admissions for alcoholic liver disease have risen more than 60 per cent in the last ten years; and alcohol is 74 per cent more affordable now than in 1987.”

He added: “We all know the dangers, but we are reluctant to admit them, because it spoils our enjoyment of a daily pleasure for the vast majority who ‘drink responsibly’, to use an industry phrase.”

But while he laid out the truth, he confessed he has also been part of that crowd.

“I am one of them,” he nodded while speaking to Radio Times.

“But if we are to make realistic decisions about how we poison ourselves, we need the information, the hard facts, not the romanticised, glamorised, falsified version of alcohol that entertainment offers and advertising promotes.”

The couple lived together with their dogs in their vicarage in Northamptonshire, where Richard is still a vicar.

In a previous interview with the publication, the priest smiled as he looked back on the last happy moments they shared together.

“David’s death was actually full of comedy, which made me and him laugh when he was in a fit state to appreciate what was going on,” he said.

“Medics, undertakers and clergy have a black sense of humour, but I’m not sure it’s something for public consumption!”

Richard admitted David was very private when it came to his health and didn’t want to make it public knowledge that he was dying.

He continued: “When David was dying, he didn’t want anybody to know and yet his physical deterioration was obvious.

“So we’re always on patrol, aren’t we? Of what we are prepared to release to the public.”

David’s most recent interview is available to read now in Radio Times.

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