Rev Richard Coles admits he tried to save his alcoholic partner David
Reverend Richard Coles writes about how his late partner David ‘destroyed himself’ with alcoholism in his forthcoming memoir.
In an extract from The Madness of Grief: A Memoir of Love and Loss, Richard, 59, pens: ‘It was really, really tough to see somebody you love destroy himself. It is like someone is drowning and you throw them a lifebelt but they are just not taking the lifebelt.
‘And I did try everything I could think of to help him stop drinking, and in fairness to him he did try too, but it was too much for him.’
Reflection: Reverend Richard Coles writes about how his late partner David ‘destroyed himself’ with alcoholism in his forthcoming memoir
He goes on: ‘I think for David it was a useful sort of way for taking pain away. He really liked being drunk as well. Before he got to the obnoxious stage when he was at the jolly stage he was really, really good fun.
‘But like most things it really doesn’t take long for what was uproarious fun to become unbearable. And when he was bad and being really obnoxious, that was really difficult because he was such a kind, gentle and thoughtful man.’
Richard also writes about how being a reverend made the situation harder.
‘The second thing is, it is just very awkward, especially if you are a vicar and you are meant to be unflappable and perfect and my life was not and is not perfect and I wasn’t unflappable when David’s drinking was at its worst.’
Former Strictly Come Dancing vicar Richard wanted to keep the painful details of David’s addiction private.
Richard explains: ‘I often think if someone dies of drink as people used to say, that people filed them under a sort of tragic, squalid death. David was so much more than that.’
Richard has also admitted his late partner wouldn’t have wanted him to pen the memoir that he’s releasing.
In an extract from The Madness of Grief: A Memoir of Love and Loss, Richard, 59, pens: ‘It was really, really tough to see somebody you love destroy himself’
Richard, who married David in a civil ceremony in 2010, asked his partner’s family for permission to share his experience of being with an addict in the hopes of helping others in the same situation.
He told The Guardian that he ‘discovered’ how much he wanted to express himself after David’s passing in 2019.
Richard explained his reasons for publishing the book The Madness of Grief despite knowing his loved one wouldn’t have approved, saying: ‘David would have hated this book. Hated it. I just decided, well, it can’t hurt him now – and it might help other addicts’ spouses who are going through similar things.
‘When David was at his worst it was so gruelling, so difficult for me as his husband, I felt like I was falling through space sometimes.’
He adds: ‘It is like someone is drowning and you throw them a lifebelt but they are just not taking the lifebelt’
Richard added that although having the opportunity to write is an unexpected pleasure from David’s passing, it doesn’t compare to the loss of his partner.
The former Strictly Come Dancing star and David lived together with their dogs Daisy, Pongo, Audrey and Horatio in the vicarage of St Mary’s in Finedon, Northamptonshire.
David had come to Richard for advice on joining the clergy when they developed romantic feelings for each other and soon began a celibate relationship.
Having appeared on prime-time shows and gained fame in pop band the Communards, Richard has revealed it took time to find a balance between a husband inclined to privacy and his busy public life.
David’s death in December 2019 shocked parishioners, as he kept his failing health private while battling illness for more than a year.
New book: The Madness of Grief: A Memoir of Love and Loss by The Reverend Richard Coles is published by W&N on Wednesday
Richard has said David, who had an addiction to alcohol, would’ve ‘loved lockdown’ because it would’ve given them the the opportunity to spend time together at home.
Reflecting, he added at times people would push David out of the way to get to him, but David took it as a joke.
‘I wish I’d spent more time with David. I wish I’d prioritised doing nothing with David more. Not seeing that as a holiday from things, but as the centre of things,’ Richard said.
David, who became increasingly sick with liver disease, was determined to keep the drinking problem that eventually killed him a secret, however there were public outbursts including one that involved the police.
Richard details the day David was admitted to ICU in his memoir The Madness of Grief, and his decline before a decision was made to turn off his oxygen.
When asked about feeling guilty about publishing the book, he explained those who live with an addict are often plagued with guilt about if they should’ve done more when the person was alive.
Friends and David’s mother have shown interest in him meeting someone else, however Richard has said he can’t imagine having another love of his life.
The Madness of Grief: A Memoir of Love and Loss by The Reverend Richard Coles is published by W&N on Wednesday.
For alcohol support services visit drinkaware.co.uk or call 0300 123 1110.
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