Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

‘He went for a cycle and didn’t come home’: Aberdeenshire widow Sam, 33, opens up about the loneliness of loss and the charity that gave her hope

Liam and Sam Finlayson.
Liam and Sam Finlayson.

They are the photos that wonderfully capture the happy optimism of two fit young people loving life – glowing with pride at making a summit or showing off their medals at the end of a big run.

Nothing even hints at the bolt from the blue that would steal the cheeky grin from Sam Finlayson’s face and leave her a widow aged just 32.

The same tragic event that has inspired her to put her trainers back on for a challenge in aid of the charity which has been her rock through the months of emotional turmoil.

‘It was a lot to deal with at 32’

“He went for a cycle one day and didn’t come home,” the Inverurie resident puts it simply, talking for the first time publicly about what she has been through.

“Obviously, that’s a lot to deal with at 32. He was only 35.”

“He” was her husband Liam, who came off his bike as he rode along the Lyne of Skene road one Sunday afternoon in September last year.

Samantha and Liam Finlayson.<br />Picture credit: Sean & Casey Stanley of Apricot Tree Wedding Photography.

A concerned member of the public stopped to help him while paramedics raced to the scene but sadly there was nothing to be done to save his life.

There was a flurry of police activity as officers sought to work out what had happened and track down the driver of a vehicle spotted at the scene.

In the end though, the blame lay with an undiagnosed heart condition.

Sam does not like to talk much about the day itself – other than to praise the efforts of all those who were at the scene.

“I would like to thank everyone that was there on the day, the public and all the ambulance and police – just because everyone was brilliant,” she says.

‘Phenomenal support’ from WAY charity

But what she is keen to tell the world about the support group that has done so much to help her cope with the aftermath.

“He passed away in September, suddenly and unexpectedly, and he didn’t have any illness or anything like that,” she says.

“So it was really out of the blue from nowhere. And within about a week, I heard about an organisation called Widowed & Young (WAY).”

Sam and Liam with their puppy working cocker spaniel Ozzie.

WAY offers peer-to-peer support for anyone who has lost a partner before their 51st birthday – married or not, with or without children, inclusive of sexual orientation, gender, race and religion.

It has not just given Sam “phenomenal support” but also helped forge some lifelong friendships.

Now she is giving back by taking her place at the Potarch Green starting line for Aberdeen’s edition of the Kiltwalk on May 29, taking on the full 26-mile Mighty Stride to raise funds for the charity that has become so close to her heart.

‘You don’t need to be alone – there’s company if you need it’

“Ever since the week Liam died, I’ve basically had a connection to people online who I speak to who have been in the same situation I have been in.

“We have a weekly Zoom on a Sunday, which starts at 7.30pm, and it goes on until the last person leaves which sometimes is 10pm, sometimes it’s been 3am,” she explains.

“It just depends on who’s there and who needs to talk.

“It’s nice because everyone understands, and you can talk if you’re upset, but also you can talk about nothing at all.

“All those hours that I would have always been with Liam before, a lot of hours here to sit and ponder.

“But having WAY there you know that, whatever time of day or night it is, there’s someone that you could talk back to. You don’t need to be alone. There’s company if you need it.”

Sam is raising funds and awareness for charity WAY, which has helped her cope with the loss of her husband.

Having people on hand “who are exactly on the same wavelength” has been invaluable, she says, and the charity walk is for them.

“I just wanted to be able to give something back.”

Sam is now planning a trip to London for a concert she was meant to go to with Liam, and will be meeting some of her friends from the group.

“It’s the friendships that you make and the support you get from the people that are in the exact same situation as you—especially the ones who are further along in the journey.

“Because it gives you hope that even though life’s never going to be the same, it’s never going to be as good as it was. It’s going to be different.

“But you can still have a quality of life and still be happy and you can still enjoy things.”

‘No feeling is right or wrong’

Her advice to others who find themselves in the same situation is that it’s okay to ask for help – or even accept it.

“This isn’t something that you expect to go through at any age.

“I mean, we all know that people die but it’s not often that you can prepare for.

“Every person feels differently in that situation.

“So, it’s being able to ask for help or at least accept help if it’s offered.

“And also to understand that it’s okay to feel however you feel, because we’re all so different and no feeling is right or wrong.

“You just have to go with your individual grief journey.”

After taking part in the 2018 Kiltwalk, Sam vowed she would never do it again.

But when a volunteer coordinator for the charity put a call out for members to join her for this year’s Kiltwalk, Sam put her best foot forward.

Ozzie, her seven-month-old working cocker spaniel, keeps her on a tight training regimen, going on walks for a couple of hours at a time to help burn his energy.

Ozzie, the working cocker spaniel, makes sure Sam keeps up her walking regime.

“I’ll be better this time than I was in 2018. The last time I did it, I had a broken arm for four months.

“So, I wasn’t able to do any training. This time, I should really be in a better position.”

To help Sam reach her fundraising target ahead of May 29, visit her personal funding page here.