Paul McCartney opens up about losing his wife Linda: ‘I cried for about a year’

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Fans of the late photographer Linda McCartney who will be in Scotland over the next several months are in for a treat: An exhibit of her photography, The Linda McCartney Retrospective, is going to be held at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow until January 12, 2020. Sir Paul McCartney, to whom she was married for nearly 30 years, recently gave an interview to the BBC in which he opened up about the impact that Linda’s death had on him. This is heartbreaking:

Paul McCartney has lost two of the most important women in his life to breast cancer, and opened up about the deaths of both his late wife Linda and his mother in a recent appearance on the BBC.

The Beatles bass guitarist and singer married Linda Eastman back in 1969 and eventually formed the band Wings together, two years later after the breakup of the Beatles.

Linda died in 1998 at age 56 after being diagnosed with breast cancer three years beforehand. McCartney said the loss left him in a state of constant grief for nearly a year.

“I think I cried for about a year on and off. You expect to see them walk in, this person you love, because you are so used to them. I cried a lot,” McCartney told the BBC. “It was almost embarrassing except it seemed the only thing to do.”

Paul went on to discuss the death of his mother, who passed when he was 14:

“Both my mum and Linda died of breast cancer. We had no idea what my mum had died of because no-one talked about it. She just died,” McCartney said of his mother’s passing.

“‘The worse thing about that was everyone was very stoic, everyone kept a stiff upper lip and then one evening you’d hear my dad crying in the next room. It was tragic because we’d never heard him cry.”

[From People]

I can’t imagine that particular type of grief, though I’ve similarly grieved for very long stretches of time after losing relatives, and quite frankly, haven’t stopped, though I don’t cry all the time anymore. The death of someone to whom you are devoted and deeply in love with is an incalculable loss. I’m glad that Paul let himself cry when he needed to, and I’m sure that people understood. I’m a crier and I can appreciate his comment about how embarrassing it is to cry in public or in front of people whom you ordinarily would be more reserved around. I try to excuse myself if I feel that’s going to happen, but sometimes that’s impossible, and then there’s nothing to do but apologize, find a tissue, and try to rein the crying in or get away after it’s already started, and hope that everyone doesn’t make a big deal about it.

I can also imagine that, given Paul’s deep love for Linda, it was a big deal for him to decide to get married again. His second marriage, in 2002, to Heather Mills, was awful. They divorced in 2008 (he called the marriage “his biggest mistake”) and then he married Nancy Shevell in 2011. Paul is on his Freshen Up tour; maybe once that wraps up, he’ll make an appearance or two at the exhibit of Linda’s photography, surprising some lucky fans!

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25 Responses to “Paul McCartney opens up about losing his wife Linda: ‘I cried for about a year’”

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  1. Gabriella says:

    I have always been a huge Paul fan and he really was absolutely devoted to her and her daughter- he reminded me so much of my dad in that way (similar situation). And we all knew Heather Mills was a mistake. I was just able to see him in Vegas a couple weeks ago and I am so happy he has seemed to find love again with Nancy.

    • olliesmom says:

      Heather Mills was a gold digging predator. Supposedly even his children told him not to marry her.

      • Hope says:

        There was a long article in Vanity Fair in the lead up to the wedding. Paul and Heather were already fighting and Stella was adamantly against the wedding and said that Paul was choosing Heather over his own children.

        That article really laid bare that Heather Mills was problematic.

  2. Jane says:

    He and Linda were soulmates. I believe when she died, a part of him died with her. I am so glad he still going on without her; thriving and honoring her legacy. I think I am going to go on You Tube and play “Let It Be”. I think I need this song right now. Perhaps others will need it as well.

  3. Scal says:

    McCartney was a serial monogamist before he married Linda so it doesn’t surprise me he took to Heather Mills so quickly. I don’t think he was anywhere near ready after losing Linda, he just didn’t know how to be alone. The guy has never not had a woman in his life-but we all saw that train wreck for what it was. He seems happier and more suited with Nancy.

  4. Esmom says:

    He and Linda were amazing partners, I can imagine how deeply her death affected him. I can’t believe I almost forgot about the Heather Mills debacle…I’m glad he was able to put it behind him and find love again.

  5. Mia4s says:

    “It was almost embarrassing except it seemed the only thing to do.”

    Sometimes it is the only thing to do. And it’s not weakness. You cannot be weak and face down that kind of grief. I’m glad Paul shared this, especially considering the generation he comes from.

  6. Aang says:

    Grief has no schedule. My baby brother, with whom I was extremely close, died in a car accident a year ago and I’m still grieving. I recognize that and am being gentle with myself. I don’t feel guilty about declining invites and am choosing to spend my time with my very close circle of family and especially my favorite cat. I just still feel too tender to push myself to socialize when it is not something that ever came easily to me in the first place. There are some people who wonder when I’ll “get over it”. The answer is never but I’m slowly re-emerge into society as a changed version of myself. Everyone needs to grieve in their own time and way.

    • BengalCat😻 says:

      My father died in 1996 and sometimes the grief still gets to me. One of my students asked me about him last week and it hit me in a way I didn’t expect it to. I’ve lost two old boyfriends in the past year and I have good days and bad days. I’ve never been a fan of Paul but always admired the love he shared with Linda. I’m so very sorry for your loss. We never get over death, we learn to live with it. And it sucks ❤

    • Suz says:

      Aang – I’m so sorry about your brother. And you are better than anyone asking you when you’ll get over it. I lost my dad when I was in college and a callous roommate was once a total D to me for “just sitting around in my room and doing nothing.” She like these people saying similar to you have absolutely no idea what kind of grief you’re going through. Only those who have been through it know. It’s going to take a while, but you will feel better again. The grief never goes away but I promise it does become less painful with time . And I promise that you do learn to live a happy life around it. I went to therapy about 6 years after my dad died and I was so comforted knowing all my feelings were valid. You’re doing your best. You are very brave. And keep holding on. You’ll have sunshine in your days again, I promise. ETA: I had the same feeling you did – when I re-emerged from the darkest days, I felt like I was Suz 2.0.

    • kerwood says:

      @Aang, my condolences on the loss of your brother. I have a baby brother and can’t imagine losing him.

      Anybody who asks WHEN you’re going to get over the death of your brother is no friend of yours. You NEVER get over it. You just learn how to live with it.

  7. Mab's A'Mabbin says:

    For me grief never ended. It just doesn’t. I felt stomach pangs and cried for many years. Last month was the twenty year mark and while it’s true I don’t cry or think about them 100% of the time, I’ll never be the same. It changed me, and knocked the life out of me. It’s nice to hear a man discuss heavy grief because it’s such a personal walk. It’s so hard to discuss, admit and accept.

    • Christin says:

      Heavy grief is an accurate way to describe a deep personal loss that shakes to the core.

      After the first year of my heavy grief, I asked a former classmate (now a psychologist) about the stages of grief. I seemed to keep reverting back to anger, which is not my usual way of looking at things. She said that grief is not a straight-line process, and we do grieve in our own way and timeline. I just wanted to keep my circle really small and not be social, especially with extended family who were not very good to my loved ones.

      I have maintained that distance, but not out of anger now. Life is short and time is a precious commodity.

      • Mab's A'Mabbin says:

        I too have maintained great distances with those who handled that time in my life with reprehensible behaviours. My circle has remained small, and I have built thick towering walls around me which I know isn’t a good thing. But I live a fearful life now, and it’s daunting saying goodbye to anyone really. I know these are my issues so I tend to keep them bottled lol. I totally understand what you’re saying.

  8. Insomniac says:

    I really appreciate his sharing this; when I lost my dad a long time ago, I got the sense that people around me were a bit impatient when I wasn’t Getting On With It after about a month. I hope he’s very happy with Nancy now

  9. vegasschmegas says:

    Just saw Sir Paul last week in Vegas….he was amazing! This guy is 77, and he played for three hours, no break. He’s still strong, so is his voice, I didn’t want it to end.

    Both my Mom and her sister died of breast cancer. I was in my teens. I’m of the same age where we didn’t talk about it. They’re gone, soldier on. Hard on a kid.

  10. Dee Kay says:

    I’m a huge Paul fan and am so thrilled I will be seeing him this Wednesday in San Jose with my sister. Paul is promoting Linda’s retrospective and touring right now and talking about his grief for Linda, just as my sister and I are getting ready to say goodbye to our dad, who’s dying of cancer, and I know I will be turning to Paul’s music for solace in the days and months and years to come. Paul was put on this earth to give us music that can help us bear the hard times. I think so much of his music speaks straight to our hearts because he lost his mother at such a young age. His genius was born of profound grief.

    • India Rose says:

      What a beautiful thing to say in the midst of such a difficult time for you and your sister, Dee. May your father pass in peace, knowing how much he is loved.

      ENJOY the concert on Wednesday. And may music continue to be a solace to you. Sending strength, courage and tenderness in the days to come.

  11. Riley says:

    Such a class act! There is no one like him. Perfect mix of grace and talent.

  12. India Rose says:

    I saw Paul a couple years ago, under a starry sky in a giant stadium. He sang for three hours and forty-five minutes with no break, moving from guitar to bass to piano. He sang a special song for Linda, one for John, one for George, and one for his wife Nancy, who was in the audience. It was beautiful. I’ll never ever forget the whole enormous crowd singing the “na na na” end of Hey Jude together, my eyes full of tears, and my dad with his arm slung around my shoulder saying, “Isn’t this great? Isn’t this so special?” And oh, how it was.

  13. Lena says:

    Saw Sir Paul several years ago with my brother. Our dad was a huge Beatles fan and when certain songs came on, I’d look at my brother and we’d both be crying. It was a great experience, very touching, and I felt like my dad was with us!!!

  14. pupax says:

    Heart wrenching, I cannot even imagine the loss.
    Linda and Brit Marling look alike in this picture.