Reverend Richard Coles has revealed for the first time that his partner David died of alcoholism.
Now Coles, 59, has opened up about David's lengthy struggle with alcoholism – and admits he previously it kept secret because of the stigma surrounding alcohol addiction.
Coles wrote in his new book The Madness Of Grief: A Memoir Of Love And Loss: "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.
“I wanted to get a sense of why David was so important to those who loved him before we got to a discussion of what killed him.”
He added: "I am not the only person to have lost a partner to alcohol and there is a sort of silence around those subjects sometimes. But I think that silence can contribute to what makes addiction dangerous.”
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Coles was one-half of Don't Leave Me This Way hitmakers The Communards in the 80s, and began training for the priesthood in 2003.
The Radio 4 presenter met David after a church service in Norwich in 2007 and they entered into a civil partnership in 2011.
David's alcoholism became so severe he lost his job as a priest and his licence from the bishop. Coles reveals he would come home to find him unconscious on the floor surrounded by bottles.
Coles said: "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.
"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.”
The reverend said he will always miss and love his partner, but he is ready for a new chapter in his life.
He said: "I do miss him all the time and I always will. The question is do I live a life after David? Yes I do. I need to step forward.
“I will never leave David behind and I am going to be buried next to him when the time comes.
“But I am 59 now and I don’t want to sit in a corner in a black shawl doing the knitting.”
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