LONDON – Winnie Mandela says she feels "very blessed" to have been with ex-husband Nelson Mandela when he died, describing how she sat by his bedside until he drew his last breath.
She spoke to Britain's ITV news about the pain of losing Nelson Mandela, saying that "one never prepares for death" and describing the "heavy feeling" surrounding his passing.
"I went close to him and I noticed he was breathing really slowly. I was holding him trying to feel his temperature and he felt cold. Then he drew his last breath and just rested . He was gone," she said in an interview broadcast Thursday.
She told ITV the most difficult moment of the past week was when the military came to remove Mandela's body and she realized "he was leaving the house for good."
She also described pain at seeing him lying in state, saying that "it's very hard for the family to even share him even in his death after sharing with the whole world and our whole country while he was alive."
"He's still not really just ours, the family. He still belongs to the whole world and we have to share," she said.
Noting the sacrifices both had made over the years and the little time she had had to share with her then-husband, Winnie Mandela said she would "do that 100 times more."
"There is no greater reward than the one we both had of a liberated South Africa," she said.