Swayze's Widow: Moving On Felt Like 'A Betrayal'

Lisa Niemi is breaking her silence on losing husband Patrick Swayze to cancer -- and admits that after his death, going on felt like a "betrayal" of the actor.

patrick swayze lisa niemi

Niemi, 54, spoke about the loss of her husband at Maria Shriver's 2009 Women's Conference today -- where she revealed that dealing with loss is very new to her. "I thought during the 22 months of my husband's illness that it gave me all this time to get used to the idea of losing him. I found for myself that when I actually got to this point I said, 'No no no'... it wasn't the same at all."

Lisa, who spoke alongside Elizabeth Edwards on the "Grief, Healing and Resilience" panel, admitted that she wasn't prepared to deal with Patrick's death. "The actual loss is like an animal all of its own. It made all sadness and grief previous to that look like an intellectual concept."

Niemi, who was married to Swayze for 34 years, was a wreck following the days after the actor's September 14 death. "It's almost -- when the grief takes over, your body is not your own... I know I just have to go through it, and it's going to take as long as it's going to take."

Lisa admitted that she "wanted to, at some point, feel like I had the courage to go on and have a good life. And in the first few days after [Patrick's death], I felt like that would almost be a betrayal. That I would be letting him down somehow, and of course everyone's saying to me, 'Trust me, this is what he would have wanted.' And it's true... in a way, I would be letting him down to not do that."

Niemi, who has accepted the reality of her situation, reveals, "It's a brutal truth if you have to go on without that person, but unfortunately, that's what happens in life."

Patrick and Lisa's Love Story

Teenage Love

Patrick met Lisa when he was 19 and she was 15. At the time, Lisa was taking dance classes with Patrick’s choreographer mom, Patsy Swayze.

Head Over Heels

Before meeting Lisa, Swayze admitted, “I had been meeting girls with names like Mimi and Angel. And for a long time I didn’t feel like I deserved Lisa.”

Tying the Knot

Swayze and Niemi said “I do” on June 12, 1975. The wedding was held in the backyard of Lisa’s Houston home, and the reception was held at Patrick’s family dance studio.


Patrick’s relationship with Lisa inspired the actor to write “She’s Like the Wind” for the 1987 soundtrack to “Dirty Dancing.”

Johnny Dancer

Patrick and Lisa didn’t appear together onscreen in “Dirty Dancing,” but Swayze routinely practiced his choreography with Lisa at home.

Moving Together

At the World Music Awards in Monte Carlo in 1994, the couple took to the stage for a romantic dance set to an instrumental version of Whitney Houston’s “All the Man That I Need.”

Co-Star Couple

Patrick and Lisa had the opportunity to costar in several projects, including 1987’s action film “Steel Dawn” and 1998’s “Letters from a Killer.”

The Truth Prevails

Honesty was one of the many traits that drew Swayze to Niemi. “She was different than anyone I’d known. Like a flower. If I started my macho stuff, she’d cut me off fast,” Patrick told People magazine in 1984.

In the Director's Chair

Lisa directed Patrick in the April 9, 2009 episode of the A&E show “The Beast,” which Swayze filmed while undergoing chemotherapy.

Business Partners

The couple ran two businesses together — a music business and a wildlife preserve.

Building a Family

The couple hoped to have children together, but it wasn’t meant to be. Lisa suffered a miscarriage in 1990, and afterward “we got so focused on our world and our careers that we missed the boat,” Swayze told People in 2007.


All throughout Patrick’s battle with pancreatic cancer, Lisa was by his side to help him soldier on. From helping him keep track of his medication to flying him to chemo treatments (she’s a registered pilot), Niemi cared for Swayze non-stop throughout his treatment.

By His Side

Lisa was reportedly by Patrick’s side when the actor succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the couple’s ranch on September 14, 2009.

'The Time of My Life'

After learning he was suffering from pancreatic cancer, Patrick began writing a memoir with Lisa titled “The Time of My Life.”

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