Wednesday, 23 January 2019

grief.

granny and grandad's house, black and white photograph, kitchen dining table



I think a lot about grief.

I wasn't sure whether to publish this post, but a few people have encouraged me to, and agree that it's good to be open about grief and death. I find it hard to talk about in person, unless I'm in the right mood/environment, but writing things down always helps.


It's always been something that seems to stick with me - a little shadow in the back of my mind that pops up every now and then, to remind me: "everybody dies". That voice gets louder whenever it happens to someone close to me, as well as around anniversaries.

The loss of my aunt Lyzie to cancer is the first I really remember, although barely. I still wear her jumper and still bear her name. My favourite man in the world - my grandad - died when I was 15, and truly, I don't think I've ever really dealt with that. His wonderful wife, my wonderful Granny, died nearly 5 years ago.


torcross start bay stormy ocean


Towards the end of last year, the little voice started creeping back in. It was two years since I saw Geoff for the final time. That was an important day for me - both because I got to see him and his home, and really take it all in, and because I did something that I would normally try to avoid - I said goodbye.

Just over a year later, I went to say goodbye to my grandmother, Jean, my one remaining grandparent. My friend drove me home from Bristol, through the dark, through the rain.


Her death last January hit me a lot harder than I thought it would, and crying into cups of tea in cafes with my mum became a familiar pastime again. I was so tired of saying goodbye.

At her wake, we saw dolphins swimming out to sea.



Seeing someone you love and knowing that they are dying, and that this is the last time you will see them - that is the worst heartbreak I've ever felt. That black abyss of emptiness when they're gone is hard to bear - I can understand why people would want to believe in an afterlife, and I wish I could make myself believe in one.

Once the funeral is over, belongings are cleared away and property sold, where does it leave you?


Most days I'm completely fine - I don't think about it. Some days it feels like I'm dragging the weight of each person behind me, and it's hard to get anything done. I'm sure nobody deals particularly well with grief, but it's the source of a lot of my anxieties - though I have worked hard to try and overcome them. The thought of losing the people close to me used to cripple me. I would try to prepare myself for it, expecting it to come, but that doesn't help at all.

Sometimes I believe that I'd be letting them down if I got over it - they deserve to be remembered and mourned forever. But does anyone really get over it? I know it's possible to move on and get on with life, because I have, but does it ever really go away?

And so, I honour them by inking my skin.


kingswear dartmouth river dart devon black and white photograph mist


"It seems to me, that if we love, we grieve. That's the deal. That's the pact. Grief and love are forever intertwined. Grief is the terrible reminder of the depths of our love and, like love, grief is non-negotiable. There is a vastness to grief that overwhelms our minuscule selves. We are tiny, trembling clusters of atoms subsumed within grief's awesome presence. It occupies the core of our being and extends through our fingers to the limits of the universe. Within that whirling gyre all manner of madnesses exist; ghosts and spirits and dream visitations, and everything else that we, in our anguish, will into existence. These are precious gifts that are as valid and as real as we need them to be. They are the spirit guides that lead us out of the darkness."
Nick Cave.


south hams devon blackpool sands unusual rock photograph black and white


The night before last, I dreamt that my mum and I drove past Jean, looking so beautiful, just walking down the street. I was screaming at my mum to turn around so that I could see her again, and crying and crying and crying. I woke up feeling so sad and drained.

I shared that on my Instagram story, and had a few lovely responses. Some were just sending their love, and some were talking more deeply about grief, as well as their own experiences. Though no two situations are the same, so many of us are quietly dealing with loss - we need never feel alone in it.

Maybe I should share more when I'm feeling that way.. it's a fine line between being honest, and bumming everybody out. There is no right or wrong timeline for how it plays out, and knowing other people feel a similar way can be really helpful.



Grief is not just for a dead loved one. It comes in all shapes and sizes, for all reasons - you can grieve a childhood home, a memory, a broken relationship. We are all affected in some way, and we can all relate. Those emotions are what makes us human, and what binds us together, even after death.



black and white photograph kingswear dartmouth devon river dart mouth

Photos from the area I grew up in - my grandparents' house, Torcross beach on a stormy day, Blackpool Sands, and the mouth of the River Dart.

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2 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this. It's just what I needed to read today.

    ReplyDelete
  2. So sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete

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