Getting through grief, well, trying anyway

Hello. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Last year I think I just lost my spark for blogging, I didn’t want to put posts out just for the sake of it and copywriting became my main freelancing income. I guess a part of me was writing every day and sometimes night, not only was I exhausted but I just needed to write about things I was passionate about.

I haven’t updated the blog with some of the biggest things to have happened in my life since September (I finally got married!) and I will talk about them all but for tonight, I wanted to write about grief. I know, it’s a cheery topic to come back with. Totally on brand. Next month it will be 6 months since the sudden and unexpected loss of my beloved grandfather. I have thought so many times about writing a post about it, so many times about putting it into words and setting it free into the world.

You see, my Gramps and I were incredibly close. I even hate writing the word ‘were’. We shared a love of history, politics, family genealogy, music, laughing. There are some people in your family that you just fit with and, for me, he was one of those people even from when I was tiny. Even though I grew up, the thought of losing him was just abstract. His mother lived well into her 90s and he was always active, going to the gym more than me, eating right (mostly) and full of life and laughter.

I’d gone to Northern Ireland for my first work trip, I hadn’t been there for a few days before I flew because I had a nasty cold (not Covid) and didn’t want to give it to them but I called, I spoke to him the day before I flew on the phone. I planned to go there the day after I got back. I’d even FaceTimed my Mum the day before while she was at their house and chatted while he was sitting in his chair, laughing, cracking jokes.

If there had been any inkling, the slightest sign that something was wrong I would not have gotten on that plane. I would have cancelled my trip. I would have done absolutely anything. On the penultimate day of my trip, I’d done some sightseeing, picked up some gifts to take home, had gone back to my hotel to charge my phone, pack and have a nap. My biggest worry was where I’d get cash out for the next day. That was until my Mum called. Until my entire world changed. I’m not going to go into details, I can’t, but I threw everything into a bag, sorted a flight home and went and sat in an airport for about 2 hours sobbing while waiting for the next flight to London.

For weeks after I was filled with pain and anger, I lashed out a lot. I blamed myself for not being at home, I wanted to do anything just to hug him, just to talk to him one more time.

The weeks after are a bit of a blur, I was meant to have my Hen Do and was going to cancel but was banned by my whole family because he would have been mad if I’d cancelled. I had a day of relief, I guess and felt incredibly guilty after. I spoke at his funeral and even then it didn’t feel real that it was him. I got a tattoo in memory a month to the day.

From that point the wedding was weeks away and where I could I let it just take over, I planned, I sorted things, I had a part of his shirt sewn into my dress and I held it together for the most part. I kept going and wondered what would happen when I stopped. The night before the wedding I sobbed into my best friend’s arms, the day of I thought of him and smiled, the day after I cried again because I was so happy but so sad he didn’t get to see me get married when he was so excited.

And now we’re months passed, my brain and my body finally caught up with me. Months of keep pushing, keep going, holding it together broke. I’ve been in a flare now for a good few weeks and when you’re in pain the defences are wobbly. You’re already not feeling great mentally and the gates open and let everything else in.

Grief, for a human, is something that I’ve not truly experienced before, this is the first major loss for me and wow they had to go and take one of the big ones first. There’s no good way to lose someone but being alone across an ocean on your own with limited flights home was particularly shit. Pretty sure I scared a small child at the airport.

When the feelings overwhelm me, I cry until I feel like I can’t anymore, there is a gaping hole in my chest and physically have to hold myself together. All at once, I feel like a child again but an adult who has to put those pieces back together. I have so many questions and already in a matter of months there are so many things I want to say. It fucking hurts.

But there are days where I’m doing ok, where I can laugh and smile, look at pictures and tell people all about him. Try and convey the love I have for him without being able to introduce one of the most important people in my life as well as try and navigate this world without someone I always turned to.

This is a very long blog and if you got to the end, I’m impressed. I don’t know how much sense this makes, if it makes any sense at all. I had to write though because he loved reading my blog and read every single one he could, leaving comments that it was a good write, talking to me about when I’m finally going to write a book. He told me once I would be after he was gone and I didn’t believe him, but I guess now it is.

My Girl, Lottie

I didn’t think I’d be writing this for a long time. We lost my beautiful girl and I needed to write, to clear my head.

Mum and Dad decided to get a dog 12 years ago and I’ll be honest I wasn’t sure. Our cat had gone missing a few months before and I was still holding out hope. So we went, me in all black with arm warmers and a lot of eyeliner – it was the time of the emo. We went as a family to Dogs Trust, we knew we were going to rescue but my parents had a small dog in mind, maybe a Westie.

We went in and the woman behind the counter slipped Mum and Dad a bit of paper they said yes and we were lead through a few doors. There, in that room, were 6 puppies. We were told they were Lurchers (I had no idea what that was – none of us really did). I crouched down and a little one came straight up and licked my hand. That was my girl and my dog. That was Lottie.

At the time she had been named Jade as a temporary name. We did go and look at other dogs but ultimately she was ours, we had to wait a few weeks for her to have her so she could support her sister through and she did. Then she came home and had us all wrapped around her paw from the minute she came through the door.

We had her for 12 years, there are countless stories I could tell, when she was a puppy Ali decided to throw a stick while she was on the lead…we ended up chasing her around the field which she thought was a great game. The time that she jumped up and took a chunk of my Dads kebab when he turned around for a second. Or all the hours we spent sneaking food and breakfast or when she’d sleep on my bed (and take it over).

She was one of the kindest and sweetest dogs I’ve ever know and more so, she was mine. My heart has broken in the pieces but I’m remembering all of the good times. I’m watching videos and looking at pictures because I’m going to remember her as she was. Sleep well my angel pup – you’ll be in my heart forever.

Book Review: Pilu of the Woods – Mai K. Nguyen

Willow loves the woods near her house. They’re calm and quiet, so different from her own turbulent emotions, which she keeps locked away. When her emotions get the better of her one day, she decides to run away into the woods.

There, she meets Pilu, a lost tree spirit who can’t find her way back home—which turns out to be the magnolia grove Willow’s mom used to take her to. Willow offers to help Pilu, and the two quickly become friends.

This is one of the sweetest and most beautiful graphic novels I have ever read. Initially drawn to the art this gave so much more, including lyrical prose. Ultimately this is a story of family, friendship and dealing with grief. While Willow and Pilu come from different worlds, they are such a sweet pair and I can’t say no to a doggie sidekick!

The art style itself is unique and while it will appeal to a younger reader as a woman in her mid-twenties I was enchanted by the illustration. Additionally, the use of colour to show the woods felt real to me. I read this at a point where I needed something to fall into and escape – something I was easily able to do.

I will warn you going in that you might get a little emotional reading. I wanted to reach in and give Willow the biggest hug. The way that Nguyen has shown emotion and the complicated feelings that are being experienced from the perspective of a child is nothing short of incredible.

It’s no surprise that I gave this 5 stars. This really touched my heart, it’s not a complicated story, however, it can speak volumes. I really hope that there is a follow-up because I can see the relationship and story really growing and evolving. This is a wonderful book, I can’t stress enough how much I adore it.

A huge thank you to Netgalley, the author and publisher for giving me a chance to read this in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Book Review: When We Collided – Emery Lord

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“My dark days made me strong. Or maybe I already was strong, and they made me prove it.”

Jonah never thought a girl like Vivi would come along. Vivi didn’t know Jonah would light up her world.
Neither of them expected a summer like this…a summer that would rewrite their futures.

In an unflinching story about new love, old wounds, and forces beyond our control, two teens find that when you collide with the right person at just the right time, it will change you forever.

Well, what can I say about this novel? While initially, I wondered if this was going to be another novel about teenagers falling in love and everything is magical and great forever. I can’t read books like that anymore because there are so many. This was a refreshing read focusing on real issues and how we cope with them and showing teenagers as people.

I got this with my Illumicrate back in May and have only got around to reading it now. I am kicking myself for not reading it sooner! Emery Lord is a fantastic writer and can write thoughtful, funny and beautiful words that will suck you in. I could not put this book down, I was constantly thinking about Vivi and Jonah, their lives, their futures. Also, it’s rare that I love an ending as much as I did this one. It was absolutely perfect and just created a sense of peace for me at the end.

While the blurb hints at mental illness, it doesn’t show the extent of how the novel manages it. Both Vivi and Jonah are so real and incredible because they have flaws, they make mistakes and, for me, you can see yourself in their decisions and mistakes. The novel has so many elements to it family, friends, reflection and how people live through challenges in mental health. Jonah’s grief is explored, as are issues in Vivi’s past.

With all that said the novel is uplifting, I loved every single page. Vivi is a breath of fresh air and Jonah took my heart from the very first page. I’d love to go into the list of reasons why but I don’t want to spoil anything because it really is a treat.

Of course, I gave this novel five stars, for a while I thought it may be four but the ending bumped it up. I loved the pace, characters and plot it was absolutely incredible and I can’t wait to get myself reading anything else that Emery writes because she is truly talented.