I’m not quite sure where to start, so I’ll just start.
Life has been tough this past year. I cared for my mum and then she died. Just three weeks later my 34-year-old niece died, too.
In the throws of unimaginable grief, my dad went into hospital and thus followed months of caring for him. I can’t even begin to express the stress of trying to walk through six months, grieving for two people I was close to, who I spoke to on the phone every few days, whilst making endless phonecalls, writing numerous emails, chugging up and down the motorway to give 24hr care, and fighting to get my dad what he needed.
To add to that there was the sorting and packing up of the family home for sale, whilst simultaneously moving myself and my own family from the Highlands of Scotland (where we were previously cosy in our yurt), back to the South of England and onto a narrowboat that was riddled with teething problems—no running water, no electricity, cooking by head torch, you get the idea—so that we could be closer to the support network our daughter (our sweet daughter, who is always bubbly and happy but who, despite outward appearances, has felt these tragic losses very, very keenly) so needed.
And all of us, frankly.
In the middle of all this I got sick. Really sick. For a month.
I can’t quantify the emotional heartache, the physical toll, so I won’t try. But needless to say, since I crashed at the end of December as my dad finally settled into his new flat and recovered, most of my hair has fallen out, I suffer with what feels like physical pain, and some days I struggle to find joy.
Other days I do discover it, of course, by focusing on the small things.
My days look like this:
I don’t put any more pressure on myself, and seeing other people? I just can’t right now. It’s not because I don’t love friends, or that people haven’t been sweet souls, it’s just I don’t have the energy for conversation. And here’s the thing: people offer so much when you first face the death of loved ones but within a few months I feel my own unsaid rule descend, that I shouldn't be still whining on about how low I'm feeling.
Yet grief—real grief—for me, has come six months after the losses. This could be partly because I didn’t have a choice but to plough on for my dad, my daughter… But it could also be that we can’t process—don’t want to process—loss, until much later. That’s when, one day, six months on, you wake up in the night with grief tearing at your insides and you don’t know how to stop it from dragging you down. And yes, I know people die every day, and people contend with unbelievable traumas in every.single.moment, and I’m lucky to be here! But when something is clawing at you, you can’t always fend it off no matter that insight. Right now I also think things are compounded with the loss I feel for the life we once had. Our life of freedom, of travelling Europe in a van pre-Brexit and pre-Covid. As well as processing the absolute stress I put my body through last year. Ooof, life heh!
But the one thing (aside from work, walks, family time) that helps, is writing. And not Instagram posts, I’ve found. But real, intentional, heartfelt writing. The kind of writing that might belong on a blog. Which people take the time to visit only when they truly want to read your words. So I’ve decided to pour my thoughts into blog posts, and my time into working on short stories, poetry, articles, as well as working through the first draft of an old (unpublished) book with a red pen.
An acquaintance demonstrated pretty much how I feel about social media right now after they “liked” an image of my niece. A few days later in a message exchange, they said, “Oh, I didn’t realise she died, I just liked the picture.”
What have we become?
I’m done—for a while anyway—with scrolling, swiping, liking. I need something more nourishing. I’m longing for the more heartfelt connections of the blogging world that once was. Is it still out here? On my first foray back into some blogs I once enjoyed, it seems there is a similar feeling floating around, which excites me because I need to be nourished by words. And, right now, I need this space. A place to hold my messy, grammatically incorrect but RAW thoughts. A place that might not always be pretty, but is my place to say what I like.
Even writing this now. Hammering at the keys. Letting it all pour out. Goodness, I had forgotten how freeing and therapeutic blogging was! Back in the days when we didn’t care if editors were loitering. And no, I’m not saying we can’t make meaningful and wonderful connections on social media—of course we can! It’s just that scrolling to get to the essence is tiring. And I’m tired already.
Maybe some of you are out there still. Maybe not. But I’ll be here, and on my newsletter, sharing snippets of life.
I’m pretty certain future posts won’t be as rambling as this one, but when it’s been a while and you know you have to say something but you’re not entirely sure how to say it, bashing it out feels good.
So thank you to anyone who has read this far, for allowing me the space to empty my mind.
I think I’ve just fallen back in love with blogging.
Grief layered upon grief.
How to rise up from beneath?
How to breathe with the weight
Of all that is lost
Of all you have left behind.
Bad things happen to good people
And you were of the sweetest kind.
So now we trudge through,
We ache with pain
We reel in anger
Whilst retaining strength for your boys
Who were your world,
Who are now all that matter.
My beautiful niece (who was more like my kid sister), Jay.
Flying high with the angels and her beloved Grandma.
June 1987 – August 2021
Life is precious. Kindness is everything. Tell the people you love what they mean to you. Hug them, show them. Enjoy each and every moment, because we can never know when our time here will be over.
Grief comes in waves.
Sometimes like needles; fast and painful.
Other times like a blanket; soft and gentle.
And I miss her, my mum.
Yet there is so much more undone.
To face, reason with, and explore.
But for now I simply seek beauty in each step,
Whilst forever missing those words:
“I love you, pet.”
My mum: October 1938 ~ July 2021
In February 2022 I moved my blog to Substack. There you will find weekly writings (with audio option also), plus you can sign up to have them delivered direct to your inbox.
I hope you will join me there!
Blogs I Enjoy
Our Life Handmade
Raised on Earth
Taking a Kinder Path
Wing and Lens
Carol Anne Strange
I.A.S. Natural Horse Training