Saturday, December 5, 2020

Nine Months On & National Grief Awareness Week

I decided to start writing this post a little earlier than nine months to the day, it's the 29th November and it's been a really really tough month. To be honest I would say this has been the most painful month I've experienced so far in terms of grief. There is a chance that being in lockdown has made things harder to cope with in terms of finding 'coping mechanisms', but the bottom line is I just miss my Dad so, so much. 

Okay, we're back to 5th December now, today is nine months since losing my Dad. I really wanted to write something back when I started this post on the 29th but recently I find it hard to put 'pen to paper' if that makes sense. What I wrote 6 days ago is essentially what I want to write now anyway. It's been so much harder recently, almost like the shock is fading and it's hitting me right in the face that my Dad is gone. The fact that Christmas is around the corner also adds to the pain as I wander around the shops seeing gifts that I wish I could buy him, cards I want to write for him and the list goes on. I've been loving seeing the robins recently, I've seen quite a few big beautiful robins that always appear when I need them the most. I tell them not to move if they're my Dad and they stay still, just long enough for me to take a photo!

This week is National Grief Awareness week and I knew about this for months and really wanted to write something in detail about grief to raise awareness, in particular anticipatory grief, but I decided to leave that for another time as I have some photos I want to share alongside that piece that I'm not ready to talk about yet. I have written out some 'tips' and 'advice' which I'll add to this post too. I don't know everything and things are definitely different for everybody, but there are a lot of similarities too so I hope these are helpful.


Thursday, November 5, 2020

Eight Months On

I'm so grateful that this has been a very long month. As much as we all just want these rubbish covid times to pass, for me, I hate being further away from the last time I was with my Dad. Every single month has flown by and it's frightened me. October has been a month full of anticipation for the festivities ahead, (well, maybe not now!) and also a month full of sadness that I won't be sharing these moments with my Dad. A real 'joy and grief' co-existing month.

As the festive period begins I'm overwhelmed with the joy I feel for Christmas, the food, the lights, the decorations, the films, the music, I absolutely adore the music. I may have mentioned in my last post, maybe not, but straight away after losing Dad I said 'There's no way I can celebrate Christmas, no trees, no lights, no music, no NOTHING'. But over the last month or so I've fully changed my mind and I have gone full force into Christmas mode like NEVER before. I want it all, the lights, the music, the decorations, all of it. The reason is that it makes me feel SO close to Dad and my happiest memories, it makes me feel like I've gone back in time and that's the best gift I could give to myself. I see my Dad in the music, I see my Dad in the frosty winter air when the sky is blue and the sun is beaming. I see my Dad in the beautiful lights and the wacky decorations. I see my Dad in every childhood Christmas movie. I could never give up all of this because I'd be giving up my precious memories of him.

Everybody has their own ways of coping with grief and this is one I never expected for myself, but it's truly carrying me through one of the most painful times of the year. Yes, there are tears, my God there is tears whilst I'm singing, tears whilst I'm browsing the shops, but there is so much love and joy there too and I'm trying to choose the joy and hold it tight when I can, and cry when I need to.

Today, I sat in the same spot where I was when I found out my Dad had passed away and I looked down the corridor, imagining seeing him there like I usually would and said out loud 'Eight months, it's been eight months? Wow, that's too long to not have seen you'. I cried, my cat ran off and left me alone and I continued to plough through old photos of him. I guess there's nothing I can do about time passing by, but I will do everything to carry my Dad with me so he's never too far and time won't mean a thing.

I love you so much Dad, I sob every time I write these and secretly hope you're over my shoulder reading it with me and feeling it too. I miss you more and more and more and more and I'll never stop. ❤️️


Monday, October 5, 2020

Seven Months On..

Today is seven months since we lost my Dad and yesterday I wrote a whole post, emptying every thought and feeling as much as I possibly could. I felt vulnerable and it actually made me feel uncomfortable. I deleted everything I wrote because even though I fully stand behind being open with grief and find it therapeutic, it just felt too raw and messy to put out there this month.

I've written something a little shorter instead, (but actually more therapeutic 
for me).

This time last year Dad was recovering from sepsis. It was the first time he'd almost lost his life to the dangers of cancer and it really brought home the painful truth that he wouldn't be with us forever, and probably not for as long as I'd thought. His life became even more precious, the conversations I had with him made me feel like the luckiest daughter in the world. The warmth in his voice at the other end of the phone whilst I told him what I was buying in Morrisons, I only ever felt whole when I spoke to him. Of course, I really started to feel the deep sadness of anticipatory grief, but I only have fond memories of last autumn/winter. I can hear his voice in my head like he's still talking to me, his happy laugh, his silly voices, his Dad jokes, but not just any Dad jokes, my Dad's jokes. I'm trying hard to bring autumn alive in our home this year as it brings me the comforts of those memories. Doing things that remind me of Dad and memories with him brings me so much warmth inside, it's something that makes me realise that joy and grief can co-exist.


Saturday, September 5, 2020

Six Months On

It feels like a very long month between now and my last post. So much has happened since then, it’s been my birthday, my first one without my Dad, I’ve returned to work (although in a completely new place and with a lot of new people) and I’ve also gone on my first holiday, (which I’m currently on when I’m writing this). It’s been six months since losing my Dad and I was very much dreading this time frame as it feels so long yet it’s still so fresh, it just happened. Six months feels like a long time to be doing life without my Dad. 

I’ve gone from being able to openly respond to ‘how are you?’ to no longer being able to. Besides my very open blog posts, I just can’t answer generic questions with deep answers anymore. I feel like I’m talking to a brick wall and it makes me feel worse than if I kept things to myself. But, I will be open in this post with how I feel about everything and maybe other people going through the same thing can relate and feel less alone when it can feel (and usually does feel) extremely lonely. 

I feel like I’ve gone back quite a few paces recently. I wouldn’t say I’m in ‘denial’ as such but I do feel like I don’t believe that it’s happened, and I do feel this big pang of shock in my chest if something really brings it home and makes it real. I’ve also being getting so many big grief waves and they literally rip the ground from beneath me. I could be just sat watching a video, icing a cupcake or stirring some chicken and suddenly ill burst into tears and it’ll feel like they’ll never stop. Sometimes I imagine what it would be like if my Dad knocked on the door and said sorry he had to go away for so long but he’s back and would give us a big hug.. I don’t know why I do it to myself but I have such a good imagination I can make it feel real for a moment, (of course then I feel incredibly upset after). Sometimes I see people who look like him or dress like him or walk like him and I just imagine it’s him for a second and that he’s walking by me.

I only really get to talk about him to my mum, brother and partner now as I think my timeframe for sharing with others has expired and nobody really asks me anyway. The good thing is that me and my mum talk about him a lot, every single day, and we talk about everything. We share memories, we talk about his cancer, we talk about when he passed, we talk about things he’s told both of us, I’m very lucky in that respect because I’ve read so much about people not being able to talk to their surviving parent about their parent who’s passed away and I would find that very challenging. 

I do get why people close off though, I had a conversation recently that included talking about my Dads passing and it was so frank that it actually made me feel ill. It was as if it was somebody’s hamster that had died, not my Dad. I feel really uncomfortable that there’s a chance that could happen again and that’s made me question being as open as I am because I feel like I let that happen by being willing to let his passing be talked about on anything other than my terms. 

I realise (and I’m sure every single person who I’ve seen in the last month would agree), I come across like I’m doing really really well. I resent that a lot, I’m not saying I want to look like I’m completely miserable but some balance wouldn’t go a miss!! I feel like it does my love for my Dad and longing for him a massive injustice by hiding it but I can’t help it, I can only cry and be upset alone which I find odd. I found this recently which I’ll post below as it sums up a part of how I feel/a possible misconception very well. I had my birthday in August and all I’d asked for for this year was to celebrate it with my Dad. This was before I even knew he may pass away in 2020, I simply just wanted to spend it with him. Of course, that didn’t happen and very kindly the majorly of my family came together to spend it with me. Even though I ‘celebrated’, nobody saw me spend the morning crying, the night before crying and going home and crying. I posted the photo at the top of this post because I can’t add it properly whilst posting this from my phone, but I’m sure many of you in a similar position can relate. 

I’ve actually wrote this whilst on a train in Italy, it’s probably very long and all over the place as I’ve kind of written it point by point as it comes into my head, but it’s helpful for me to offload. I’m a weird space with things at the moment, I wish I could understand and have some kind of rhythm with my feelings but it’s just not like that, all I can do is somehow keep going and not expect the world from myself, or let others expect much from me whilst going through the most difficult time of my life. 


Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Five Months On

This past month has been full of firsts. First after first after first and for someone who really doesn't like change, I've been thrust into a hell of a lot of it. My last post 'four months on' had me sharing the depths of my grief and how it's seemed to manifest as depression. I worried where I would be 'five months on' and how I would get through this past month. 

In the last month, I have left the country for three weeks, I've attended my first wedding since losing my Dad (personally a big deal for me as I'm grieving those memories I will never share with him), I've gone back to the gym for the first time, I've visited my home for the first time along with all the firsts that come with lockdown easing too.

Being away from the UK brought me a lot of anxiety, not because of coronavirus but because I still don't feel ready to 'enjoy myself' or integrate with people as normal, so I did feel isolated in my grief for a period of time. On the positive side, it was actually nice to be mildly distracted from my reality as whilst I was away as I had no reason to believe my Dad wasn't still here. It probably doesn't sound great but it really helped me manage for that period of time. 

It's strange to only visit my home for the first time in five months after losing my Dad, and I have done so very quietly. I've really needed some time to just be in my house and be with my family. Five months later and I'm encountering a lot of 'firsts' that come with being home. The night I got home, I went to the fridge and noticed my Dad's slippers by the back door where they've always been, as if he'd never gone away. I noticed his glasses on his bedside table and I noticed his favourite mustards in our fridge, right where they belong. I sat down to get my pyjamas out of my drawer and was hit with the gut-wrenching memory of finding out that my Dad had died, as that's exactly where I was. I've found myself with my head in his wardrobe trying to smell 'Dad', although I think everything is clean now but seeing his shirts just took me back to each and every memory of him. Seeing his coat on the coat rack sends me right back into his arms. He'd get out of the car when he'd come to see me and would give me a big Dad hug and I'd be swallowed by his arms and by the huge huge coat.

There's been a few difficulties that I really need my Dad's help/advice with, and trying to deal with all of it predominantly by myself is challenging but I'm trying my best, and asking myself 'what would Dad do?' has become the new norm. 

As for me right now, I'm not feeling quite as hopeless as I did in the month before (although I probably have every reason to feel like that!). I think I was extremely anxious about leaving the country and that anxiety coupled with everything else put me in a really dark place. My head is slightly clearer now in the sense that I'm not beating myself up over small things. I'm actually feeling quite numb, but when my emotions are triggered I really have a lot to let out. I'll be honest, other than this blog once a month, I'm starting to feel I shouldn't be bringing my Dad or my grief up because I feel it's forgotten about.

When you lose someone you love with every ounce of your soul, the person you've never lived a moment without, you never forget. I can never be 'reminded' because I never stop thinking about him. I look for him in every feather, every butterfly, every robin and every shining sun. I even look for him when I hear the slightest creak in the floorboard or feel a gust of wind through the window. 

Five months on and I don't know how I got here but I did, and it's with your love and spirit that I'll keep trying Dad ❤️


Saturday, July 4, 2020

Four Months On.. How Things Really Are

It's strange to see my blog once full of beauty, travel and other light-hearted content, quickly become a dumping ground for my thoughts that I feel are difficult to put into words spoken out loud. I mean, I wish it wasn't this way, but given that it is, I'm glad I have a space I can put these thoughts into words and sentences. I know that other people in similar situations as me also relate and find these blogs helpful, which is great!

It's been four months since my Dad passed away, I haven't read back on my 'three months on' post, but I can only guess it was slightly lighter-hearted than this one will be. I wrote a post recently on mental health awareness and the importance of speaking up and reaching out, however, I've soon become the biggest hypocrite when I don't want to reach out myself. I've been struggling so much more recently with my loss, more than I think is manageable. I'm yet to integrate back into 'normal' life due to lockdown and four months down the line, I'm not sure I'm even ready to. It makes me really upset (crying as typing) to think about life returning to 'normal' when I'm just not ready. I cry every day, multiple times a day and in public too, my tears have no boundaries, I cried buying yoghurt last week! I have so much empathy and respect for people who have lost a parent and still go on.

I saw this post (above) recently and found it so relatable. I was fairly honest with most people when talking about my grief in the very very start, but as time goes on I just wonder how irritating it is to constantly hear the same thing, so I try to break it down and make it a little bit more bearable for the receiver. I just think it can be so hard to be upfront with grief or feelings in general because how somebody responds can have a further impact on those feelings. I'll be very honest and I don't really admit this to anybody but internally, I can get very easily offended when it comes to how someone responds to my grieving. I don't know why that is but I'm extremely protective over my grief and extremely sure of my feelings. I already know that's a fault on my end! (Although I have seen some strange actions occur that do warrant offence haha). Although slightly contradictory, that's not to say that people should just say 'nothing'. I've seen so many grievers online share that it's more painful when people say nothing than when they at least try to be there. I agree with this. There are some really wonderful people who are so thoughtful and kind, those who check up on me every once in a while mean so much to me. I even had a text at the beginning of Father's Day weekend from one of my oldest friends to tell me she's thinking of me for that weekend and that really meant a lot to me. I appreciate every single person and every single message that I get, whether something revolutionary has been said or not. 

I dream often about my Dad. I had one dream in particular where he was wearing the burgundy suit jacket that we laid him to rest in, he put his arms around me and was asking me how long I've been feeling this way, (because I was feeling very low). I woke up feeling somewhat comforted because it really felt like he was there talking to me, comforting me. That same day I was walking and thinking about my Dad and I saw a robin start hopping towards me, I literally burst into tears because it felt like it was him. I am quite desperate for signs from my Dad that he's still around me. I miss my Dad more and more every single day. I've had so many questions in the past month that I've really needed his advice and guidance on and it breaks my heart that he's not here to answer them.

I think I will leave this post here for now. I've been doing some writing separately for myself because even though I do share a lot, there's still a lot of things that are probably better kept to myself. But to sum up, it's so unbelievably tough, I don't feel ready to return to normal things knowing that my Dad isn't here anymore and I miss him seriously beyond any words. 


Sunday, June 21, 2020

Fathers Day

I knew I wanted to write something today, I didn't know what I'd be writing or how I'd feel but today is a very big day and will be for the rest of my life. It's been 3.5 months since my Dad died and today is the first Father's Day without him. 

I remember last year, I was back home and we spent it together as usual. The question of 'is this the last one?' crossed my mind, but I quickly shook it out as I never truly believed that day would come, especially less than a year later. 

The lead up to this day has been a month full of e-mail reminders from companies that I wouldn't buy from for my Dad anyway. My Dad didn't need shower gels, he didn't need Dior Sauvage (despite the e-mails from Dior suggesting that he did). I would've been in Asda or M&S filling up a basket with his favourite nuts and snacks. I would've been picking up a few fancy jars of jam, flavours I wouldn't dream of buying myself. I would've bought him a selection of chutneys, I might've even bought him a selection of cheeses. I would've been in M&S with my mum selecting a new checkered shirt for his never-ending collection or I would've been choosing a new cable knit jumper to be placed on top of one he already had. Now, I queue up in Sainsbury's to buy my weekly food shop and I'm stood in the queue, conveniently next to the extremely loud stand marketing all things Father's Day. The card I'm not buying this year is sitting there, I'm not taking it home. The words are perfect, I would've added my own message in there too, telling him how strong he is, how brave he is and how he's the best Dad in the whole world and I love him beyond words that exist in this card, or ones I can write myself. I woke up this morning with no plans, no running downstairs with his card and present to find him in the kitchen making his morning coffee. No 'Good morning darling!' accompanied with an extremely grateful 'wow, thank you! this is excellent!'. I woke up this morning, I looked out of the window to see if I could see my Dad in the form of a feather, a beam of light or how I usually see him, a robin. I'm getting myself dressed and ready to go to the cemetery this year.

There hasn't been a day where I haven't sobbed missing my Dad, I don't need a special day to think of him, he never leaves my mind. 

Happy Father's Day Dad, you were the best, you still are the best and you always will be. I love you and miss you like you wouldn't believe. ❤️


Friday, June 5, 2020

Three Months On

Today marks three months since I lost my Dad. So much is going on in the world and I very much appreciate having this space on the internet to document and share how everything is. I wasn't going to post an update today given everything that's currently being highlighted in the world, but after reflecting on old blog content last night, I decided it's important for me and my own journey to still document this today.

I wouldn't even know where the month began anymore, lockdown just feels like one large period of time, so identifying when there have been changes in my grief can be difficult to pinpoint. I go through patches of intense grieving and patches of almost needing to avoid my emotions just to get through a few days peacefully. Like I mentioned in a previous post, I've been discovering some new skills like baking and there have been countless occasions where I wish I could just show my Dad what I've been doing. It breaks my heart when I have something I want to talk to him about and I can't. 

I have had many days where I feel extremely depressed about everything and I still do, but I actually wanted to share something positive. I feel that it's my duty to make my Dad proud. I know the kind of things that would actually make my Dad proud and I feel like I'm starting to believe in myself that little bit more to be able to achieve that. I kind of boxed myself off in a category of mediocrity without even realising it and that's not what I have ever envisioned for myself since I can remember. My Dad always encouraged me to do anything I wanted to do and be anything I wanted to be and I should honour both him and myself by making that happen. My Dad's response to me sharing a dream or an ambition with him was always 'So what do you need to do to get there?' or 'So how are you going to do it?' accompanied by 'I will do everything I can and provide whatever you need to make that happen'. I miss him, I miss these conversations so much. I know that's what he's saying to me right now and that's why I'm starting to try to figure it all out. 

I'll do this Dad and I'll make you proud. I promised you that you didn't need to worry about me, (even if I wasn't sure how true that actually was). It's been three months and I miss you all day, every day, every night and I love you, I always will.


Thursday, May 21, 2020

Mental Health Awareness Week - It's Okay To Speak Up

It's Mental Health Awareness Week and I don't think I've ever specifically touched on mental health on my blog, and if I have, it's stayed in my drafts as I've been too nervous to post it. Not because I'm ashamed of myself, but I just didn't believe in my writing enough! Since I've been posting on here more frequently this year and solely about the hard-hitting stuff, I really wanted to share something that I hope will strike a chord with at least one person who's struggling in silence.

I think at this point it's more unusual to come across somebody who hasn't got a history of mental health than somebody who has, whereas when I first noticed I was struggling with my mind ten years ago, I truly felt like I was the only person in the world going through it. It's such a sad reality that most of us have struggled or still struggle with depression and anxiety, not to mention the copious amounts of other mental health disorders that are less frequently touched upon. 

From day one of my struggles, I was always willing to speak up. I wasn't trying to prove anything or raise awareness, I just genuinely wanted someone to help me get the hell out of my head and figure out why I felt the way I did. My diagnosis has bounced between depression and anxiety over the years, primarily depression but I'd say I've suffered more with anxiety in later years and that's something I still deal with every day. The best thing I ever did was speak up, (actually, the best thing I ever did was starting to exercise, but speaking up was the catalyst to opening the conversation about my issues). I spent a good few months feeling, and I quote, 'a big black cloud over my head' before I broke down to my Dad and begged for help. At 14/15 years old I'd never even heard of 'mental health' before, and I'd certainly never heard the word depression. I had absolutely no prior influence to accelerate what I was feeling, I just felt deeply unhappy, foggy in my head and scared. I guess you could put two and two together and say that finding out about my Dads cancer diagnosis triggered this, and I know it frightened me to death about the fragility of his life, but the extent of my issues ended up going beyond that and I would fall into the big black hole of depression that I've climbed out of and fallen back into many times over the years due to many different things. 

If I didn't speak up as often as I did, no matter how difficult it was to say the things I needed to say, I probably wouldn't be here. I'd probably never have got to spend so many precious years with my Dad after my mental health improved and I became so much more loving and (mature dare I say). I probably wouldn't have had the billions of phone calls with my mum with that I do, chatting about anything, everything, and making memories with her every day. I probably wouldn't have seen my brother overcome the biggest tragedy of his life because I would've been too afraid to see it through by his side. I probably wouldn't have met the love of my life and travel around the world together. I probably wouldn't have rekindled my friendship with my best friend, and now we catch each other whenever we fall. I probably wouldn't have made so many delicious meals and I definitely wouldn't have tried so many insanely good foods! I probably wouldn't have discovered my passion for baking and the sheer joy it brings me, and I probably wouldn't have seen my favourite shows that have brought me hours of complete happiness.
That doesn't even scratch the surface of the number of incredible things that happened as a result of me staying here, even when that seemed cruel at the time. If I hadn't spoken out, if I hadn't cried for help, where would I be?

Without question, I'm going through the most difficult, devastating time of my life. There have been many times in the last few months where I'd had enough. I haven't got it all figured out, but I do know this, there will always be better days. There will be days where you think you can't see through to the next hour, but you'll get there. The important thing is to talk. You are absolutely not alone, nobody thinks you're strange, nobody thinks you're crazy and nobody thinks you're a failure. You matter. Your problems matter, no matter how big or small you think they are.

I started writing this post at the beginning of the week and decided to pick it up later on. I've picked it up again after settling myself down to bake some blueberry muffins after a difficult afternoon. I spent it crying after going through the collection of photos I have of me and my Dad, (I then made a video of family photos using the song played at his funeral, so I've been a wreck). To be honest, most days are like that. I genuinely don't know how people get it together after such a heartbreaking loss, my world is completely crumbled. Days like this leave me wondering if there's any hope for the future, but as I read over the first few paragraphs of this blog post, I remind myself that there will be better days. I suppose they will be different, but I have smiled and I will smile again. I'll do it all for my Dad, in due time!! (I'm human and emotional). 

So, I've had my reminder and this is yours. You can do this. You can smile, you can laugh and you can be happy. I am a great believer in a problem shared is a problem halved, (my mum taught me this because telling her the crazy nightmares I'd have really lifted the weight off, haha!). So please, talk to someone. Whether that's your best friend, a family member or a GP, take that first step and let it all out. You have no idea how things can transform for you, you have no idea the amazing opportunities that wait for you and the beautiful future you're destined to create. 

If anybody reading this wants to talk about anything, you can always send me a message. 


Samaritans Helpline - 116 123
Mind - Mental Health Charity & Support

Friday, May 15, 2020

Love Yourself In Lockdown

I don't know about anybody else, but I've spent a good portion of lockdown looking and feeling pretty lacklustre! (Okay, I think I do know, and I'm sure I'm not alone on that!). Whilst it's the easiest thing in the world to let the days roll by and barely shift out of your pyjamas, it can actually make you feel pretty rubbish, can't it? On the days where I'm spending day after day chucking on the same baggy t-shirt, I definitely don't feel my best! It took me a little while, but after I realised that even though I may not be out and about and seeing different people, I still deserve to love myself for me! (And maybe make a little bit of effort for my boyfriend too, oops).

I thought I would spread the love and share some of my best 'love yourself' self-care tips that you can do during lockdown too, (and we should definitely be continuing these going forward!).


This was actually the first thing that I let slip when we went into lockdown and the first thing that I picked up again when I realised my body was seriously lacking some h20. By drinking water frequently, I was beginning to incorporate some of the routines I had before back into my life. I also noticed my concentration levels had sky-rocketed and I was beginning to get the motivation back to make further positive changes as my head started to clear up. We all know water has endless benefits to our health, so go and grab yourself a nice big glass right now!


I'm so sorry that doesn't say 'lie on the sofa all day', but it's true, exercising is one of the most amazing ways to love yourself! I've been doing the Tone & Sculpt new 'Sculpt It' guide since the gyms closed down and I couldn't be happier. The guide is circuit based and only takes up thirty minutes of your day, yet it leaves you feeling strong, fabulous and motivated! I checked my diary and found no excuses to not fit one of these workouts into my day, and my mind and body are thanking me so much for it. If you have gym equipment at home, then go ahead and keep smashing your gym workouts! If you don't the app has endless incredible workouts that you can do with or without equipment! Take the time for yourself, you deserve it!


It would be cruel to suggest that you don't indulge in some treats every now and again, well, I'd be a fraud considering the stash I have in my cupboard at the moment! But I feel so much better in myself for eating my wholesome and nutritious foods. I'm sure we all agree that one too many trips to the snack cupboard can leave you feeling lethargic, so I try to have balanced meals for my breakfast, lunch and dinner. My favourite meal of the day is breakfast, and I kickstart the day with my favourite Tone & Sculpt meal, scrambled eggs on toast with a side of strawberries! (I definitely dip into my bag of Maltesers every now and again, because that's self-love too!), but Tone & Sculpt have added countless new dessert recipes to the app, so there's no reason why we can't enjoy a bit of everything! I'm looking at you, three-ingredient brownies!


I hope I'm not alone in this, but my screen time shot up dramatically once we entered lockdown! It's just frightening to think I could spend an entire day staring at my phone, so I decided to pick up a book! Reading deserves a lot more hype, it's an opportunity to escape our own lives and enter somebody else's, or it's an opportunity to learn something new or expand our knowledge on an existing interest. There are so many great places online to find book reviews, you can even join one of the many book clubs on Instagram! Put that phone away and get stuck into that book you've had that you promised you'd read a year ago! (Definitely not talking about myself).


I thought I would round up my 'love yourself in lockdown' tips with a bit of 'me time'. Something we all never seem to have enough time for, so now is the perfect opportunity to do that face mask, perfect that skincare routine and invest in that cute fluffy dressing gown. I recently invested in a whole host of new serums, lotions and potions to try out whilst I had all of this new free time and I've found it a very therapeutic part of the day to simply take care of my skin, take care of my hair and moisturise my legs because sadly, some things get neglected when we're rushing from one thing to the next! Like I said at the start, it's too easy to forget about ourselves at the moment, but it can transform your mind and soul just by taking some time for yourself and treating yourself with the love you deserve!

It's so easy to neglect ourselves when it comes to spreading the love, and I've found that by taking the time for myself and practising the five tips above has helped me feel revitalised and more positive during lockdown, and I'll certainly be continuing them after! So wake up in the morning, have a big delicious breakfast, put some fresh pyjamas on and give yourself the love you deserve! 


Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Two Months On

Today marks two months since my wonderful Dad passed away. It's frightening how time stops for nobody and continues on, even if we're not ready to move with it. I hate that it's been just over two months since I last heard my Dads voice, it's not normal and it never will be. I hate how it's been two months since my Dad took his last breath. He was always the most special, always the most precious but he becomes more and more treasured to me as the days go by without him.

I have spent probably my whole life completely deluded into thinking that grief goes like this, 'person dies' .. 'you feel the most intense pain and sadness immediately' .. 'life gets easier as time passes by'. WRONG! It's actually so much harder as time goes on because I grieve different parts of my Dad, different memories and experiences that he's not here to share every day. 

I've been learning more and more about cooking every day during quarantine, you could even say it's become quite a passion of mine now and this is something I am desperate to share with Dad. Dad was always the cook of the house and I grew up on whichever delicious meal I desired that day because I was for sure a Dad's girl, (we don't say Daddy around here, it's super weird), and he would love whipping together anything and everything! My favourite was spaghetti bolognese. He was always bringing the family together with food. We'd be off doing our own thing, but when Dad called 'foods ready!!!', we'd all drop everything hop-foot it downstairs ready for dinner. When Dad passed away, he knew I'd been trying broccoli and now love to eat it, (I have an issue with vegetables but this post isn't about that!), he was so proud of me for that as I've always been trouble with my limited palate. What he doesn't know, is that now I cook with onions, chillis, spring onions and ginger AND I eat it too. I can make my own homemade salt & pepper chips. I made the Wagamama chicken katsu curry, from scratch!! I've perfected my roast potato recipe. I just want to send him the photos of the food and call him up and tell him my exact method, how I chopped it and how proud I am for doing it, all by myself! I know that he would love to hear about it and would be so excited to try it! I promised him I would cook my broccoli for him, and I never got the chance. I'm sure the tenderstem broccoli in heaven isn't as good as mine when I stir fry it with garlic and ginger, but Dad was never a big fan of garlic, so that's okay.

That's just one of the simple things that have left me feeling the massive Dad shaped hole in my heart in just two months of his absence. My relationship with Dad was so much more than just cooking, so I can't even begin to write down the copious other things that hurt my heart every time he's not here to share them with or to talk to him about.

Treasure your parents if you're lucky enough to have them. It's a lifelong stab in the chest to lose one, and then you try to learn to live with the wound. I remember just wanting to wrap Dad up in cotton wool and bring him home, I just wanted to protect him forever and ever. I would give anything for him to be with us. 

So two months later and I'm missing your voice like you wouldn't believe. I'm missing your hugs, I've said it a million times and I'll say it for the rest of my life. I'm missing your comforting words, your humbling words and your guidance. I'm missing your interest, your passion and your intellect. I miss you now and I will be missing you forever.


Sunday, April 26, 2020

Thoughts & Feelings - Missing Dad & Adjusting to Quarantine

Normally when I'm writing, I like to know the general idea of what I'm going to write about and have a title in mind, but I honestly don't know where this one is going, I just wanted to write. (I figured out a title, as there is probably going to be a series of posts like this!).

Life is just hard right now. I'm not expecting it to be easy, but it doesn't make the difficulties any more bearable. I just miss my Dad so much. So much that it physically hurts every part of me and even writing this brings on another bout of tears and pain. I picture his face and I just want him back. I just want to hear his voice and I want a big Dad hug. He had the most positive voice and attitude and its times like this that I need him the most. 

Despite my emotions crumbling more and more every day, I've actually taken some really positive steps for myself in the last week. I've been writing down a list of things that I want to do each day, first thing in the morning! Then I go about my day ticking them off, mostly! It's given me some structure and has also given me a chance of coping. Whilst downtime is good for me, I also cope a lot better when I'm occupied with something, and lockdown is making it much harder to occupy myself. There's only so much baking that you can do before you can't bear to look at another cupcake for a while! I have been working out again which I've been enjoying so much! It feels good to do something positive for my body after a few months of neglecting it!

I miss my mum and brother a lot. I didn't live at home anyway so of course, I didn't see them every day, but it's been so long since I saw them and we should be able to be together and comfort each other. I do have so much support, but the three of us know exactly the pain we're going through and it would probably make things that little bit easier if we could see each other. 

I know I shouldn't, but I have been wondering what people may or may not think about what I'm writing. It's natural I suppose and it wouldn't stop me, but I am curious! I generally assume that people roll their eyes every time I post something like this, or post anything about Dad or grieving. Of course, that isn't going to stop me writing. It's funny because my boyfriend just saw me typing away and asks me what I'm doing, so I said 'I'm writing' and he said he's so happy to see me writing because he knows I always feel much better after it! He's seen me in floods of tears every single day throughout the day, so he knows how much I need some kind of relief! We all grieve and cope in our own ways, I have lots of different coping mechanisms and writing is definitely one of them. 

I'm not kidding when I say every single time I think of Dad at the moment, I burst into tears. It's only really been like that in the last week because before that I could think about him and be quite peaceful, but now I just erupt in tears! I think before, I was still in a state of processing the shock of losing him and also adjusting to quarantine life which was definitely at the forefront of my mind, but now I've settled more into this new lockdown life, I'm facing the reality of Dad not being here anymore. It's times like this where I'd want to go to the beach we used to go to as kids and various other things that would help me feel closer to Dad. God forbid when life actually returns to 'normal' and then I'm really thrown in at the deep end. Lockdown has just added another layer to grief that was totally unnecessary. 

This post has been a bit all over the place, but it's got various things off my chest! I just want a few days of respite. Writing usually gives me some relief, so maybe I can have a few days of stillness in my heart now. My eyes are constantly stinging from crying all the time and my anxiety has gotten so high, I don't even know why. I can hear my heart beating so loud when I try to relax. It's reminding me of a fraction of how I felt at the time leading up to my Dads passing. (Side note, I actually want to write about that at some point, it was a harrowing experience and it hurts when I think about it but I definitely want to share that experience at some point. Ahh, my incessant need to share.).

To sum up this long-winded post, I miss my Dad incredible amounts. Sometimes to the point where I think my heart will stop if I feel any more pain. It's just not enough for me at the moment to know 'he's always with me'. It's not the same when I'm longing for his physical presence. Anyway, I say this probably every day but 'there will be better days'. There has been, and there will be more again. I am hopeful, I'll keep trying.


Thursday, April 16, 2020

Six Weeks, Six Lessons - Grief & Loss

A beautiful quote from an amazing author I recently discovered, and something I feel so strongly about.

In the last week, I've begun to understand very clearly that the greatest loss of my life has triggered a strong desire for me to share every one of my experiences in regards to that lifelong grief journey. This is something I want to do now, and maybe something I will continue forever. Either way, I want to start by saying this desire to share is not my weakness. This is a strength I have found amongst the gut-wrenching pain of losing my Dad. The ability to share these thoughts and feelings is what guides me through them, so I hope whether you're here because you can relate, or you're here because it's a good read, I hope that you find something useful from it.

It's been six weeks since I lost my Dad to cancer. Six weeks of a whole host of emotions and six weeks of lessons. You see, grief is the greatest teacher I desperately feared lessons from. The 'grief club' is a club I didn't want a membership to, same with the 'lost a parent' club. Sometimes I look at myself and question why I think I'm qualified to talk about grief when I'm only six weeks deep and have a lifetime of twists and turns with it ahead of me. So with that, I'm not offering advice or suggestions, I just want to share some experiences and primarily lessons that I have learnt this far.

I really thought I knew it all. I've been working so hard on my mental health for the last year (prior to losing my Dad), and I really thought I had the answers that would help myself and everybody. The truth is, everybody grieves differently, even if it's for the same person. What works for me may not work for the next person, and the sad truth is, grieving is an emotion that simply cannot be fixed by eating well and working out. Sure, those are positive actions that will provide better foundations for your mind and body, but they're not the 'answer'. Lesson number one, there is no answer. I've said it before and will say it forever, grief is a journey and typically an endless one. 

Going back to what I just said, you can be grieving the same person but an entirely different loss. In the beginning, my mum, brother and I stood by the fact that we were all experiencing the same pain and the same loss. This was to bring a sense of comfort that we were not alone. The truth is, yes we're not alone, but no, we're not experiencing the same loss or pain, in many ways. I have lost my guidance, my light to turn to in the dark, my voice of reason, my daily caring and loving joy. My brother has lost his best friend, his coffee date, his navigator through life and his greatest teacher. My mum has lost her husband, everything she has ever known. I won't write anymore on that as it truly breaks my heart into a trillion pieces to imagine the magnitude of her loss. But that is something I have opened my eyes to recently. It is different, and the support needs to match that. I reflect on the conversations I have had with my mum in the last six weeks and I wish I had that understanding from the beginning so I could process it in my head accordingly. Lesson number two, grieving the same person does not mean the same grief.

Following on from that, everybody's loss is different. That goes for losing the same relationship eg. two different people losing a parent, or two different people losing two different relationships eg. one a parent and the other a different relationship. The latter is the most sensitive to compare. I just think it's a risky game to try to relate to someone's loss with an entirely different loss. In my opinion and experience, it doesn't always receive well. Not because I don't believe anyone could experience those same traumatic feelings, I just think sometimes we like to try very hard to relate, when it's okay not to. Lesson number three, grief is not up for comparison, but it's precious to share personal experiences.

Somehow these paragraphs are linking well one after the other, it wasn't my intention but I'll roll with it! Grieving and loss are taboo subjects, purely because they're highly emotional topics and it's a highly vulnerable state to be in. People often don't know what to say in fear of saying the wrong thing, so they'd rather say nothing at all. I've also noticed that people can actively avoid talking to you about what you're going through to avoid those uncomfortable moments for themselves. If you didn't already know, I could talk about my Dad and my experience until the end of time, and the fact that sometimes that's brushed past, it hurts and makes me feel alone. As of now, that's rarely happened to me and I've had the chance to express my feelings to people many times, but the occasions it did happen truly hurt and left me feeling like I had all of this love for my Dad, all of this pain and nowhere to express it. Understandably, some people don't like to talk about their loss, but usually, you will receive clear signs and even words from them that that's how they'd feel comfortable going forward. Lesson number four, be selfless and don't be afraid of one of the most human emotions there is.

If you do have the courage to ask somebody how they're doing or you want to find a way to help, that's a wonderful gift in itself and I can't tell you how appreciated it is, I am so touched with the support I've received, and I don't think I've had anyone believe that can fix things, but for anybody who can feel discouraged, please don't be discouraged by the fact that you simply cannot fix things. It's very kind and compassionate to want to make things right, and of course, the sentiment is appreciated, but you can't fix what's happened, no words will fix what's happened and it will never be fixed. Once you can accept that, you can find peace in giving the person who needs the support the best support you can. It's very important to understand how the person grieving needs to be supported, rather than how you feel that person needs to be supported. My current experience of this is very minimal as there isn't much people can do given that we're in lockdown, but for me, I know I need a healthy mixture of time to myself and time communicating with other people. Lesson number five, don't be discouraged about your ability to support somebody just because you can't take away their pain. 

I've found myself immersed in reading material on grief, loss, loss from cancer, loss of a parent and even loss of a husband, just so I can try to understand even a fraction of what my mum is going through so I can give her better support. I actually will make one suggestion that regardless of how new I am to this kind of grief will be helpful, if you're closely supporting somebody grieving, do some research on what they're going through as specifically as you can. I know I don't understand my mums exact pain from experience, but I want to be a better support and a better daughter, so reading things that can open my mind is slowly giving me a better understanding and more patience. Anyway, from reading endless material, I often got lost in peoples stories of hopelessness and became fearful for a bleak future but then also clung onto every other persons words who shone a light on the future and gave me hope. Neither of these are correct as the truth is, grief is your own personal journey. To an extent, and this is only what I believe right now, I'm aware things will develop and change but for now, I think your grief journey has a lot to do with what you make it. I'll hold that thought for now. Lesson number six, listen to other peoples accounts of grief, but remember, your journey is personal to you. 

Okay, on reflection, my six lessons are a little bit of advice too even though I said I wouldn't give any. The point is, it's been a tumultuous six weeks since we lost my wonderful Dad. For the love of God it's been all over the show. Weeks of numbness, weeks of pain and hopelessness, weeks of overwhelming sadness and all in all, six weeks of lessons I never wanted but got anyway. There is a future to be had, a future of uncertainty, but I believe as long as I can keep writing, my dads legacy continues with me. I hope this has been a helpful insight and I hope I'm opening up the topic of grief for discussion. 


Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Dealing with loss whilst in quarantine

I found it very therapeutic for a little while after writing and sharing my last post about losing my Dad. I also mentioned that I wanted to use this blog almost like a diary for me, not necessarily because I have something structured to say. 

It's mid-way through week two in quarantine or self-isolation and life has changed for everybody, not just me. I'm at a bit of a loss for what to do really because just under four weeks ago, my world fell apart. My life changed forever and the way to try to move forward with that was with the support of family and friends, being around the people I love and having them hold me up in a time where I desperately need it. Fast forward to now and everybody is dealing with their own personal struggles that have come as a consequence of coronavirus. It's a very lonely time. 

I went to visit my Dad today in the chapel of rest. Since he passed away I had decided against going to see him there, I just felt I didn't want to revisit those emotions again as the road ahead is difficult enough. Over the past four weeks, I've been dreaming about him every night and that he'd come back so I could have one last conversation with him. I thought again about visiting him there as I felt it could be a very important part of the grieving process and to have that chance to be with him one last time. Things have been so much harder for a while, his absence is becoming more and more prominent each day and has become so much more real since my last post. I'm actually feeling very depressed. I've suffered from depression greatly over the last ten years and it was actually my Dad that sought help for me all those years ago. It's been my Dad that I've turned to when I felt there was no light at the end of the tunnel. On my way to visit him today, I felt such emotion for the fact that this was the final time I'd be going to him in my helpless moments. I'm glad I got to be with him and share some final moments in his physical presence, however thanks to lockdown I couldn't be with my family afterwards or have much time to process it.

Lockdown is having such a strong effect on my mental health on top of losing my Dad. It's making the most difficult time of my life so much harder. I can't be with my family, I can't do the majority of things that would typically help me, or at least distract me. I honestly thought the numbness of grief would last for a couple of months or so but with the amount of time I'm spending by myself, I can't help but feel the pain and the longing. It kills me every day. I know how painful it is for those who have loved ones in end of life care/have passed away during this time. 

I'm re-reading this post many times whilst I'm writing it and I'm quite conscious of what people might say as it's very negative, but I want to express my emotions. (Honestly, I'm still holding back so much of what I truly want to say.. and have typed out about twenty times).

The bottom line is, I'm not okay. I might not cry when I talk to people, but I am absolutely less than okay. I am less than coping. I hope and pray that as a nation we pull together and do what is required of us (stay home) so we can get out of this mess sooner. I just want to be able to take care of myself and my family and try to process the loss of my Dad, the person we love more than anything on this Earth. 

I'm sure there will be better days just like there are bad days. I'm having a lot of consecutive bad days which is what brought me back here again, but I hope to share something more positive in the near future. I do have hope for better days, for example, tomorrow I have some rhinestones arriving and I'm going to bedazzle the hell out of all of my make-up brushes. Lord knows there's good in that. 

I hope everyone who is reading this during the coronavirus period is keeping well, safe, and finding things to keep yourself occupied. I would love to learn some new skills. Tomorrow, I bedazzle. Some people go to therapy, I turn to bedazzling. My Dad would not be surprised after me filling my room with glitter and sparkly things my whole childhood. 

I will post again, possibly when I have done something positive and can share some hope but at the end of the day, what's the good in 'it's okay to talk' or 'speak up' if I just sprinkle sunshine everywhere when I feel like a massive grey cloud. I have put a really happy photo below though as it very much makes me smile no matter what :)

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