Sadie Rae Shares Her Story

The aim of this platform is to get grief spoken about in a less awkward and more open way, so I have reached out to some incredible people who all have a different story when it comes to grief, and have agreed to share it with the world through The Girl with Grief platform.

Meet Sadie Rae

Firstly, thank you for allowing me to share your story with the world and I’m honoured to dedicate to your amazing mum Emma.

Myself and Sadie went to the same primary and secondary school so have know each other about 20 years. Sadie was the only person I knew that had lost a parent at the time of my mums’ death and she was a really big support and someone I reached out to when I went through the same heartbreak. At the early years after my mum’s death we spent a lot of time attending NDubs concerts (yes, we liked NDubs haha) and did bond over our grief. As the years have gone on and I moved away from our home town we don’t see each other often but via social media I kept up with her and how amazing she is doing many years on from her loss.

So, on my journey to get grief spoken about more openly Sadie agreed to share her story. I asked a few questions you may have seen on a previous blog post with April & Beth so please read to hear Sadie’s answers.

Sadie shares her story:

Who have you lost? My Mum

What is there name? Emma

How old where you when you lost your mum? 12

How did they die? She lost her life at the hands of domestic violence 

Tell me about the moment you found out and the feelings that comes with it?

I had waited all day with the thoughts of something not being right, until the best time to tell me was (although looking back I don’t think there would of ever have been a best time). I was instantly broken; I remember not being able to breathe. I was stunned by the surprised of it all, especially in the way she was killed. 

How do you think losing your loved one has changed you as a person?

It has affected every aspect of my life, the decisions I make in life always subconsciously come down to the fact my childhood shaped me and the trauma I am still dealing with. It effects who I chose as friends and partners (good and bad), I will always sit in fear that I am going to lose someone else and start the grieving journey all over again. 


What is your happiest memory of them?

Staying up really late on a school night, talking about the whole world and how we were going to rule it; we were going to be unbeatable. 


Any bits of advice you’d give to someone who is currently going through what you went through?

Everything you feel is okay, you will still be hit by the grief wave in the middle of a good day years and years later but it’s okay. It is absolutely okay for you to feel nothing as well, it comes in different ways. You don’t have to be strong all the time, you can cry and it doesn’t mean you have lost your power. 

Anything else you’d like to add?

I do wonder what life I would of lead if I was to have grown up with parents, where I would be now? Would I be so level headed and mature or would I of been a typical teenager living my best life. I also wonder if grief has made me the way I am or if that was always who I was going to be. The unknown and the what ifs are what will get you sad, remember the memories but do not live in them and do not constantly think of the unknown.

I remember when I found out about Sadie’s mums’ death, I was on a ski school trip and heard that someone had been murdered in the area we lived. I rang home and that was when my mum told me the news but couldn’t share any details, my heart dropped knowing how young Sadie and her sister were and having to deal with your mothers’ death is so tough but doing it while it was local news must have been even tougher. You have achieved great things in life Sadie and I know your mum would have been so proud of you.

The advice Sadie shares ‘You don’t have to be strong all the time, you can cry’ goes nicely with my mental health blog I recently posted, please don’t put up a strong front if really your struggling inside. There is a lot of people out there wanting to listen and my email/DM’s are always open for anyone however far into your grief journey you are.

Sadie, from the bottom of my heart thank you for getting involved in this little project of mine, it’s a big ask to let me write about such a personal experience all over the internet but I’m glad you can be part of this movement. Together we can make Grief a more open and less awkward subject xx

A Letter To My Mum…

Over the last couple of months, I have been reading books, journaling and really learning and understanding my grief in a deeper level. A few books I have read have suggested writing monthly/yearly letters to your loved one. So, I thought id give it ago, some people may find this strange but its quite a nice healing process and I think anyone grieving should give this ago.

Dear Mum,

Its been just over 10 years since you fell to the bathroom floor and took your last breath.

In the first year it felt so wrong to carry on living life without you around but me, Danielle, Sue Sue, Lauren and Sadie adjusted to our new normal and became the Ward/East household but here we are 10 years on missing you more than ever.

Mum, losing you was the biggest shock of our lives and not a day goes by where I wish it was a dream and you’d just walk through the door. I have even dreamt about that moment many times over the years, you just being there in person to hug. We have never been affectionate family but if I could turn back time id hug you ever night before bed.

I just want to say thank you for always having my back and being a best friend not only my mum. I always had drama in school and you always had my back, I remember you driving up to the school gates to pick me up to make sure I was safe, and when Danielle and Lauren had drama you would always be there fighting all of our corners. People used to say ‘oh look your mums involved’ but that was because we told you everything, even our friends told you everything. So, this is just a little sorry if we ever stressed you our during our high school years.

Life’s been tough without you mum, every big life event, every Christmas, every birthday always feels like something is missing and that’s you. I know you’re with us in spirit but it makes me sad that you weren’t there to see me graduate, to drop me at the airport when I travelled the world, to hold Danielle’s hand when she was in labour and to watch your first grandchild start school.

I’m so angry that we didn’t get to tell you how much we love you or say goodbye while you could hear us but I think if we could have prepared for losing you it would have been even tougher. Losing you really affected so many people. Your funeral had over 400 people attend, we got had the best night at the wake. Honestly, you’d have been impressed with how drunk everyone was, we really did celebrate you the way you would have partied up Farleigh.

Since you left us, I got my GCSE’S and A Levels and an architecture degree…bet you would never have expected that. At 18 I moved half way across the country to Bristol, where I grew as a person and really grew up. After graduating I finally travelled the world like id always dreamed off, I can only really thank you for that opportunity. Yes, I’d rather you be here and not done it but if I was going to use the money you left us it was going to be seeing the world and making incredible memories. Every day I done something new like jump out of a plane or bungee jump or hike for 6 hours I always wished I could just face time you and tell you. Traveling really did make me face my grief as I had a lot of time to think and just apricate life for what it is.

Sue sue kept her promise and looked after me and Danielle, she has a lot of knickers to wash and 4 hormonal teenagers to look after. She had tears over boyfriends, showering our sick off us drunk, to running a hotel every time we all decide to go home for the weekend. You owe her big time! I would say Lauren learnt to handle her drink but that would be a lie haha, but you’d be super proud she brought her first house and now has started her own little family with bailey the pup and Kier. I think you’d like Kier a lot he would defo sink some vodkas with you. Sade’s has a pretty tough few year’s but now she’s smashing and loving her new job as an estate agent and finally moved out (Sue Sue can’t finally have some quiet time after 10 years of carnage). Danielle is living by the seaside being the best mum to your first grandchild.

Honestly mum the one thing you’d be most proud of is our little lils…honestly Danielle made you the perfect grandchild. She has a laugh like you, she’s an attitude, she has the funniest personality and she’s the fussiest eater just like me. We make sure she knows who her nanny in the sky is and we take her to ‘nanny’s garden’ where she will ask questions about you. This was hard to hear at first ‘what happened to nanny’ ‘why is nanny in the garden’ but it also warms my heart and allows us to tell lily how amazing you was. She started school last month and is already impressing suesue with her sounds and reading. You’d be so proud of Lils and Danielle right now, making a strong little mother and daughter unit.

We miss you mum but will all continue to make you proud and I promise I will make sure people never forget how great you were.

Love Emma xx

When Grief Affected My Mental Health

As most of you know it was world mental health day yesterday so I think its time I talk about my mental health and how grief has affected it.

For the majority of my life, I’ve always been a happy positive person and I really do think that life’s to short not to be positive but because of this mindset over the years, I’ve subconsciously been putting pressure on myself to be ok or at least put on an act when truthfully I’ve not always been ok.

As you all know I lost my mum when I was 15 years old and even then and for many years after I always said I was ok. Reality check Emma ‘your mum had just unexpectedly died in front of you if anything you shouldn’t have been ok’. I’m also someone that has always been labeled ‘strong’ and this is a label I’ve tried to live up to, even at times this meant putting up a front. I’m quite good at this ‘yes I’m fine or I’ll be fine’ because I don’t want people to that rely on/look up to me for being strong to worry.

But recently I’ve come to realise we need to stop labeling people ‘strong’ because it puts pressure on people and it’s most likely stopping them from speaking out if struggling due to the fear of letting people down or making people worry. This year it took a pandemic and a lockdown for people to check in on friends and family, check in on how they were really doing. Lockdown heightened a lot of people’s feelings and unfortunately, the rise in suicides increased as well of the direct impact of the large number of deaths due to the virus meaning there’s a whole lot of people joining the grief community in the space of 6 months.

Anyway, the aim of this post isn’t to shock people, isn’t for attention, its simply just part of my grief journey that I feel I need to share. After all, I did make this blog to make grief a less awkward and more open subject to talk about and that also means talking about how grief can affect your mental health because it would be mad and not normal to be completely fine after losing someone.

Grief is a crazy thing and for the first few years after my mum passing I honestly went into this mindset of ‘I’M FINE’ and I think I kind of tricked myself into believing this. I wouldn’t think about my mum in the first year or so I would just keep busy to keep my mind off things. I kind of just shut down any emotion when it came to the death of my mum, it had happened and we all just needed to get on with our lives we couldn’t sit around feeling sorry for ourselves. Looking back this is such a bizarre mindset, all our lives had just been turned upside down and no one wanted to talk about it, no one showed they were having a bad day.

It wasn’t until roughly 4 years after my mum had died, I was in my second year of uni when my mental health took a turn. My friends and family may be reading this and thinking ‘huh you’ve never spoken about this’ but like I said I was very good at putting on a front and where I was living in bristol it was very easily done to family and friends back home. I was living in a great city with so many great new friends…how could I tell them I was feeling so low? I didn’t want to feel like a failure and I felt there only response would be to tell me to come home for a while but I loved the life I was living, my mental health was just struggling. In hindsight yes I probably should have spoken to my friends and family but its all been part of my grief journey and how I got to this open and honest place today. I wasn’t suffering alone, I had the support I just didn’t want to stress any of my family out, they were grieving and the last thing I wanted was for them to be worried about me considering I was living the other side of the country to them.

To be honest to this day I’m not sure what triggered/started my sad thoughts, if it was due to uni stress, drinking too much, and being constantly hungover, if it was just simply delayed grief I couldn’t tell you but I would just lie in bed and cry my self to sleep. Writing this makes me super sad and emotional because I really wasn’t in a good place some days but then I was so good the next day. Like it was a constant battle in my mind when I was sad because I would always question myself ‘why’ i shouldn’t of been feeling like this, I was living a great life with great people around me but this is the thing with mental health even the people with the perfect life may still be struggling. This is very hard for me to write but I remember when I finally got to my lowest when I was sat in bed and thought ‘maybe it would be easier if I wasn’t here’. This was just one thought I had one night, I never thought about acting on that thought nothing more but if I’m going to talk about this openly I wanted to be as honest as possible. This was when I thought I might actually need help now, so I made the brave step of contacting the uni doctors to only be sent a form and asked if I was ok to be put on a 6-month waiting list to see someone. 6 months honestly it’s crazy that there isn’t funding that goes into making these waiting lists shorter. 6 months might be too long for some people!

I would just like to mention an old friend who was there for me through all of this, Dylan if your reading this, yes you may have done something that crushed me (friends with benefits are never plain sailing, yes we can laugh about it now) but you were also a shoulder to cry on even when you were in a rough place with your mental health you always sat up for hours listening to my problems. You were the first and only person I openly admitted to about feeling depressed. So just a little thank you for being there in what I would say was my darkest time.

I worked through how I was feeling and went on to have some of the best years of my life since.

It was only recently in lockdown like many others I felt like I was struggling with my mind again. However, I realised a good coping mechanism for me is writing so I started journaling before bed each night, and then this led me on to starting the girl with grief. I also put a lot of time into exercising over lockdown which really does help me clear your mind, de-stress, and lower any anxiety I’m feeling. So find your way of coping, whether that’s talking, writing, exercise, crying just let your emotions out somehow and better days will follow however hard that is to believe at the time.

The Girl with Grief is a place I want to be fully honest and open with the reader so anyone that is at a low point in there grieving journey can see they’re not alone we all have our ups and down days but I just want to say please please seek help or reach out if your suffering alone. I no my family would have been so supportive and so will yours. a problem shared is a problem halved and tbh if id opened up then id already off been on my way to making grief a less awkward and more open subject to talk about but here I am 6 years on from my lowest point learning from all these emotions and sharing them with the world in the hope I can help at least one person on there grief journey.

I do feel it’s very easy for people to come on here and say ‘speak up’ but its a lot harder and nerve-racking than some people may feel. Mental health, depression, and grief are all still taboo subjects but the more awareness, money, and time put into things like therapy and support groups, etc, the less taboo they will get! I am proud that we are a generation that has started these conversations so publicly.

I know its cliche but I am always here if anyone wants a chat.

Love the Girl with Grief

xx

Taking on the role of mum: Dedicate to my wonderful Auntie Sue Sue

The only way to start this blog post is by sharing my aunties tribute to my mum from the funeral:

Alison,

You were not only my little sister, you were my best friend.

You were the sensible one who I came to when I needed advice. We shared our holidays and has so much fun – all girls together.

We made a pledge to each other that we would look after each others girls and that is exactly what I will do. Your girls are with me now and I will carry on raisin them just as you did. I am going to try and master the Lally look that my girls got from you when you were not happy with them.

Forever in my heart. Sleep tight my darling sister.

Love Susan xxx

Reading this from the funeral programme still gives me goose bumps, they had this pledge for years but never at the age of 50 did Sue Sue feel she would be stepping up as the role of mum to not only 2 but 4 teenage girls.

So, a few weeks back I spent the weekend in Devon with two friends, after a day at the beach we had a BBQ and drank multiple bottles of prosecco watching the sun set while talking about our family and past. This got me thinking It’s about time I write a post dedicated to my auntie, Sue Sue.

For anyone who read ‘My Story’ will know I moved in with my auntie after my mum passed. My mums’ side of the family have always been super close and I will forever be grateful for my auntie taking me and my sister on. She had only just turned 50 and ended up with 4 teenage girls aged between 14-18, 2 had lost their mum, 2 had lost their auntie, she had lost her little sister and not once did she complain, we were now a family of 5 with a strong bond and a hell of a lot of knickers to wash haha.

Talking about my past with people who didn’t know me at the time of mum’s death makes me reflect how lucky I actually was/am. Not everyone is close with there family, not everyone has someone who wants to take them on at 15, not everyone has an auntie like I do.

You’re probably thinking why did you move in with your auntie and not your dad. So, my dad is around and has always been around however him and my mum split roughly 4 years prior to my mum’s death so we hadn’t lived with him for a while. It was just a very natural feeling for me to move into suesue’s. Me and my sister were two young teenagers going through high school and still had our lives ahead of us, for me I need a mother figure, I needed to live with someone who could guide us through all the crazy female emotions and life events we were still yet to experience. Periods, boyfriends, sex all these things I feel should be spoken about with your mum (or whoever takes on the role of mum) my mums’ side have always been a close and open family so I’m glad we had my auntie to turn to with all these things.

Taking on the role of mum for myself and Danielle while already having Lauren and Sadie must have been very difficult but she never thought twice. There was never the feeling of her trying to replace mum that some people may get with a step parent, she was just my biggest support and there isn’t anything to show how thankful we are. Reflecting back now we are 10 years on and ¾ of us have moved away from home, it’s crazy to think we all lived on top each other for the first year, all of us had lost and were grieving in so many different ways but selfishly (as you are at 15) I never actually thought how my auntie felt and how she was coping, she was there to support us, there to hug us when we was having a down day. Even now if I go home for a weekend she’s the first to know when something is wrong or stressing me out, all she’s got to say is ‘I no its getting to you what’s up’ and I burst into tears and we sit talking it all out. Sue sue fully supported our grieving process and always ‘rides the waves’ as she would say but now were 10 years on, older and wiser its time to look after her (well when I’m a millionaire I’ll take away all money worries haha).

I know my auntie supports everything I do but I also understand she isn’t ready to read thegrilwithgrief, it’s me letting the world in to a very personal journey of mine and I respect that it can bring back a lot of memories for my mums’ closest family and friends. Everyone grieves differently and everyone grieves forever so this post is really just an appreciation post to a wonderful person that means so much to me. I honestly don’t no where i would be with out her. As a family we have been thrown a pretty shit hand in life but whatever life continues to throw our way, we will support each other till the end.

The main message from this post is to reach out and check up on people grieving, even if they did take you on, even if they are older, they still lost the someone as close as you did. So however, many days, weeks, years on a simple message, if its random, if it’s on an anniversary, if it’s a birthday, any day a simple ‘how are you feeling’ can go a long way.

I was lucky to have a lot of friends and family around me at the time of my mum’s death but if your reading this and thinking your alone please reach out. I will be hear to support you as much as I can.

Love the Girl with Grief xx

Is it ok to grieve for someone that’s done wrong by you? Is it ok to grieve for someone you haven’t seen or spoke to in a while?

The grief I’ve never spoken about: Dedicated to Duncan Evans

A slightly different post today. Is it ok to grieve for someone that may have done you wrong? Or someone you weren’t as close with when they passed? For me the answer is yes, you may not of seen someone for a good few years but if the impacts your life at all your 100% going to grieve for them. Grief comes in many different forms and don’t let anyone tell you who you should and should be grieving at the end of the day there your feelings and emotions and no one else will ever know exactly how you feel. So here goes the post about someone that impacted my life for only a short amount of time but I have never really spoken about.

Meet Duncan my mum’s boyfriend at the time of her death. They met at the golf club my mum worked at, this was the first person she properly dated after splitting from my dad (That me and my sister got introduced to anyway haha). I don’t know if she was worried or nervous to tell me and my sister, she had met someone but she would be smiling at her phone all bloody evening so we knew there was somebody. Eventually we got to meet him, went for dinner in Banstead high street Pizza Express and all was well. We got to know him a lot better over the course of a year or so and honestly, I adored the man. Our birthdays were a day apart so may have been the Aquarius traits but yeah, we just really got along. We even asked Duncan to sit front row with us at my mum’s funeral, which at the time was a massive deal for me and my sister, this was going to be the hardest thing we have ever had to do.

Anyway, this is probably the toughest post for me to write because things weren’t so smooth sailing after my mum died. Duncan had been battling cancer most of his adult life and fell very ill once again. Me and my sister would visit him in hospital and seeing someone dying of cancer is pretty tough he had lost so much weight and week by week looked like a different person but he kept fighting. He had met someone else who we once met on a hospital visit but we were told it was just a friend (No hard feelings my mum was dead he had to move on). This is when the story changes. One day I was sitting on my bed and received a text from this woman basically saying Duncan wasn’t the person I thought he was, I was 16/17 at the time and the words that were sent was just something I feel you don’t send a person of that age. So, I took the phone to my auntie and she dealt with it from that point forward.

I was devastated by this text and just sat and cried. I remember my auntie asking me why I was so upset and my only reply was ‘because I don’t want it to be true’. Anyway, my auntie dealt with the situation and we never saw Duncan again. At the time I was fine by this decision and new it was best for me and my sister. It wasn’t until we got that message to say he had finally lost his battle with cancer. It had been about a year since id seen him but my god it hurt. I think at that age I didn’t want to no anything from that text I received, I was already hurt so what was the point in asking questions.

Anyway, we were sent the funeral details but both my sister and I decided it wasn’t the right idea to go. Was this the correct thing to do? At the time yes, I thought it was but years on I still feel there is no closure. Not even 3 years after losing my mum and I was grieving for yet another person.

Do I regret not asking questions? Do I regret not seeing him again? Yes & No, at that age it would of done me more harm than good but on the other hand now im older i still think about it and have and will never have closure. I chose to remember Duncan for the Duncan that I knew and loved and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

I am sharing this storey for anyone that may have lost someone they no longer saw or spoke to, maybe an old school friend you drifted from or a parent that you never knew, a family member you argued with a few weeks before they passed. For anyone that questions that they should have done more to make things right before it was to late. Guilt is one of the biggest emotions when it comes to grief, you can feel guilty for not making up after a drama or reaching out after your lives went in different directions, unfortunately nothing can bring them back so don’t beat yourself up about it.

Since facing my grief and the feelings than come with it, it really makes you appreciate life and realise how bloody short it is. So, do what makes you happy with people that make you happy. If you feel like your going to bed tonight thinking ‘I should really reach out to this person’ then do it you never know when your last opportunity to do so could be.

Greif is difficult to deal with whatever the situation, you will always remember them however long they were in your life. Please remember my DM’s are open if you ever want to talk about your grief or if your supporting a grieving person.

Lots of Love

The Girl with Grief

Do you really like change or have you just been running away from your feelings?

Lock down made the world slow down and over the past month life has been getting back to normal. I’ve been busy every weekend, back in the office 4 days a week and back to the gym in the evenings, lock down life gave me time to think and process a lot of feelings I feel I had put to the back of my mind over the years and I feel like I was falling back into the trap of the busy life again. Learning from this I am now scheduling in my diary ‘Me’ time. I always say you should be selfish and spend time just in your own company doing what you want to do, so now I will be practising what I preach haha. So, this blog post is basically a question to myself to get some clarity of my own thoughts, I’m sure people will resonate so here goes;

I am someone that loves change, I love to meet new people in new places experiencing new things. However, its recently crossed my mind do I really love change or do I just like the feeling of people not knowing anything about me that they can judge me on. Do I really love change or have I been running away from my feelings? Meeting new people in new places means no judgement, no pity, just knowing you for who you are at the certain time in your life. For me this all started when my mum passed away, so some may say I’ve just been running away from my problems and this is what I have been working on over the last few months with the help of lock down.

So, let’s take it back 10 years, Mum passes away when I was only 15 and in my final few weeks of year 10. Mum was very known with all my friends and even some of the teachers at school. Shortly after mum died, I decided to go back to school and people were so different, teachers included. Yes, I understand it’s so difficult to know how to act around someone grieving but at 15 I didn’t understand this and kind of just got angry at the fact everyone was treating me differently. In my head I hadn’t changed so it just didn’t sit well with me. Girls who hated me (No hard feelings now just high school drama) was now being super nice to me, teachers all treading on egg shells around me in case I broke down in tears or had ‘a moment’. It’s kind of felt like I could get away with anything in my final year at school because everyone felt sorry for me that my mum had died.

Back then I was in that mindset of being strong and not wanting sympathy of anything to change. My home/family life had just been thrown upside down I just wanted every other part of my life to stay as normal as possible, to be kind of an escape but was this just me not wanting to except the feelings of grief. Rather than accepting that I wasn’t going to be treated the same anymore, I focused on working towards my first big change.

Change number one; Move school for a different sixth form.

I decided that I just needed a fresh start at a new school so I moved to Hayes sixth form. It was about a year after mu mum had passed, in a different area, with only a handful of people I knew. It was a fresh start where no one knew me or that I was the girl that lost her mum and tbh was the best decision I made. Going to a school and having to make new friends was exciting to me and took my mind off grief, sixth form kept me busy and pretty focused. Eventually once I had made friends and settled in of course they then found out that my mum had died but because they never new her or my family I was never judged, they didn’t no me before my mum had died so they couldn’t compare if I was different or not. Sixth form was a very fun 2 years of my life and I may not be super close with people I met there, they are all great people and we had some pretty fun party’s and trips to McDonalds (that year when everyone starts driving and bunks class to drive to McDonalds, yeah, we was them cool kids). Completed the A levels and then it was time to think about my next change.

Change number two; Move half way across the country to university in Bristol.

University is something I really wanted, once again I was excited bout moving somewhere where I new no one (Some people might think I’m super weird but it’s just something that excites me). There is a whole post coming on how grief affected my uni experience so I’ll save the details for that. Anyway, after a foundation degree, BSc Hons degree and a placement year it was time for change number three.

Change number three; Flying half way across the world on a one-way ticket. Firstly, anyone that has ever thought about travelling, please book that one-way ticket and go (Once Covid allows this again) because honestly, it’s the best thing that you will ever do! You learn so much about yourself, make the most incredible memories and meet some bloody amazing people. I recommend going Solo to because honestly you really get to know yourself and be selfish and just do what you want when you want with who you want.

Anyway, I could talk about travelling for a very long time but let’s not get distracted from the point of this post. It’s a question to myself. Do you really love change or have you just been running away from your grief?

Truthfully, I still can’t answer this question and this is why I started the Girl with Grief, to take you all on this journey of figuring out my thoughts and feelings so people can relate. Lock down gave me time to think maybe a little too much over thinking but I took the positives from it and I’m enjoying the process of the Girl with Grief and I’m excited to see where it goes. Lock down has a its positives but it also had its negatives Covid ruined my next big change, change number 4; my move to Aus.

I have always been a believer in everything happens for a reason, we are meant to learn from everything that is thrown in our way in life and I do feel its meant to happen to make us who we are today. Due to Covid my plans to move to Aus. fell through due to the boarders closing for the foreseeable future. My plans were thrown off and I was gutted, I am gutted but I also think it’s a blessing in disguise. Lock down has given me time to really understand me and where I was and want to be physically and mentally. Anyone that knows me personally will have seen my weight loss journey over social media and in person over the last 5 months but its not just my body I have been working on it my mind to. I started the girl with grief not only to help others but for my own kind of therapy, writing down and sharing my thoughts and feelings really helps me clear my mind.

Grief is a journey and I feel like its only now 10 years on I’m truly dealing with the feelings I’ve felt over the last decade. So, whether I have been subconsciously running away from these feelings I’m proud to say I’m now facing them head on and actually enjoying the process. So, to anyone on a journey with grief or simply just a journey with themselves, embrace all the emotions your feeling. Read books, write journals, start a blog, talk to friends and family or contact me through Instagram.

You are never alone so keep going, you got this. If you feel like your running away from your feelings, lets face them together. Concentrate on you, be selfish. Its amazing the change you can make to your physical and mental health in just a short space of 6 months.

You got this, stay strong and reach out if your struggling.

Lots of love The Girl with Grief xx

My Answers to ‘The Grief Gang’ Podcast

So, for those that haven’t seen my Instagram post, Amber Jeffery’s podcast ‘The Grief Gang’ was what inspired me to start this blog. It was the beginning of lock-down I was working from home and on the hunt for something new to listen to when i came across such a powerful podcast. Listening to how open she was about her story and her message to others really touched me and made me think, grief is not spoken about enough so if I can be another person to start talking, then the less of an awkward subject it will become.

So, Amber invites people onto her podcast and asks them 3 main questions about their loss, so I thought I would share my answers here:

Tell me about your life before your grief?

My life before losing my mum. I was a 15-year-old in my final few weeks of year 10 at school was always a happy person surrounded by lots of friends, very social able and outgoing. Growing up I was always very close with my mum, told her everything, all my friends knew and loved her. At the age of 12 my mum and dad split up and me and my sister always lived with my mum, saw both but lived with mum. 3 months if that prior to mum’s death we had just moved into our new house, mum and her boyfriend spent week decorating, I was super happy because they let me have the lime green bedroom wall I always wanted (don’t ask haha). Yeah so life was really pretty good and normal for a 15-year-old.

What’s your story?

Head to ‘My Story’ tab to read this I won’t bore anyone again by repeating myself 🙂

How has my grief changed me as a person today?

Well I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and I no that may sound weird like ‘mum was meant to die’ I don’t mean it like but this grief has made me who I am today. I was a very outspoken bitchy teenager if I’m honest but losing my mum really made me realise how short life is. Like you do not know what’s around the corner and kind of mellowed me. It also made me mature quickly (well I like to think so my family may disagree haha) It made me strong. For the first few years I like to say I dealt with it surprisingly well but looking back now I bottled a hell of a lot up because I just simply didn’t no what to do with them emotions. I had the mentality of ‘I have to be strong for my sister and auntie and cousins, I didn’t want to make it any harder for them’ at the end of the day their life changed just as much as mine that day.

Fast forward a few years and I’m off to Uni, I moved to Bristol where I didn’t know anyone, this excited me because no one knew me and the girl whose mum died. It was in my second year I feel like I really truly began to grieve, I’m not sure weather this was being away from family, stress of uni work or what but it was around November December time and I would just find myself crying all the time, I ended up talking to the boy I was seeing (if you wonna call it that) at the time, who was also not in a great place his suffered panic attacks. We both kind of grew closer by talking and crying. Anyway, it reached the point where It was affecting my Uni work so I reached out to the uni counsellor, wrote many emails and had phone calls because I was to scared to go in person, this went on for about 2 months and then I just stopped I thought I was better I thought that’s its I’ve grieved now time to move on and was pretty happy again. That concludes the help I ever got with dealing with grief.

But it carried on changing me as I got older, I was very concentrated on getting a degree, going traveling doing things that made me happy, proud and that mum would be proud off.

Anxiety lets talk about that, so 4 years ago my sister blessed us with my beautiful niece Lily. I think this is where my anxiety began, whenever I would feed lily, I was scared she was going to choke and die, if she was asleep, I would constantly check on her to see if she was still breathing. Was all very weird but then it started happening more, like if I was driving on the motor way, I was constantly worried I would crash my car and die. If my sister didn’t answer her phone, I would assume something bad had happened to her. Like honestly, I can’t really explain it but whenever something happened or someone got ill, I feared for the worst and I can only guess this is from losing my mum, I was constantly anxious I would lose someone else in my family and it started to get a lot, I didn’t want this to take over my life, I was normally a very chilled person. Anyway, over the last year and half this has calmed down a lot however I do think my grief will always give me slight anxiety.

Overall, I think it has taught me a lot and the things I have learnt from it I feel have made me a more appreciative person.

If your reading this and haven’t listened to ‘The Grief Gang’ Podcast by Amber Jeffery please take a listen, if not just aimed at people who have lost but friends and family that surround them and Amber all I can say is thank you, if it wasn’t for hearing your story, I wouldn’t have shared mine.

Lots of Love

The Girl with Grief x

3 Best Friends, 3 Different Stories, 3 Grieving Girls

Meet my best friends Kate & April

We have been friends since we were like 13 (God that makes me feel old). We our 3 of a very supportive girl group and all 3 have lost a parent. Yes all 3 from the same friendship group which i feel is very rare when were only 25. Some may say were unlucky but when it comes to anniversary’s or just that bad day, I’m lucky because I know these girls are always on the other end of the phone and I won’t even need to explain because they just understand.

So on my journey to get grief spoken about more openly they agreed to share there story. I asked the girls if they would answer a few questions with the aim of getting one step closer to making grief a less awkward subject.

April shares her story:

Who have you lost? My dad

How old was you when you lost them? 21

Tell me about the moment you found out and the feelings that come with it?

I was on a girl’s holiday, we had just finished 2 weeks in Thailand and flown to Singapore for our final few days. This point was a lot clearer for me to explain emotions as it was the best holiday I had ever had up to that point. We landed in Singapore and went straight out for drinks without connecting to wifi or having any phone signal. That night in Singapore was like a scene out of the film bridesmaids, we went a bit wild and ended up in some exclusive club partying in VIP living our best lives. We got in at about 5am Singapore time and at this point I remember how happy and good I felt and was joking around with Kate & Annie in the hotel room. Then I connected to Wifi and within seconds I had a facetime call come in from my sister which was strange. I was obviously drunk so a bit oblivious to the seriousness on her face and was actually told by Kate “Ape, somethings up, Sommer are you okay?”. Obviously in that moment I just remember my heart sank I think I had already started crying before knowing what had happened. She kind of just blurted out “Dads dead” and from that moment it was a blur, my memory is a bit hasty because the shock took over. I sobered up instantly. The only way I can describe it is like an outer body experience like the whole world had frozen. When I was on the call, I think all that came out my mouth was oh my god are you ok? Is mum ok? Is Dan ok? And I think I repeated that over and over and over. I don’t remember finishing the call but the next moment I remember was being in the hallway of the hotel on the floor screaming crying – it’s a different kind of cry and felt like physical hurt. After this point I remember nothing except the fact I was on total auto-pilot. I couldn’t feel anything, I couldn’t sleep I was just in a moment of stillness. The next few days you’d think it would go slowly but it felt like I had blinked and suddenly I was at the airport meeting my family. It was honestly like going from being on top of the world at complete peace and seeing it come crashing down in front of your eyes and you being rock bottom in a millisecond.

How do you think losing a parent has changed you as a person?

This is a hard one to answer as the first 2 years for me I was still on auto-pilot. I was just living without thinking about anything, feeling anything – total numbness so I don’t think I have the best self-awareness of this time and whether the change was gradual or instant. Now looking back, I think before losing a parent I was probably more fun and outgoing and more opinionated. Now I’m much more of an introvert and only feel comfortable spending time with family and really close friends. The best change in me – I’d say Losing a parent gave me insane drive to be better and change my life to be good. I became obsessed with making life happen – I went straight back to uni and completely brainwashed myself into getting a first. My coping mechanism was definitely belief that for all the bad and hurt you felt from life so far, I will equally have the exact strength of emotion but on the flip side so I always knew it will get better and all the hurt will be worth it. I’d say it’s made me more driven to be better. Other than that, I’d say I’m the same – just wiser!

Your happiest memory of them?

I was about 8 and he had been away for a while. He came into my room when I was sleeping it must have been about 6am and he told me to come downstairs. I remember him being so loud and full of energy the kind of thing you would not want piercing your ears at that time lol. When I got downstairs, he told me to open his gym bag. Anyway, I did and out pops this black Neapolitan mastiff puppy’s head! I think this is my happiest memory as he was such an extreme person and it doesn’t get more extra than that. 

How did they die?

Cause of death was unknown. I guess we will never know but he lived life on the edge from about 15 years old until he died at 45. Partying went from being harmless to taking over his life and in the end, I guess it all caught up with him. 

Kate share her story:

Who have I lost?  I’m one of 4 siblings and over 20 years ago we lost our dear Dad to leukaemia. 

How old was I when I lost him? 5 years old. 

Tell me the moment you found out and the feelings that come from it? 

I suppose one of the benefits of being so young is that I don’t remember. I do struggle to remember my childhood and I do wonder sometimes if I’ve subconsciously created a mental block. One day id definitely like to explore it in more depth with the right support. 

How do you think losing a parent has changed you as a person? 

Losing someone you love makes you realise how short and precious life can be and how important is to make the most out of it. 

One thing I have always believed while growing up and still do believe is that even though I physically can’t see, touch or hear my Dad I have always felt his presence and it offers me great comfort and trust knowing he’s guiding me through life. He is my personal guardian Angel and I’m lucky to have him watch over me. 

Happiest memory with them? 

I have always felt a little jealous of my older siblings sharing fond memories with our dear Dad. Sophie and I (my twin sister) being so young the only memories I vaguely have are being at the hospital. Whenever I smell the anti-bacterial hand sanitizers, they have in hospitals it always takes me back to those days. Although I am very grateful for all the precious photos, videos and memories loved ones have shared. 

April & Kate, honestly from the bottom of my heart thank you for getting involved in this little project of mine, it’s a big ask to let me write about such a personal experience all over the internet but I’m glad you can be part of this movement. Together we can make Grief a more open and less awkward subject xx

Welcome!

Hey. Hi. Hello.

I’m Emma, and this is my little lock down project I hope you enjoy.

The girl with grief is a platform for me to share my story, experience and feelings when living with grief. I want to be able to help others that have been through the loss of a loved one and allow them to be able to talk about their emotions openly and not struggle alone. On this site, you’ll find my story, what grief has taught me and some very personal posts.

I have thought about starting this blog for a while because throughout my teens I have wrote notes on my phone getting all my emotions out and then deleting them once I felt better, writing emails to Uni councillors and never sending them, a constant battle of feeling ok one day and so down the next with nothing to turn to. Until I came across ‘The Grief Gang’ Podcast by Amber Jeffrey, this really hit me deep and inspired me to share my experience.

So please take a read through my posts and I hope you can take something away from this while smiling at the memory of your loss. Together we make grief a less awkward subject to talk about.

What I learned from losing a parent at a young age.

So, I actually wrote this blog post over a year ago on my old travel blog, another year on and I still feel all these things are important with the added extra of really learning to talk about grief. Please take a read and let me know what you’ve learnt from losing someone you love x

The 9-year anniversary of losing my mum is soon approaching, people who know me or knew my mum are probably reading this and thinking wow where has this time gone, it only seems like yesterday. l learned and matured so much when losing my mum at the age of 15. July 2010 the sun was shining as we started our day, eating breakfast while waiting for mum to drop us to school, this was the moment our lives got turned upside down. To say we were shocked would be putting it lightly, something so sudden and unexpected makes things that little more difficult to come to terms with.

I will remember the day that changed mine and my family’s life’s forever, however rather than dwelling on what happened I would like to share a few things I have learned from processing the death of a parent for anyone else that has been or is currently experiencing what I did.

Grief is complicated

Everyone will at some stage of their life have to face the loss of a parent; I just had to face this a lot earlier than most. My mum passed due to a sudden cardiac arrest, however, we later found out she had rare cancer that affects the heart. Grief is complicated and affects everyone is so many different ways. So, if you are grieving in different ways to family members don’t be concerned it affects us all differently.

At the beginning it can all be very overwhelming, you may stay in denial and anger phases for a while as you don’t want to accept and process the grief. I know in the first few weeks I would be fine and strong the next and then be in floods of tears the next. It’s all a bit of a blur until the funeral is over, this is when the true realisation hit me. Grief can be hard to explain, the emotion is overwhelming, numbing and just a little strange if I’m honest.

I am still grieving 9 years on, every anniversary, birthday or Mother’s Day are just as hard each year and these events never get easier but now I have learned to use these days to celebrate my mum just like everyone else does on Mother’s Day.

It never gets better you just learn how to move forward and deal with what’s happened

Your emotions will be all over the place in the first few weeks even months, every emotion you feel is ok to be feeling and don’t feel you need to explain them. Your processing and dealing with a death that will change you forever, don’t feel guilty for being sad.

I remember feeling ok one minute, angry or sad the next. I would say for the first year waves of emotions would hit, sadness, pain, anger all at unexpected moments. You will have good days where you finally feel happy again then the next you won’t want to even get out of bed, this is all normal.

Grieving never gets easier and you will be grieving for the rest of your lives, however, learning to cope and move forward from this does get better. I have gone on to do so much with my life, my sister has had a baby, we have both moved to new places and I know my mum would be prouder than ever of us both. So, if you’re currently suffering the loss of a parent and feeling like you’re never going to be able to move on from this sadness, remember them for the good times and how much they would want you to enjoy life. After all, you now know how short life can be, so make the most of it and make them proud.

It’s ok to have a down day

Being sad and having a down day is ok. If you want to stay in bed and not talk to anyone every once in a while, this is ok. Crying is healthy and helps you heal.

Your friends are there to support you don’t push them away

Grief can change you and make divides between you and others, however, true friends will support you and stick by you in your lowest days. Friends will understand that your emotions are all over the place in the first few months and just be there for a shoulder to cry on. I am forever grateful for the friends I had around me on that day, that came straight to my side once I was home from the hospital to the friends that attended the funeral and got drunk with me at the wake, to the friends that are still supporting me every Mother’s Day, birthday and anniversary that goes by.

You’re going to need your friends more than ever at this time and I know you will be hurting but don’t turn your anger and hurt towards them, if you need space just tell them if you need more support tell them. However, some people are awkward and aren’t sure how to approach you in your time of need. If this is the case from friends and family, let them know you need them, talk to them, if your putting on a brave face they may just assume you don’t want to talk about it.

I’m glad it’s becoming more normal to talk about how your feeling, there’s nothing worse than bottling your emotions up, if you feel you can’t talk to your friends and family remember there’s many charity’s out there supporting young adults that are grieving.

Grief can cause mental strain

Grief can come in many types of ways, but the strain it can put on you as a teen is tough. A few years on after my mum died I started to get anxious about the most stupid things, if a family member wasn’t answering their phone I would think something had happened to them, when my niece was a baby I wouldn’t be able to watch her eat as I was super paranoid she would choke. I still get these feelings once in a while but nowhere near as frequent as they used to be. It makes sense really losing someone so close to you hurts and you’re scared to lose anyone else, I’m lucky I have friends and family to talk to when I’m feeling anxious.

Don’t feel bad if you feel you can’t talk about this experience, death is never the easiest topic of conversation

In the first year I put on a bit of a hard front, I was always fine and making sure everyone else was ok. I didn’t find it easy to talk about her or her death at all but as time went on talking about my mum became so much easier, it actually makes me smile talking about her because she was the best and so many people have great memories of her. Everyone struggles in their own way so don’t feel bad if you feel you can’t talk, it does get easier.

You get to choose how and when you move forward

I am extremely lucky to have my friends and family’s constant support. Especially my auntie, even though she was dealing with the loss of her sister, her main priority was me, my sister and cousins. Having this support made it easier for me to come to terms with losing someone so close at such a young age.

Everyone grieves in different ways and don’t be ashamed of your down days, if your struggling, talk. Remember your parents will always be proud of you and want you to be happy whether they are dead or alive. So, carry on making them proud and smile at the memory’s you made together.

When I got back from traveling I promised myself I would do a bit more for charity, so on the 30th June, me and my housemate who also lost her mum will be running the Race for Life Bristol 5k.

Both of us will be running in memory of our mums so any donations will be greatly appreciated. Please donate by following the link below:

https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/emmas-race-for-life-327467514