As you will be aware from my previous posts and videos, this year I lost both of my maternal grandparents. My grandfather past away on the 30th September, and my grandmother was reunited with her husband of over 60 years on the 14th October – just two weeks after. I lived with my grandparents for most of my childhood and teenage years, and both of them were more like parents to me, as they supported both myself and my mother who has cerebral palsy. There are no words to describe how much love and respect I have for both of them, thus why I took such an active role in caring for them both, especially in the last few years. Therefore, even though I was left devastated by their passings, I feel content knowing they were never completely alone and knew they always had someone to rely on.
Unfortunately, many elderly people can go days, weeks or even months without even having a conversation with someone. That is why on the 31st December I will be shaving my head to raise money for Age UK. Read on to find out more about why I want to donate to this amazing charity, watch me discuss the big event and find out how you can support me.
It feels like such a relief to finally share this big news with you all! I’ve been holding this secret in since summer…
When my grandmother was first diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer in August, the first thing she asked was whether she would lose her hair. I found this baffling. My grandmother (or Nanny as I called her) was always the rock of the family; she would be the one to organise everything, fix anything and give you a stern word if you yourself needed to fix up! She did this selflessly for decades; for my mother and uncles as well as myself as I grew up. Therefore to hear the most practical woman I know saying that her one fear was to lose her hair was devastating, as while we all had to deal with horrific prospect of losing such a beautiful soul, her fears were focused on something so trivial.
Explaining to my grandmother that she wouldn’t lose her hair was cruelly bittersweet. On the one hand, this proud strong woman would keep her beautiful snow white curls, but on the other, it meant discussing the fact her cancer was too far gone for treatment, and that the chemotherapy that would often cause hair loss would not be offered to her.
At that point I knew that I wanted to shave my hair for her. We were originally told that she would have up to a year to live, so my intention was to shave my hair to surprise her over Christmas, to show her that hair doesn’t really matter and that it was her we loved more than anything. Unfortunately we did not reach that last milestone together.
Watching my grandmother deteriorate over the next few months was unbearable, but no one was worse hit by this than my Grampy (grandfather). My grandparents lived together as man and wife for over 60 years, and were truly inseparable. They were made for each other: my grandfather being the hilarious handy man of the family, and my grandmother the more serious intellectual one.
As is common within couples that have shared their life together, my grandfather began to deteriorate himself as soon as we heard the news, and sadly passed of a heart attack just over a month after her diagnosis. Similarly, Nanny’s health plummeted as soon as Grampy passed away, and she joined him again just two weeks after.
Losing them both so soon after each other was heartbreaking for both myself and my family, but at the same time it is comforting to not only know that they are together again, but also to know that they were never lonely, as they always had each other as well as us. Unfortunately many elderly people in the UK do not have close friends and family around them to support them in their later years, and face crippling loneliness on a daily basis.
How Age UK helps
Age UK is an amazing charity that supports elderly people in the UK by helping them to escape loneliness as well as offering financial and health support. Please watch the videos above and below to see how simple efforts made by Age UK volunteers are helping elderly people around the country.
How can you support?
On New Years Eve, the amazing Justin (@justscuts) will be shaving my hair to raise money for this amazing charity. I am also in the process of organising my hair to be donated so that someone else going through cancer – just like my grandmother did – can feel beautiful again with a full head of hair! To support me, please share my journey across your social media platforms and if at all possible please donate at https://www.justgiving.com/thelondoncurls . Any donation, no matter how small will be much appreciated, and will help elderly people in the UK and worldwide.
Finally, please, if you have anyone in your family who will be lonely this Christmas, let them know that they are in your thoughts. You will never truly understand how much a 5 minute telephone conversation can change someone’s day, so please share the love this December and throughout 2016.
With love from London,