“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.”
― William Shakespeare, Macbeth
Rather than simply discussing hair and beauty products all the time, I often treat my blog and social media as a virtual memoir: a space where I can share my thoughts and feelings on issues in both my private life and current affairs. Due to this, many of you are already be aware of the pain I have faced this year; both physically (through breaking and spraining my ankles) to emotionally, climaxing in the devastation of losing a loved one. On Wednesday 30th September, I lost the closest man to me – my beloved Grampy. Due to this, I had taken a break from blogging and social media, however, having reflected over the last few days, I feel slowly amercing myself in blogging will ultimately help me on my journey to healing.
Anyone that knows me knows how utterly obsessed I am with my grandfather – even my teachers at school would often comment upon how most of my answers in lessons would start with ‘My Granddad says…’. I lived with my grandparents and my mother for most of my childhood, and as my mother has cerebral palsy, my grandfather went above and beyond even the role of a father for me as I grew up. He would be the one to take me everywhere: from school, to clubs, to hospital appointments… my Grampy was always there when I needed him. And more than anyone else I have ever met, he always managed to make me laugh and smile – something so many others will also remember about him!
In August of this year, my grandmother – or ‘Nanny’ as I call her – was diagnosed with terminal cancer. This rocked my family’s world to the core. Whereas my Grampy was always the cheeky joker, my Nanny has always been the organiser. Any date, any number, any name… my nan would know it. She could fix anything at all, almost making the fact that she can’t fix herself all the more unbearable. Grampy took this especially hard and put every last bit of energy into caring for Nanny, much to the detriment of his own health. Sleep was lost, meals were skipped and tablets were left untaken, and as much as I and my family pleaded with Grampy to seek extra help for when we couldn’t be there, he was adamant that this was his responsibility. After finally reaching the point where he was forced into hospital on Tuesday, I breathed a sigh of relief thinking he was now in safe hands and was thus able to relax. However, as painful and difficult as it has been for me to accept it, it was his time, and on Wednesday evening he suffered from a heart attack.
I was left broken. As awful as it sounds, I had come to terms with the idea of my Nanny being taken from us. The thought would tighten my chest and would take my breath away, but ultimately I felt prepared. Nothing had prepared me for this. In films, you often see mothers screaming and crying on the floor in agony when they lose a child. I did the exact same. I lost sight of the others around me in the ward, and wept louder and harder than I have ever wept in my life. To put it simply, he was my everything, and without him, I felt like I had nothing. But when my senses were finally restored, I realised I was not alone.
Rather, I will say that from that moment on, I felt surrounded by friends and family that weren’t willing to leave me at rock bottom. Never have I felt so much love or support from those around me. We often take people for granted, but in my hour of need, my eyes were truly opened to the amazing people I have in my life. I was physically dragged out of the ward, comforted and put to bed by my best friends that night. I had friends I hadn’t spoken to in months or even years reaching out and offering any support I needed once they heard the news. And even people I have never met before, who have followed my instagram or YouTube for months without comment sent me their heartfelt prayers. For that reason, I see all of you – whether we have met or are simply acquainted through a computer screen – as my friends, and I appreciate each and every one of you who has reached out to me through this time. Collectively, you have ALL given me the strength I didn’t know I had.
Coping with loss is difficult, and less than a week since the passing of Grampy, I am no expert. However, one thing I know to be true is the fact your grief is yours and yours alone. I understand that it is out of love that a few of my friends have told me to ‘take a break from social media’ but ultimately, what you do and don’t do after the passing of someone you love is your decision. As long as you are not being self destructive, feel free to do what you feel you need to do to feel better. If you feel the need to rant and rave all over social media, dive straight back into work or curl up in a ball and cry, do what you feel is right. I have battled with depression in the past, and I know that I am at my most self destructive and low when I choose to do absolutely nothing. I’m the sort of person that finds sleeping late on a weekend difficult – I constantly have to be multitasking and planning ahead to feel in control. At times, setting myself relentless targets has left me burnt out, but ultimately I need a structure to feel at peace (as crazy as that sounds).
The wounds are far from healed and the pain is still incredibly fresh, but I feel like I am slowly rebuilding my strength and faith (in myself mostly) each day that passes. Within 24 hours of him passing, I had stated across my social medias that I would be taking a break from blogging, and swiftly deleted all apps from my phone. Emails were sent, and most companies (not all, I will explain more later..) were very understanding in regards to the fact deadlines might be missed due to the loss I had faced. Taking time off work was an obvious move, as I was in no way emotionally stable enough to teach five sets of 30 emotional teenagers each day when I was an emotional wreck myself. To summarise, I took a massive ‘time out’ from life. But ultimately, removing myself completely isn’t sustainable, and on my road to healing, I need to slowly build myself up again.
That is why I am going to slowly ease myself into blogging again. My reasoning? Blogging is genuinely something that I love to do, and to keep myself busy by writing my feelings and sharing them is much more therapeutic for me personally than bottling things up inside. People have often confused my strong work ethic as a sign that I am OK – ‘she must be coping with what’s going on with her family if she’s able to make Youtube videos/blog posts/ tweet etc.’ In reality, the last few months have been the hardest I have ever faced, as trying to keep my grandparents healthy and safe has felt like trying to hold sand in my hands while helplessly watching it trickle through my fingers. In hindsight, I was wearing myself down by working full time, caring for my grandparents every night AND blogging like crazy, but my end goal was to get my blog and YouTube successful enough that I would be able to cut teaching down to part time in order to spend more time looking after my family. Sadly, that aim can no longer be a reality, so now I want to reconnect with my love of blogging without any added financial pressure.
So, it might be a while before I post daily pics on instagram or upload videos on a weekly basis, but I thank you in advance for your patience! Thanks again to all of your well wishes and prayers, and thank you to all of the companies and brands that have also shown understanding through this difficult time. Unfortunately, one company was particularly nasty throughout this period – Sinivalia to be exact – but I’m sure I will share that with you all when I am feeling stronger. Until then, it is all about the positivity! And to my amazing Grampy: I know I keep crying, and I can hear you telling me to stop. I will try hard every day to get stronger and make you proud of me. I will love you always.
With love from London,
R.I.P. Richard Donald Looker 1928-2015