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coping with death

dealing with death
coping with greif

Talking about death and loss is a sensitive and often taboo subject. In my life I’ve experienced two great losses, the death of my best friend from cancer aged 18 and more recently my wonderful Grandad. Death is unfortunately something we face every single day, but often there is that detached feeling seeing something that isn’t happening to you. When it’s some your close to it’s often harder to comprehend. Grief isn’t simple.

As someone who’s currently dealing with loss and has in the past, I thought I’d share my personal experience with coping with two completely different deaths.

Joel was my best friend. We’d been friends since we were kids and had been pretty inseparable ever since. I found out he had cancer not long before I went to New Zealand in ’09 and within 6 months he was gone. He had stomach cancer, which spread and unfortunately he passed just before his 19th Birthday. I saw him the night before he died… All skin and bones. I kept telling myself I didn't want to go, before my friends physically made me go. It's not that I didn't want to see him, I did with all my heart. I just couldn't face the reality of seeing someone I loved so close to death. It was shocking to see someone who you shared your whole life with like that. I made myself never remember him like that though. He was the tallest person I knew and the most gentle and kind soul. I got up and spoke at his funeral, it was unplanned but I just felt like I had to. Like that was what he wanted me to do. Seeing my friends cry and sob their heart out at his funeral was one of the most distressing and heart warming things I’ve experienced. The boys in our friendship group were incredibly close and they were sobbing uncontrollably.

My Grandad on the other hand was an old soul. He was a traditional man who appreciated good manners, and his family and a fart joke. He’d been sick for a very long time. He had Altzimers and had recently gone into a care home. He forgot who we all were, and often he’d ask the us the same question over and over. It was frustrating and upsetting in equal measures. Once he asked my poor Granny “where’s my wife?”, she told me she just cried her eyes out. I can’t even imagine how heartbreaking it would be to lose a partner let alone someone you’d spent your whole life with. The idea of losing your mind is up there with the most upsetting things I can think of. My mum told me he wasn't able to eat earlier in the week and his time was going to come soon. In some ways maybe it was better knowing he was going to pass than it being so sudden. Needless to say it’s absolutely devastating, but I think we’re all in agreement he’s in a better place right now. But that doesn’t mean we all don’t wish he was here.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that at first with both deaths I felt nothing. Maybe it’s because I knew both were going to happen. Neither were sudden, and I avoided that punch to the stomach. Maybe it’s because a part of me wanted to believe it wasn’t going to happen. I found that I had no outward bursts of sadness, no tears. Just pure shock and desensitisation from what had happened. Like they hadn’t really gone... I hadn’t seen them for a bit. Although in my heart, I knew I was and still am deeply troubled by mortality and the loss of people around me - but on the outside I was 100% stone cold. Nothing. I felt like I wasn’t normal because I wasn’t experiencing the same grief as everyone else.

Grief is of course one of the most gut wrenching, confusing, and horrific human emotions. But everyone handles things differently. When Joel passed, I withdrew completely. I didn’t eat, I exercised constantly and did whatever I could to keep busy. I didn’t see my friends, argued constantly with my boyfriend and completely disconnected. I just wasn’t me. While I wasn’t crying or shaking my fists at the air hollering “WHYYY” - Deep down was battling with the concept of death. I think as humans we're all afraid to die, but I worry more about the people around me than myself. There were times when I was so upset and afraid I couldn’t deal with myself but never did I let this out. There were times when I felt soulless because I felt like I should be more unhappy than I was. Like I was guilty of not being sad enough.

The turning point for me with Joel was when I realised love never leaves you. You can love someone despite them not being there anymore. They didn't stop loving you, so it would be wrong to stop loving them. You may lose a part of your life, but it’s only going if you let it. I sought comfort in the fact because I still loved these people with all my heart they were still there with me somehow. Maybe not in the real world, but spiritually.

Grief is never easy. But a huge and the woeful learning curve, we will all have to deal with in our lives. As I say all the time with everything, it’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to scream and cry. It’s okay to be not okay. While nothing will ever be the same again you’re allowed to experience loss and grief in your own way. I think about Joel and my Grandad every single day, and while it does bring me sadness I remind myself of the good times and the love we’ve shared.

So this post is for them really, and for anyone who might be going through a loss in the family or with a friend. Remember how important these people were and still are in your life. If you're experiencing anything similar right now then my thoughts are with you and your families. No words make it better - trust me, I know - but there is something comforting in small words of condolence and sharing the memories with others.

x


66 comments

  1. such a moving post, crying on my keyboard. thank you for this lily, rip to joel and your grandpa <3

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  2. I think this was a beautiful post Lily. xx

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  3. Thank you for this post!!

    www.mandybajwa.blogspot.com

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  4. thank you for posting this lily.. i have had a lot of tragedy in my family for only being 16 and i've had the same feelings of being disconnected and not sad enough simply because i couldnt get over the shock. the past few years i've just been learning how to grieve and its so helpful when people like you share your story, thank you so much.

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  5. This honestly is one of the most beautifully written posts I have ever read. I love your honesty, and I can relate to most points due to losing my brother quite early on in my childhood. Thank you so much for this, it really was wonderful to read but a topic that shouldn't be taboo as it's part of life after all.

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  6. This is so sad but a beautiful post. I recently wrote a post on my blog about my cousin's addiction. Please come and read.http://lavieest-belle-blog.blogspot.co.uk/

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  7. What a beautiful post Lily - it must have taken you a lot of courage to write this post and I really admire you for that. My grandad also passed away recently from liver cancer - it was very sudden and I didn't expect it at all. I knew he wasn't well but I didn't even know it was cancer because of how suddenly it all happened and it hit me really hard as it is one of the first times I've lost someone really close to me. I'm sure Joel and your grandad are watching over you and are so proud - RIP X

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  8. This is such a moving post Lily actually made me cry as I can totally relate to this as I have recently lost 3 of my grandparents my two grandads and my nan this post made me realize that im not on my own in this and that all the feeling I was/am feeling are normal so I thank you for your courage for this post it really helps xx

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  9. Beautiful post lily! I reacted the same way when my brother and grandparents passed. I didn't even cry for months. And I felt like a fraud for it, even though it didn't mean that I didn't care - of course it didn't. I cried more when my cats died because it felt more 'real'. Because I saw them every single day and then I found them after they'd passed. With people it can be easier to just feel like we haven't seen them for a while. It's lovely what you said about love never leaving us. Definitely gives a feeling of peace and acceptance. I'm sorry for your losses, and thank you for sharing! X

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  10. I have been battling with the idea of doing a post on grief as I recently lost my dad very suddenly. I agree we all deal with it very differently, so I often found it was impossible to write. I think you've been incredibly honest here, and I'm so sorry for your loss. I don't think the pain ever really goes away, you just learn to cope with it.

    Thanks Lily :)

    xx

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  11. That post just sums up everything for me. I saw my granny the day before she died, it's an image that I try not to think about as it didn't seem like her at all. And I lost my nan last year, and I'd get myself so frustrated because I just couldn't cry for ages, and I'm such an emotional person. I didn't properly cry until I saw her coffin and it all came out. But thank-you for this post, as I'm still grieving, and learning that it takes time.

    Thank-you xx

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  12. Thank you for writing this Lily - it helped me a lot to read it. I lost my grandma last week, quite suddenly, to a very severe stroke that the doctors couldn't do anything about. I live(d) with her, so it hits a lot harder, but then I don't have the regrets of not visiting enough. I have a funeral to go to in a few days and I'm not sure how I'm going to feel - haven't felt like myself at all since. Doesn't help that family are all arguing about money, and the possibility of being homeless because of others trying to be greedy.

    Anyone else going through a similar thing - it is hard but you will cope. And please hug your grandmas and tell them you love them.

    http://beckyalyssasbeautybox.wordpress.com

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  13. Thank you for posting this. I think this will help a lot of people and it's very brave of you to share your loss with the world.

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  14. What a beautifully written post. I too have and still feel the same way but I think sometimes you need reminding of the fact that you need to remember the good times and your love for them, not their last moments or a time you may have seen them when they weren't who you wish to remember for example I saw my cousin in the funeral directors, who died incredibly suddenly, but I force myself to remember her beaming infectious smile. Thank you for your beautiful honest words letting us know we are not alone in what we are feeling x

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  15. So beautifully written, I'm sorry to hear of your loss xx

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  16. I've read your blog for years (literally 3 years I think) and have never commented. I know that you might not read this but I really want to thank you for posting this. I've recently been diagnosed with cancer and am only 22 years old and it constantly worries me that I might pass away and how my friends and family would cope. I know that they'll live and they'll be ok but it's refreshing to get an honest insight into how grief can effect the people around me. I hope that you and your family are coping well and that you always remember the people that they were and how much you meant to them as well x

    https://theombrecloset.wordpress.com/

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  17. Beautiful post xx

    http://wiltedxfaded.blogspot.co.uk/

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  18. This is such a beautiful post Lily, it has made me cry! I'm sorry for your losses, death is such an awful and heartbreaking thing. It's true that love never leaves you.
    Ellie xx
    ELEANORMAES

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  19. i cant tell you how touching this post is lily..i have been going through grief too for almost two years now. i lost my best friend (my cousin) to cancer right before his 18th birthday. He had been battling it since he was 8 years old, but his death really shocked us all. throughout the years, he would always go through terrible times to where he wouldn't be able to eat or walk for weeks at a time, but he would push himself so hard to not let this terrible disease get to him. As soon as we thought he was a goner, he would come back better than ever. That's why when he passed, I was so shocked i had no emotions to feel, kind of like how you felt. you're so struck by the fact that the death actually happened you dont even know what to feel. Of course though when I had to fly to his funeral and service I cried until I couldn't cry anymore. That's all a blur really now, I can't remember much but hiding my face in many peoples' jackets. Ugh, death really is a terrible thing but ever since he died I've learned so many ways to cope with it. As I've gotten older I know that death is only a bad thing if you make it. I'm so glad you shared this story with us Lily, it really helped hearing someone else's point of view <3 so sorry for your losses xx

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  20. Keep strong Lily, I believe we all cope differently with death but it does get better and life goes on x

    Lucy Jane // A little bit of everything

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  21. This is such a beautiful post.. I lost one of my best friends and my grandad within years of each others so reading this I'm already tearing up. xxxx

    The Sunday Chapter

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  22. This is a beautiful post- so true about how people handle grief. internet hugs for you at this current moment in time, keep strong x

    http://champagnelifestyleteabudget.blogspot.co.uk/

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  23. This made me really emotional, death is a sad part of life, but definitely best to try to celebrate the memories then to dwell on the sadness. Harder said then done, but it's what most people would want you to do. Thanks so much for sharing such touching words

    www.builtlikeaboss.com

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  24. This must've been so difficult to write, so thank you for sharing your experience. Losing the people you love is one of the hardest parts of life, and the grief never truly leaves you. I'm so sorry about Joel and your Grandpa; both were, I'm sure, exceptional people. The losses we experience are excruciating, and although it's truly awful and heart breaking, they help to shape who we are. And like you have said, the ones we love never truly leave. I hope you and your family are okay. x

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  25. Thanks for sharing this! Blogging is not only about fashion but also about sharing real life stuff like this. Inspirational. http://www.thepaarblog.com/

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  26. I lost my friend in January to a brain tumor.Having never really watched somebody deteriorate in front of my eyes and especially a young person from my age group I was almost in denial it was happening.I kept positive and believed that she would overcome it.After 14 months of treatment she passed away.I got to see her the night before she died.I will always remember the girl who was full of life and made me laugh.I still feel she is with me,when a fun song comes on the radio or i go to places i went with her.That never goes away.
    I am sorry to hear about your friend and your granddad,sending you & your family love x

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  27. such a moving and lovely blog post lily, thanks for sharing these personal moments in your life :)

    Rachel x
    Style Soup

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  28. This is so beautiful! I'm so sorry for the loss and all that you have been through. It sounds like you have become really strong. Thank you so much for sharing. I can't imagine how hard this must have been. Lots of love xx Danielle

    www.getup-goblog.blogspot.com

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  29. Such a beautiful post! I recently lost a friend as well and it was very shocking and unexpected.

    https://www.marjorievie.blogspot.com

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  30. Thank you this post! i recently lost my aunt and my grandma in the space of a few months and the effect its had on me and my family is insane. You really spoke from the heart.

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  31. Such a beautiful and moving post - my Nanna passed away back in June, she'd been battling with Dementia for the past 5 years, I still have days where I cry and miss her but I try to think of all the good memories.

    So sorry for your losses, sending you and your family lots of love x

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  32. What a beautiful post! I am sorry for your loss. I am sure you will carry your grand-father in your heart.
    XX
    Miri
    http://currentlywearing.com

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  33. My Grandma was going down the slippery dementia slope before she died eight years ago. The weird thing was I only felt relief. Obviously I was sad, but the relief that she was finally safe and I didn't have to worry any more meant I'm so thankful she went when she did. sometimes I think I should feel guilty for feeling that way, but I don't and I hope she knows and understands why, wherever she is :)
    I'm sorry to hear about your Grandad and I hope your Grandma is okay and coping :/

    Ohhellojo.blogspot.com

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  34. Thank you for sharing and for the lovely words. Lost someone this week too.. just clicked on to see your post. So sorry for your loss. Big big love <3

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  35. This is a wonderfully written post, well done for being able to write it x

    RobynCaitlin.com

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  36. it's an inspiring and beautiful post dear. looking forward to reading some more of your blog in the future. xoxo, jaimie // www.jaimiefelix.blogspot.com

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  37. How strange that I saw this post today, as it's my granddad's funeral tomorrow :'(

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  38. Youve managed to put humans most confusing and heartfelt emotion into words! Grieving for someone is one of the hardest challenges in life, it makes us dig deep and explore ourselves in a different way. I am sorry to hear about your loss and I wish you all the best in this hard time! Keep the memories you have of your loved ones carefully, for they are precious.

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  39. Such a beautiful post, everyone deals with their grief in different ways and thank you so much for sharing this with us. x

    RosalieJayne

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  40. What a beautiful post! This is such an eye opener. Reading through it made me quite emotional because everything you said is so relatable. I lost my dad and my grandad in the space of 2 years and dealing with it was difficult, even to this day it remains hard but there is one thing you have to remember, and that's the precious memories and the love you had and always will have for them. Grief strikes you in a billion ways and no emotion, feeling or reaction is abnormal because everyone is different. I often felt soulless, numb, detached and disconnected too but it's all about learning to overcome it and being patient with time so you can lead your life again. In time it gets better but you never get over it, a part of them will always be with you and carried in your heart and mind and it only takes that one reminder to take you back to the realisation of how horrible death, and everything that comes with it, is.

    Thank you for writing such an honest, inspiring post. I hope you're okay! Bless your grandad, and your best friend xxx

    Bridie | Upon My Sleeve

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  41. I'm going through something quite similar myself and some of your feelings are quite similar to mine. Thanks for sharing this post :)

    Emma at www.collagemepretty.blogspot.co.uk

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  42. This is such a beautiful post. You're so brave for laying your heart out across the internet like this and so many people experiencing the same thing will be so grateful you have. I've experienced a strong loss at a very young age and your words here are so inspiring, I'm very sorry for your losses and commend you for coping with them so well. My own personal thoughts would be to not dwell on the past, anyone you lose wouldn't wish for you to do this, instead carry them through with you to the future. A person you love never leaves your heart, so moving on isn't forgetting; it's just simply bringing them forward with you too. Xx

    clarkecouture.blogspot.co.uk

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  43. I've never really had to deal with loss like this. I live a long way away from my family and when any kind of passing of aunties, or grandparents happened, I've always been told don't travel up, there's nothing you can do etc etc. So I've kinda always felt very distanced from these events and in some ways I guess they didn't seem as real to me. I don't know how I'd deal with real loss like this. I hope I'd remember, like you, just to try and keep loving them.
    Really lovely post Lily and I'm so sorry to hear about your grandad. x

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  44. Such a well said beautiful post, Lily! I almost cried my heart out. I just visited my grandparents today and my grandad too suffers from the same. I'm so glad he still remembers who I am. Reading this most made me realize how much we should cherish the people in our lives since we never know what will happen tomorrow ... Thanks for this.

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  45. This is such a moving post, it was very brave of you to share such a personal post but I'm so glad you have. Hope you're doing ok. X

    Bramble & Thorn

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  46. This post made me well up! Really well written and will help a lot of people.xxx

    Eilidh | www.maisymeow.com

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  47. Very we'll written! I too have recently lost my grandad who was a big influence in my life and I still don't think it's sunk in. When it did happen I didn't know how I was meant to react? I got angry with my family but then thought wait they are going through this too so I shouldn't, I then locked myself away thinking but that just made me more upset & angry that he wasn't here anymore but I did learn it's okay to smile because that was one of the things he always did. So when you think it's not okay to smile or laugh it's okay because they wouldn't want you to be sad! Just go with your emotions and just think what would they want you to be like. No one can tell you how to feel, it's your emotions.
    Your post will help many people Lily! I don't normally comment on post but just read them but this is something that is close to my heart so thank you. 🙏👏

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  48. made me cry, you're an inspiration lily stay strong xxx

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  49. Truely moving post Lily, it made me cry too. Rip for Joel and your grandpa <3
    I hope you know now you're not bad for not feeling anything. It's like you said; everybody is experiencing grief in it's own way. This is just your way, but that doesn't mean you love them less.

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  50. This post was beautiful, just absolutely beautiful.

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  51. I lost one of my best friends from when I lived in NI to suicide a few days ago and thats the first time I've experiecened losing a friend. The feelings were very confusing and I still keep feeling that its not real, I was hoping to see her again one day after moving away almost 7 years ago but knowing now I wont get the chance is awful. I think this post will help me a lot xx

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  52. This was so beautiful and moving, I lost a very close friend to cancer and wrote a post about my loss but couldn't bring myself to publish it. This has given me the courage to talk about my own experience, so thank you. I know no words could make it better, but my thoughts are with you and your family. You are an inspiration xxx

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  53. Thanks for sharing. I've went through 3 deaths in my whole life and.. I just didn't know what to think of it.

    www.angerawrs.co.uk

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  54. Beautifully written post Lily - I'm so sorry for your losses, and I hope you are able to stay strong :)
    Lauren x
    Britton Loves | Fashion Lifestyle + Photography - www.brittonloves.blogspot.co.uk

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  55. I absolutely love this post. I recently lost a sister and words cannot explain the loss! X

    Check out my blogpost/blog if you get a chance... http://themonkeyandthefrog.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/what-is-point.html

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  56. I'm really sorry for you Lily, I can totally relate to you, and feel your pain, I got two losses 2 years ago and I had a really hard time. Surround yourself with the ones who love your and support you :). And of course as a follower I support you as well. We know you're a strong, beautiful lady <3 xx

    http://t7cell.blogspot.fr/

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  57. Such a helpful post right now for me Lily, my Nan sadly passed away unexpectedly a few weeks ago and I don't really know how to deal with it. Grief is hard to explain, but I love the way you've written this post - sending my love to you and your family x

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  58. Nearly three years ago my beautiful, kind, caring Nan simply went to sleep & never woke up again.. It was a massive shock to all my family because as far as we knew she was in good health. Initially I didn't feel sad, I felt angry.. Angry at the world for carrying on as normal while I felt as though my whole world had stopped & come crashing down around me. Angry at people for laughing & being happy when I felt so heartbroken. One of the hardest things was hearing my mum crying in the shower nearly every day for weeks on end. Time was my healer.. As time went on I learnt to deal with the anger & upset, realized it wasn't anyone elses fault. I miss her every single day but take great comfort in remembering all the wonderful times we shared together. Just remember, grief is a complicated thing & there is no right or wrong way to grieve. We all deal with things differently.. And that's ok :)
    Thank you for the beautiful heartfelt post Lily. xox

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  59. this post really touched me, thanks Lily
    xx

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  60. A beautiful post I sadly can relate to way too much. I lost my beloved grandfather to cancer two years ago and the image of him so weak and helpless still haunts me.

    Two weeks ago my best friend since the 6th grade lost her mother to cancer, only 50 years old. She is struggling and she is like you. Feeling guilty for not being sad enough. I will show her this post and tell her she is not the only one. Everyone grieves in their own way.

    Rest in peace to Joel and your grandfather and to every single one who is not with us anymore.

    xx

    Tess
    www.simplybeingyoung.com

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