HAVING TO COPE WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE CRUMBLING
I don’t know what this post is. I really don’t. It was going to be a “what grief feels like” type post, and then it was going to be a “holy fuck it’s been pretty tough being a full time blogger and grieving” – more on this later – type post and then (because I write all posts in my head first, most likely sat on a train, or if I’m being totally honest, on the bog #classy before tapping away on here) it kinda just turned into a virtual outcry of how totally horrendous the last 2 weeks have been with a bit of the former two options thrown in for good measure.
Basically, this post is for me. It’s my own form of therapy and you’re kinda just unlucky enough to read it.
For those who don’t follow me on social media, I’m gonna run through the story real quick because it’s not something I want to dwell on. In fact, it’s not something that I ever really want to think about ever again but oh hey, thanks brain for replaying every second over and over in my head.
A couple of weeks back – here or there – I headed to Rayleigh to shoot a campaign with Hannah, we laughed, we ate strawberries and brie and houmous and so many effing tortilla chips I genuinely think I gained a good half a stone in one sitting. I have no regrets. Oh, and then we got locked in a park because lol, of course you lock all the gates 2 hours before closing time. Basically we had a lot of fun, got some content I’m really proud of and I headed home to continue work and bitch about the 39474834 emails I had to reply to. But when I got out of the train station, I received a phone call from my Mum saying that my Grandad had had a stroke. To cut what could be quite a long story short, I went to see him, I stayed in his room for all of 2minutes and then ran out hysterically crying because at that moment, I knew that that wasn’t my Grandad lying there, unable to communicate, thrashing around and ultimately looking so frustrated and scared… I ran. I fucking ran.
But here’s the thing, despite the fact that it was pretty obvious that things were bad, there was a naive, slightly nonchalant part of me that still thought “you know what, he’s survived a stroke once, he’s a fighter, he’ll be fine”. He wasn’t fine. My Mum woke me and my brother up at 6am the following morning and told me words that I couldn’t possibly tell you because the whole thing was a blur. Those words basically said that my Grandad had had a bleed and there was no hope – for want of a better phrase.
I’ve been through some pain in my time but never in my life have I experienced pain like the moment you realise someone so special to you has effectively gone. Or will be gone. Imminently.
I could tell you about all the next few days but to be honest, it’s all a bit too raw. In short, I sat by his bed for the next 3days with my parents, brother, Nan etc, sleeping on the floor/in a chair/I even tried the windowsill at one point, and watched a man that I love so dearly slip away. I cried – well, hysterically sobbed until my face literally turned purple and people genuinely stared because my eyelids had swollen to 3 times their usual size – I spoke to him constantly (soz Grandad, a drippy, soggy mess of a Granddaughter telling you how much she loved you probably wasn’t the rest that you needed) and held him. I held him until he took his final breath, and then watched him go.
And I think, without sounding Kim Kardashian melodramatic, that that moment changed me. It really did change me as a person. Watching someone die before your eyes is the most heartbreakingly devastating, most traumatic thing that you could imagine, but it also gives you a sense of perspective like no other. That, ironically despite the fact the my Grandad lived to the amazing age of 90, life can actually be very short. That you should take chances, do whatever you want to do – I mean, within reason, don’t go killing your boyfriend’s psycho ex-girlfriend or anything – be whoever you want to be, and just live your life unapologetically. Be your best you and never ever settle for anything less than you deserve.
Now that I have the hard part over, I wanted to touch upon the blogging part during all of this and I really hope that I manage to do it in a way that’s informative, sensitive and without judgement or lack of gratitude for what I do but I always think these things are good to know. Whenever situations like these happen, lots of people naturally think “it’s so lucky that you work for yourself because you can take time out” etc. etc. but here’s the thing that nobody tells you.
When you have a “normal” job – again, for want of a better phrase but in my emptiness/tear ridden state, “normal” is the best I can do – you call in sick, or tell your boss you can’t go in.. and you’re done. As a full time blogger, in my experience anyway, I had around 9 meetings/events that I immediately cancelled for the next few days because being by my Grandad’s bedside was the only place I wanted to be. And that wasn’t a problem, it really wasn’t, but the worrying, the having to run outside to get signal and hope that the PR’s read their emails in time to know that they wasn’t meeting me for breakfast the following morning, that was the problem.
The sponsored posts. I have been extremely lucky that I secured a lot of sponsored collaborations with some of my absolute favourite brands in June. I thought I’d hit the jackpot, I booked a holiday, I eyed up the Gucci Diyonus and then life came crashing down around me and all of a sudden, I was having to type up a post on the day that I heard the worst news I’ve ever had to hear. And two days after my Grandad passed, I had to write a post about happiness.
At a time, if I’m being totally honest with you, when I really didn’t care if I was alive or not, let alone happy.
But I had to write it because it was a collab with one of my friends and one of my favourite brands and I didn’t want to let them down. I had to reply to emails pestering me – not from the that brand might I add, they were absolutely fantastic – about random crap, ones that had absolutely no sympathy whatsoever. And one brand, that offered condolences for my loss and then proceeded to ask if I could promote their website 1 sentence later. Let me just tell you that I am not a violent person but if I saw that brand owner, I could quite easily have drop kicked her in the head.
I guess what I’m trying to say, is that despite being lucky enough to have the most awesome job in the entire universe, sometimes, just sometimes, it’s the worst job… because you can’t switch off – although in the end I did put on an out of office and went AWOL for a week – you can’t just not work, you do have to post that specific instagram at the specific time even though you’d already scheduled that time for your solo breakdown so that your family don’t have to see you crying again.
The blogging world goes on and when you’re a full time blogger, and it’s paid work that’s on the line, you kinda have to as well.
I’m going to wrap this up now because jesus christ this is the longest post I’ve ever written and that is coming from somebody who writes an essay for a simple outfit post. I guess I just want to end with a huge thank you, to all of you on Instagram, on twitter and on here for the loveliest messages. Nothing makes the horrendous grieving process better but it’s so unbelievably comforting to know that I’m lucky enough to have the support of a whole load of you. So thank you, for being by my side at a time when I had to cope, but felt like crumbling.
Oh, and live your best life. Never take it for granted. Because one day it could be over before you know it. Or one day you could be looking at your husband of 64 years, asking if you could go with them. Or you could be holding your Dads hand, the man that has always been such a strong figure in your life, until he goes. Or you could be a granddaughter. A granddaughter letting her Grandad know that he’s not alone, we’re all with him and that he’s been such a light in her life and such an example of what a real gentleman is.
So live your best life and tell the people you love that you love them.
Grandad, I know you’re not reading this because you never understood what I did as a job no matter how many times we explained it. But I love and miss you every second of every day.
[edit: reading this post back 5 days later instantly made me a) cry a river and b) have a pang of uncertainty to post as it’s so raw and so personal. But I want anyone in a similar situation to know that you’re not alone. It’s OK to be devastated and heartbroken and on the verge of a breakdown. You can do this, they’d have wanted you to do this.]