The Sunday Series: Grief and vulnerability – The day that changed my life forever

Trigger warning: this blog post contains references of suicide

Have you ever noticed when something is on your mind, you seem to see subtle signs of it everywhere? Whether it’s someone talking about it, the news reporting on it, or you stumble across a book that catches your eye, it seems to crop up everywhere you go. Recently for me, that has been grief and vulnerability. For someone who isn’t afraid to share the highs and lows of life, this blog was one of the hardest to write and it’s taken a lot to press publish but this week I felt so strongly to share.

On the 1st of July 2016, I received a call that will forever be etched in my mind. My mum called asking where I was and if she could meet me at my house. I was at the gym at the time but stopped my treadmill and left straight away. I immediately called my best friend who was staying at my house that night and was already there. “Something is wrong,” I said in a panic. She reassured me that it would be ok and probably nothing. My mind settled for a moment by her reassurance. I know I can catastrophize situations so perhaps this was one of those times where my mind was playing tricks on me. I got home and sat at the window waiting. My mum only lived 15 minutes away but it felt like hours that I was waiting at the window. I was pacing up and down the living room, my best friend telling me it would be ok. I was doing my best to believe that was true. My Mum finally pulled into my drive with my uncle and at that moment I knew something was off. We all stood in my living room, and I asked her what was wrong. After what felt like the longest few seconds of my life my mum said something that would change my entire world in less than 10 words. ” Your dad is gone, he’s killed himself”.

A nightmare that you desperately want to wake up from. I still can’t comprehend it, so many questions, “no no no no no” is all I could respond with. How could he be gone? How is it that I’ll never speak to him again, never see him again? I still ask myself those questions 5 years on. Do you know what’s so hard for me about grief? It’s not just the death of that person it’s what dies in you when they go. A whole chapter of my life ended in less than a minute and I wasn’t prepared for it – I still grieve that now.

I spent a long time afterward in denial, not in denial that he was gone but denying myself the ability to feel the emotions that come with such a sudden death. I spent years on the outside looking like I was coping with the suicide of my dad, when in reality I’d never let myself face it. I kept busy and took my mind off it by throwing myself into self-improvement. But two years of suppressed emotions was going to come out at some point, right? And one day it did. I woke up and felt like the whole world had been taken from beneath my feet. I couldn’t stop crying, I couldn’t see the wood through the trees, and I also couldn’t understand why I felt this way.

I felt embarrassed to admit that after 2 and half years of seemingly being ok with what had happened, I’d found myself in a pit of depression. How was I not over my grief? And worst of all, I felt as though I couldn’t use my dad’s death almost 3 years later as an ‘excuse’ to explain why I felt on the verge of tears every single day. I finally spent 6 months in counselling and it helped immensely. But I wish I’d been more open about it.

That’s the thing about grief it can be so isolating. I still find myself struggling to talk about my dad’s death to others now. I’ll ask my myself “have I gone on about this too much? Am I bringing the tone down? Do I sound like I’m playing the victim? I’ll then compare what I’ve gone through to others and convince myself that others have it worse than me. However, I am trying to let myself accept that life is not a comparison of who has it worse when it comes to grief and loss. I’m allowed to admit that what I went through was a huge deal and was pretty f***ing bad. I heard a quote recently that resonated with me when it comes to owning my grief.

“The worst loss is always your own”

Accepting my grief has allowed me to process it too. It’s helped me find a way to live with it. It will always have a place in my life but it’s now tucked neatly away with all my other emotions. It still comes out sometimes, it’s just not weighing so heavily, suffocating me like it used to. Therapy has helped with that.

There’s an analogy on grief called the Ball & The Box that has also helped me.

Coping with Grief: The Ball & The Box | Grief, Complicated grief, Grief healing (

Imagine your life in a box, and the grief you feel is a ball in the box. Inside the box, there is also a pain button. When the grief is at its peak the ball fills the box and is hitting that pain button constantly. As time passes the ball gets smaller and hits the button less frequently, but when it does it hurts all the same.

This has been the best way to describe grief for me. Not seeing my dad’s name on cards still hurts and I’ve not even brought myself to delete his number from my phone. However, the ball inside the box has got smaller.

There’s a saying that goes “life doesn’t throw at you what you can’t handle” and although I believe this to be true, life also has the ability to crush you, and you’ll have to pick yourself piece by piece off the floor. However, I do believe life does go on, and happiness can be found again and that’s what’s given me hope over the last few years.

I guess I now see life as a book. I still sit and revisit previous chapters often, especially those with my dad. However, I’m trying to live more in the current ones and get excited for what’s ahead because there’s so much happiness to be found in new chapters, only if you allow yourself to turn the page.

Laura xo

Dear Dad, (this one’s for you)


Hi Dad,

Today as you know is my 24th birthday and although we’ve never made a huge deal out of birthdays as a family, this year will be a pretty big one for me. Not because of my age or any milestone but because this will be the first one without you.

It’s a pretty difficult concept to get my head around that this year I won’t receive a card, a text message or call from you wishing your “Laura-Lou” a happy birthday. The void that I feel today no one else will ever fill, nor should they, it will serve as the constant reminder that I had someone so great in my life that they can never be replaced. However I don’t want to focus on what’s not here today,  instead I thought i’d share some of your photography with the world (all of  these photos i’ve only recently stumbled across). These photos have inspired me dad, to look at the world and capture it the way you did because you really did have a talent for capturing the beauty in what is around us.

So Thank you for these photos, maybe had you still of been here I may have never stumbled across them or even still, been blind to the little things around us that I now know are so important.

This year and many years to come I will consider these my gifts from you. Because these photographs give me the opportunity to see the world again through your eyes and they will forever give me some lasting connections to how you viewed this world we no longer share.

I’m so so proud to be your daughter, half of what I am and what I will achieve will always be half you. This year my birthday won’t be about celebrating me, it will be about celebrating you. Thank you for giving me this day and from now on it will be a day I always share with you.

I miss you deeply but heres to us. Happy our day Dad.

Love Laura- Lou





Coping With Grief: The Things I’ve Learnt



Everyone at some point in their life will experience grief and loss, its an unfortunate, inevitability of life. The reason grief is so challenging is because it manifests itself physically, psychologically and even spiritually (when you start to doubt your beliefs as to why something so terrible could happen). I’ve learnt that grief is never a straight line or a series of stages like the ones proposed. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, you may feel all of them at once or you may feel depression before denial, there is no set order and there is no set rule book to say you’ll experience them all either.

I’ve spent the last few months cowering away from this subject because I very much want to promote being positive however I feel that isn’t a very true representation of life and especially mine. Life isn’t always positive and quite frankly its pretty shit sometimes. Seven months ago my dad committed suicide. A death that not many people have to deal with nor a death that I thought I ever would and especially to someone so close to me. The day my dad died it was like I became two people, the person I was before he died and person I now was. I knew that day my life would never ever be the same again and at that point that was probably about the only thing I did know.

At some of my worst points of dealing with grief (not that i’m by any means completely out of them) especially in the first few months after my dad died I truly believed life would never go on again but here I am. Reflecting on the last seven months, I wanted to share some of the things i’ve learnt about coping with grief and to any one who’s going through a loss or similar experience, maybe some reassurance you’re not alone.


1.Your loss is completely unique to anyone else. Despite other people who have gone through a similar experience to you, it will never be the same. You will feel isolated in your grief because to you no one truly understands your loss, how could they? They didn’t know the relationship you had with the person or the experiences that you shared.

2.Grief will not and should not define you or the rest of your life. I remember in the weeks after my dad died. I said to my boyfriend “well that’s my life ruined”. I felt as though i’d never live a ‘normal’ life again. I’d never get that ‘normal’ experience of having my dad walk me down the aisle or that my children would grow up with only one Grandad as opposed to two. I became so consumed in the way in which my life had changed so negatively and so dramatically, I could only focus on the things that losing my dad meant I would never have. From this I became very bitter and resentful and after a few months I knew I had to make sure I wouldn’t let my dads death define me or my life. No matter what, i’m still here to live and to any one who’s lost someone through illness, accident or like me suicide, you should never let it define yours too. No matter how unfair, cruel you feel the world has been to you and justifiably you’ve lost someone you care about however remember you are the one still here to live. It is and will always be a natural feeling to mourn, miss and wish for the person to be back with you just so that you could have that one more conversation or just to give them one more hug. Unfortunately the harshest part about death is its unchangeable, finality and for that reason you need to live your life for them, for you but most importantly because you deserve too.

“Grief does not change you, it reveals you”

– John Green, The fault in our stars

3.Don’t just go through grief, grow through grief. No one ever asks to lose someone they care about but unfortunately It happens and normally when we are least expecting it or even less so prepared for it. Grief is one of the biggest challenges you will ever face in life. You’ll think at stages that you’ll never get through it, I still have those days now and I’m sure I will do for years to come. But as the months pass, when I look back I can’t believe how far I have come, even though if I have a bad day now I feel like i’m back at the beginning of the grieving process. Just like any obstacle in life you face, once you over come it that disbelief of “how the hell did I do that or get through that ” overwhelms you and it’s the same with getting through grief, there will come a time that you’ll see how far you’ve come. When that time comes you will be 1000% be stronger and know a strength that you never knew was there to begin with. Hold on to that strength, utilise it because you never know when you might need it again.

4.Grief is not linear nor time limited.Everyone is different, everyone has adapted and acquired different coping mechanisms throughout their lives which means that the time it takes for someone else to heal, is by no means a reflection of how you are doing. Imagine grief on a graph, the initial few months showing the graph dramatically curve up and down reflecting the several different emotions we experience after losing someone. This grief line will consume most of our waking thoughts, controls our moods and behaviours. However there comes a time when it starts to tail off, for some it could be after six weeks for others it could be six years, but have faith in that time coming. When it does come, it does not mean you are done with grief, for me I don’t know if I ever will be. However there will be a time that your life line (for example your passions, hobbies, work and interests) will simply coincide with your grief.  Don’t see this as a negative, I try not to instead I see it as being in control of my grief. It may always be there but one day know that life and grief will be two lines that can run parallel with each other.

5.You will have no choice over the times when grief overwhelms you but you can choose how you cope.I’ve had breakdowns in shopping centres because i’ve heard my dad’s favourite song or i’ve been out running and a thought comes into my head and thats enough to set me off. The main thing though is how you deal with these moments, accept them, embrace them and at no point think it’s a sign of weakness or lack of coping.

6.The world keeps going and so must you.After losing someone, your whole entire world and being comes to a halt. Nothing seems real or fair anymore. You watch the world around you and ask “how can they go on with their lives, when i’m going through this?”. It’s so natural to feel this way, I hated the world after my dad died, why did others get to be happy and not me? You may also feel like blaming and questioning yourself, “could I have done more?”, “should I have spent more time with them?”. This blame stems from our subconscious because by blaming ourselves it gives us some control over a situation in which we have very little.  No matter what type of death you’ve gone through know that blaming yourself is the longest road to healing.

To end this post, after binge watching Orange Is The New Black, I heard a quote that really resonated with me….

“Pain is inevitable because life is frickin’ painful, but suffering is a choice”.

You can’t let the weight of grief choke all the joy out of your life. Grief will come in waves throughout your life but even the worst ones will make you a stronger swimmer and in the words of Dory from Finding Nemo, sometimes all we can do is “just keep swimming”.



Laura xoxo