There has been a huge out-pouring of sadness, appreciation and nostalgia over recent months with the passing of some very bright stars: Prince, Victoria Wood and David Bowie to name but a few. And rightly so, as these people have no doubt touched and influenced the lives of so many.
I recall the day in 2008, when I heard that Paul Newman had passed away. It affected me greatly because not only was he my idol and role model, but as an aspiring scriptwriter, I had genuine aspirations of creating a character that he would one day breath into life. It was a bitter pill to swallow, that – although however unlikely – I would never have the opportunity to work on a Hollywood film set with the great man himself, as I had so often fantasised.
Grief is a very powerful emotion. Perhaps the most powerful of them all? It affects people in very different ways and I find it amazing how it can have such profound mental and physical effects on a person. Therefore, although I’ve never personally been the biggest fan of Prince’s music, I know intimately where the grief of those that are in mourning comes from.
However, as much as we mourn for these influential people and as much as we sometimes feel as though we knew them, there is nothing to compare that feeling, to the loss of someone close to you. At times like this, I am so often reminded of losing “me nan” and of how the grief of her loss helped lead me to hitch-hike 200 miles home for her funeral. It was a journey from Walthamstow to Wales that would take me 8 hours, a journey that I would no doubt otherwise never have made, one that pushed me outside of my comfort zone but that I am incredibly glad that I made.
This adventure helped to take my mind off things for a few hours, while helping me to meet six extremely different and uniquely wonderful people, who I would never have had the opportunity to meet. These people allowed me to do something in the spirit in which my nan lived her life and aided me in opening up and learning to understand both other people and myself a little better.
Looking back, it feels as though it was a once in a lifetime opportunity; looking back it seems more than a little crazy. I left my house – feeling extremely apprehensive – at around 2pm in the afternoon, with just a suitcase of clothes, some cardboard signs, £8.61 in lose change, a smidgin of optimism and a great big dollop of hope. I’m not completely sure what I was thinking. My judgement was definitely clouded by the power of my grief. I was unable to cry but I was able to get out there and tackle my grief the only way I knew how.
Writing this now, I can’t help but think that I would do anything to have my nan back. I just need one more conversation, one more cup of tea with her. She will always be one of my favourite people in the world and I will forever miss her massive presence in my life. But I will always be incredibly grateful for the times we shared and I can at least feel some happiness that the grief her death brought me helped me to go on a micro-adventure that I will never forget.
If anyone who is reading this is going through a great deal of grief right now, I feel you. Know that things will get better, grieve the way you need to, not the way people expect you to and never keep it to yourself; a problem shared is a problem halved, as they say.
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