20 July 2020

Love, loss and lockdown

The past few months have been nothing short of extraordinary. The life I had at the start of March is now a completely different one. 

In March, I was in such a stable routine. Work, events, visiting my nanny, going to the gym, dating and generally rushing about. As exciting and full as my life was, I was EXHAUSTED. I never rested. I am quick to preach about self care but slow to put it into practice. So when I was forced to be home, alone, panic set in. 

Although I had lived alone for just over 2 years, my house was often no more than a B&B - a place to grab something quick to eat and get sleep. I’d spend my weekend tidying up after the mess I’d left from being a whirlwind during the week - doing laundry and mopping floors. Rest didn’t factor in unless it was forced upon me via a beauty treatment, spa or holiday. Given that I work in PR by day and do social media/blogging in my spare time, my brain seldom switched off. I was trying to date someone & not giving it proper attention because my brain was 42 other places. My grandma had also been in a care home for over a year and although I knew she was ok, I don’t think I slept properly for a full year. I worried about her all the time. 

In comes lockdown like the forced stop I didn’t think I needed. No going to the office to see the girls, no going for lunch with my best friend, no seeing my family. It was the first time I had to really bond with my house. It was the first time I was truly forced to be on my own. I know my friends and family would always categorise me as independent but the thing I feared most was being on my own. I think so many people have the same fear - being with your own thoughts 24/7 can take you to a bad place. 

At first lockdown was a novelty and then I did start to get very upset and lonely despite phone calls, Zoom and FaceTime. My true joy was speaking to my Nanny on FaceTime. My 11am tea break with her was always the best bit of my day. 

Saying that, the digital world is no replacement for a real life relationship. Nothing can replace a coffee and a hug with a friend after a long week. Lockdown also meant any sense of routine was out the window and I had to make a new one. I found new walks close to wear I live, I did Pilates in my living room and I started skipping in my back garden. it. During lockdown I had baths where I watched a movie, spent hours doing makeup looks and had fun making content for my blog. Like many people I continued to work from home which has its own challenges too. I think lockdown had so many highs and lows. I feel like I learned so much about myself and made me question who I am and what I want. It made me think about my relationships and my investment in them. It made me think about my work life balance. 

It felt like life was starting to come back to normal when my greatest fear was realised. Loosing my granny came like a tonne of bricks. Many of you followed our journey and my public plea to be able to see her due to restrictions on care home visits. I knew we were playing with borrowed time because of her dementia. She knew my mum & I right to the end but she had forgotten our life together. It broke my heart but she still knew on FaceTime that I was her “wee one” when I came on to chat. She recovered from COVID only for her journey with dementia to come and finish her life a few weeks later. I am so thankful that we were allowed to be with her as I know many people during the pandemic have been robbed of this. Although I have experienced loss before, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced this level of grief. They say your grief is measured by the love you had for that person. My nanny was more than a grandmother - she was my other parent, my biggest cheerleader and my great love. I used to joke and say I knew I would always be single when she was alive because I couldn’t possibly love another human as much as I loved her. If you have a grandmother like I did, you will understand. 

Experiencing loss whilst life is still unsure is very strange. Not being able to hug and kiss people when you are grieving feels very traumatic in a way - it’s the one time you need it more than ever. But that is life now. Unsure but seemingly still moving forward. 

For a few weeks I felt inside a big bubble and life was moving at a different pace from me. I remember the weekend she passed away was also the first weekend restaurants and hotels were opening. I was sat at home in floods of tears on my own watching people post on social media. I felt like my world had just fallen apart and couldn’t understand people who were thrilled to be living life again. 

I’m a month on in my grief journey. It still feels very new. I forget most mornings for about 5 minutes. Sometimes I love those minutes and others I just cry. I’m so glad we can go for coffee and out to dinner now. Lockdown and 2020 has forever changed my life. My outlook on life feels very different. I appreciate the smallest of things now. It’s not the fancy holidays or the flash cars that matter - it’s a cuppa in the garden, it’s a walk to the beach, it’s crying down the phone when you feel at your wits end. 

A wise person told me the other day “Don’t think about what you have lost, think about what you had and how that has made you strong”. I know many of us are walking about with a heavy heart grieving the people we have lost and the time we feel very robbed of. I am trying to think of things in a positive light. I still experienced so much love during lockdown - from friends who dropped food at my door to 2 hour phone conversations, love comes in many different formats. 

As life continues to be strange, go easy on yourself. That’s my motto for the rest of 2020. I’m not expecting too much of myself or indeed of others. It’s a year where we all need to heal and to grow. I feel like I’m on a completely new journey - a life I’ve never known before. It’s probably the first time I’ve had to be hard on myself and put myself first. It’s also the first time that I’ve had to let myself rest and stop working. 

2020 is a year I will never forget - forever changed, forever loved.