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A little bit about grief

I thought I would make a post about grief to help make sense of my journey and potentially help others who have experienced loss. It also might explain why I have not done much photography over the last year or so (or posted as much).

This post doesn’t really have any form or structure. So sorry if it doesn’t make complete sense.

One thing I have realised since losing my mum is that the subject of death and grief is not spoken about nearly enough. I find this amazing considering it is something everyone has to experience at some point.

I will give some insights on how I have been and also what things I found helpful in the healing process. There is no right or wrong way to feel and everyone deals with grief in different ways.

My main advice for anyone with loved ones still alive is to make the most of your time with them. Visit them a little bit more, take photos, record their voice, take videos and take the time to talk to them about their life and their wishes. You will honestly feel so much better for it.

(Like myself) my mum hated having her picture taken etc so they were very few and far between. I think I have a handful of pictures at most. I have displayed these images in a photo frame which definitely helped. I felt like I had done something productive.

A bit of background.

My mum passed away at Bradford Royal Infirmary on new years Eve 2022 after an 8 week stay in hospital. It was truly traumatic seeing my mum deteriorate and witnessing the life fading out of her. She passed away with my dad and I holding her hands. The last 8 weeks were horrific and she had Covid the last week of her life so didn’t get to see her much at all.

Prior to my Mum dying I thought I had prepared myself for her passing and I thought I was fairly experienced with loss.

I lost various family members whilst I was a child. In my early 20s I lost 2 close friends (Danny & Phil) who sadly passed away in a car crash.

More recently (and something which affected me more than I realised) I,(along with my dad) tried to perform CPR on one of my neighbours. This lasted for over 10 minutes. Sadly he did not make it.

Despite my previous losses, nothing prepared me for the loss of my mum. I cannot put into words what it is like to lose someone who has been a constant throughout my whole life. A person who has showed unconditional love. It changed me as a person instantly and I do not think I will ever be the same again.

After my mums loss I was signed off work (my day job) for around 6 weeks and returned on a phased return. In retrospect I wish I’d have taken longer. It took a long time for the funeral to take place and I went back to work shortly after.

My work were brilliant and my friends at were a great help and very understanding of my situation.

I am a life long sufferer of anxiety and losing my mum amplified this, my doctor prescribed me some anti anxiety medication and I am still on these now (15 months later). This is not an option I wanted to take at the time but I needed help sleeping and wanted something to take the edge off my worry. They did help and are worth considering if you are feeling like I did. I was placed on some medication called Setraline. These took a while to take affect and actually made me feel worse in the early stages.

My doctor also referred me for grief counselling with Bradford Bereavement Support:

I can definitely recommend the counselling and you can self refer if needed.

It helped get me over the first hurdle and it was good to talk and get things out and help me process some of the issues I was dealing with. I think I had 12 sessions in total and it was fairly quick to organise. I know it’s an option people quickly dismiss but I cannot recommended it enough. (Even if it’s been a long time since your loss). Another good counselling service I was offered was with Cruse bereavement support. From what I can remember you could chat to these online straight away.

More recently I have been referred for some trauma counselling through BDC therapy. Although referred via my doctor I think this is also a service you can self refer to.

I am currently on a waiting list. I think the trauma of my mums death has manifested in other ways and I think it’s important to address what I’ve been through and to try and process it. Hopefully it will help me moving forward.

How has grief affected me

In the early stages of grief I really struggled with accepting and processing anything. I was looking into the after life and the possibility of signs of life after death etc. I think in hindsight I was just trying to find any shred of evidence that my mum was ok and that she had gone to a better place. Quite strange because it was something I have never been interested in before.

In general I have definitely lost motivation for lots of things that I used to love. I stopped exercising, started eating more and became less tolerant and more despondent. My sleep definitely suffered. I think these are pretty common side effects that most people encounter after loss. I have also completely lost interest in photography.

Another thing I noticed was that felt guilty for any moments of happiness and even with my kids whenever there was a nice moment I was thinking that my mum is missing out and I can no longer share it with her. It’s quite a unique situation.

I think the best advice to give in the early stages of grief is not to put any pressure on yourself. Take each day as it comes. I set myself small goals to start with which helped me focus on each day. Activities included things like going for a walk, sorting out belongings, sorting parts of the house out etc. Just something to occupy the time.

With regards to the social side of my life, unfortunately I have become a bit distant with my friends. I can't really put my finger on why this is but in general I am inactive on group chats, failing to respond to messages etc (or being very rubbish at it)

I am quite an antisocial person in general (in terms as socialising in person) but as someone who has always kept in daily contact with most of my friends this has definitely been a big change.

One thing I can definitely recommend is reducing time on social media. I have become aware of how overwhelmed I feel by it and as a result I have decided to cull some platforms. After noticing my screen time and realising it was somewhat of an addiction I wanted to do something positive about it.

I think a lot of people suffer from spending too much time on their phones. Some more information about it can be read here

I am still early days but this has massively helped reduce my anxiety levels.

Despite this change helping my mindset - It was a harder decision for me to make because my accounts are centred around my photography. My accounts have grown so much over the last 1-2 years that I really struggle to keep up with the running of them.

I get a lot of messages and comments and it takes a lot of my time up responding and I feel bad/guilty when I cannot do this.

I am eternally grateful for the online support and I am aware that a lot of people like seeing my photographs and find them a great help in their day.

I have been fortunate to make some great friends on social media over the years and speak with some inspirational people. I realised that in order to look after my own mental health, I really wanted to be more present in the moment with my family and less active on my phone and therefore feel it was a change I needed to make (Hope that makes sense).

Planning for the future.

My mums death has made me more aware of my own mortality and what I might leave behind. With this in mind I decided to organise my own possessions. I sorted photos, documents, put in plans for life insurance and pensions and I have left them in a place easy to find for my family. (I know this sounds morbid but it helped). It made me feel in control knowing that my family will have easy access to things they need.

Since my mum died it is important to me (more than ever) to do the things that I think would make her proud. She always taught me to be kind and caring and I am finding this hard at the moment but working hard to do so.

I’ve realised that time is very precious and fragile and that I should focus on the things that are important. I have set targets to better myself each day.

Some other things I have done which I found useful was visiting some of my mums favourite places (York for example). My mum used to talk about foxes all the time. The last time I went to York I was photographing a scene and out of nowhere (on a city street) a fox walked into the frame and stood still whilst I took the photo and then moved on. I considered this to be a sign from my mum.

Another simple thing that helped me. - my mums favourite flower were geraniums. So with the help of my family I planted some of these and placed them by my front door. I thought it was a good symbol - something living that I could see every time I returned home or left the house. This was a big help.

Right I think that is enough of me waffling.

I have managed to get through with the immense support from my wonderful family and friends.I am eternally grateful for this and very lucky to have such a good support network and I hope to be back with some new photography soon. I have currently set myself a goal to try and produce a 2025 calendar.

Thanks for reading ✌️ hopefully there will not be a chapter 2 for quite a while

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