Grief can be lonely, especially if none of your peers have experienced a significant loss. Even with support, it can be hard to express what’s going on for you, including the vast range of complex emotions, physical symptoms and all the triggers. Having someone who gets it can help.
That’s what we both craved, leading us to RSVP to a grief group meet-up in 2020, searching for support and connection. We didn’t know it then, but it would be a meeting that would change our lives.
Sitting across from each other, we listened to each other share our story with the group and instantly connected. We’d both lost our mums suddenly, months apart. It was a few days later that Im slid into Sal’s inbox, suggesting to meet up.
We bonded instantly, and it felt like such a relief to be able to talk so openly about grief and our experiences. One thing we noticed was the lack of relatable grief support and how it seemed no one around us knew what to do or say. We wanted to hear honest conversations about what grief was like that didn’t approach the topic clinically or formally.
We wondered how many other people were struggling with loneliness and longing for connection with fellow grievers and decided we could help create the kind of grief support we wish we had.
That’s when we had the lightbulb moment to start the Good Mourning podcast, and the rest is history. From our first recording on Sal’s sofa to 100 episodes, a top podcast and a global community that reaches over 100 thousand people each month, it’s been an incredible journey so far and we’re honoured to support others coping with loss.
My lovely Mum, Rose, who was otherwise healthy, died from SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy) in November 2019. She was only 64. I got the phone call to tell me she died one morning, when I was getting ready for work. As I tried to understand what I’d just heard, nothing felt real.
In one phone call, I had gone from “life is good”, to “life can’t get any worse.” I suddenly found myself wrestling with something I knew existed, but I’d never given much thought to: grief.
Within 24 hours I found myself on the next flight back to the UK. Anyone who’s taken that flight, you’ll know it’s a drag at the best of times, let alone when you are on your way to bury your mum. I remember thinking ‘This is my worst nightmare.’
But who’s got time to dwell on it? Not me, I had a lot to do. As the sole executor of my mum’s estate, I had people to tell, a funeral to plan, bank accounts to close, belongings to sort through. No warns you about how it’s like a punch in the stomach every time you have to call up another company to cancel a subscription in their name, or tell someone they are dead.
I swung from heartache, to fear, to sadness, exhausted but running on adrenaline and felt like I was going mad. This experience of grief I found myself in, it wasn’t anything like I had imagined, or how I’d seen it portrayed in popular culture. The expectations versus reality were wildly different and I couldn’t believe how little grief was acknowledged or talked about. As someone with over a decade in communications, I craved stories of others who were experiencing loss, but they were hard to come by. I knew that had to change.
This is what spurred me on to find connection with someone else who was coping with loss, too. It was through meeting Imogen that things got a little easier for me, and I am so grateful to be on this journey with her. I miss my mum each and everyday, and I am honoured that I can channel her through the work we do, as a way to keep her memory alive. I know she is cheering us on, from wherever she may be.
The day my world changed, I was nine months into being a first-time, tired new mum. Amidst the chaos of moving house one rainy Saturday morning in February 2020, boxes everywhere, and removalists shuffling in and out, I was multitasking breastfeeding and delegating where the removalists should put all my belongings as I began to visualise this next chapter of my life, in my new home. A home that my mum was due to move into with me the following day. She never made it.
I got a call to tell me that my mum, Vanessa, who had never experienced any previous mental health issues, had died by suicide. It was so incomprehensible that I then spent the next six months investigating my mum’s death and searching for answers, which added multiple layers of complication to my grief.
Forget the challenges of being a tired new mum; I had now become a suicide loss survivor. Suddenly, everything became meaningless. Life felt like an endless nightmare, my nervous system was in overdrive and I was diagnosed with PTSD. I felt completely and utterly broken.
Although I was well-supported by my friends and family, I felt lonely. Everyone was coping with the loss differently, and grieving on different notes. I felt desperate to connect with someone outside my circle, who understood what I was going through. Someone who would say to me, ‘It’s normal to feel lonely. It’s normal to feel like a shell of your former self. And yes, it’s normal to now be looking at life through a completely different lens.’
I had no idea that a brief encounter at a pub would change my life forever. It was there, at the aptly named Rose Hotel, where I met Sal.