MENTAL HEALTH A-Z: G is for Grief; in memory of my Grandad

I peek through the bedroom curtains to find a beautifully foggy morning. After suffering the longest awkward silence in a full lift, I shuffle outside and into the fog. With Chris Martin’s heart-breaking voice running through my earphones and this morning’s breakfast keeping me all warm and fuzzy, I begin my walk towards campus.

Autumn is my favourite time of year, and yet there is something deeply sad about it. Maybe it’s the sight of the leaves withered and decayed on the pavements, lying about until they darken and rot. Or perhaps it’s the sudden darkening of the sky, as if the late afternoon submits itself to the inevitable grasp of winter.

It may be a time for new beginnings, the building up towards celebrations and cosy evenings with blankets and hot chocolates, but it always reminds me of the people who are no longer here to see it.

This morning the falling leaves remind me of the cherry blossom outside of my grandparents’ house. It’s funny how you can’t get out the habit of calling it his house too, even though he’s not around anymore.

I remember peering outside of the living room window, watching as the dusty pink fragments drifted down like confetti. Sometimes I’d wander down the road to the corner shop with Grandad, giggling as I skipped alongside him, in the pure bliss of spring sunshine and a blur of frizzy curls.

It feels strange, walking in a big city alone, twelve years later.

I walk past a shop window already displaying Christmas items and my mind drifts back to the hazy memory of my Auntie’s party when I was ten, perhaps eleven. We’re all sitting in a disorderly circle between the kitchen and the conservatory door, the smaller of us cross-legged on the carpet. In the spirit of family tradition, she hands us each a secret santa present; we all pretend we don’t know it is from her and say our thanks to Father Christmas. Uncle Nen gets a joke book, which he begins reading terrible lines from straight away. They make us all groan but we laugh anyway.

Christmas Eve was never quite the same after he’d gone.

I snap out of it to cross the road. Thoughts are often like this when I walk: fragmented and with a lingering sense of emotion. As though my mind hasn’t quite finished ordering all the elements into their place.

The song changes and I am taken back to that one Easter when everything felt as if it was crashing down. I am back by that coast, walking for miles to try and get rid of the deadlines and thoughts and emotions screaming at me.

But strangely, I almost feel the urge to smile.

It’s as though remembering all these things keeps me moving. Thinking of the times I was at my worst empowers me; I have come so far and will keep getting better.

Recently losing Grandad, who was such a positive influence upon my life but also my little sister’s, has left a raw scar. Being here, walking towards campus, drifts my mind back to the funeral. Every single unknown relative who approached me knew more about my life than I seemed to; he had told everyone he knew how proud he was of all things I’ve done. Some days I almost see him, and wish I could go back and thank him for all the kind things he has said to me. But now it’s all becoming a blur, fading into the mass of unorganised things left floating around my head.

Approaching Cavendish Road my trail of thought gradually comes to an end.

And, as I am sure you have already done whilst reading this emotional ramble, it is at this point when I stand back and realise how twisted my brain actually is.

Perhaps I should stop reading so much depressing literature. If I’m not careful I will turn into Sylvia Plath poem- a lovely but rather depressing form to remain in for too long.

Come to think of it, Coldplay’s Ghost Stories wasn’t the cheeriest move either. Not that I learn; it’ll be the same album accompanying my thoughts on the misty walk home.

Charlie Collett

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