This week has been rather a trying one for me so I wanted to do something positive and write this blog post, in the hopes that it may help somebody who is also struggling. Monday the 18th of June marked 8 years since my Dad died from alcoholism. As if that day wasn't hard enough - it unfortunately falls the day after fathers day. There is no hiding from it as my inbox has been filled with 'Don't forget about fathers day' marketing emails for weeks now, but I made the sensible decision to limit how much I looked at social media, as comparison tends to set in. Seeing everyone posting about their wonderful dads when mine is not here, and to be honest, when he was here he was a very complicated man.
Death is not a subject normally discussed at length in social situations - especially when addiction/suicide is involved. In an age where we are encouraging people to be more honest about mental health and sex - death still seems to be such a taboo subject. My experience was nobody knew what to say to me so they didn't say anything at all. They were obviously frightened of saying the wrong thing and I of course don't blame them for that but honestly, it left me feeling alone. Death is something that will inevitably happen to all of us and maybe if we were more open to talking candidly about it, we would be more prepared. Below are a few recommendations to things I have discovered that are striving to do just that.
GriefCast is hosted by comedian and actress Cariad Llyod whose dad died of cancer when she was 15 years old. Equipped with this experience, she started this podcast an effort to normalize talking about the difficult topic of death and grief. In each episode, she chats to a fellow comedian about the death of a close friend or family member about all the weird stuff that goes along with loosing someone close to you. And I promise, as the guests are comedians it's not completely depressing despite the heavy subject matter! Adam Buxton, Robert Webb and David Baddiel are among some of the more recognisable names featured. It's particularly relatable if you have lost someone close to you but I really think everybody should listen to it.
Host Nora McInerny came to the conclusion that sometimes the only truthful answer to the mundane everyday question of 'how are you?' is 'terrible - thanks for asking.' This podcast confronts trauma head on and asks people how they are really feeling. The podcast begins with host McInerny sharing her own experiences with grief - she has not had it easy. Her husband Aaron was diagnosed with brain cancer, she miscarried their second child and both her father and Aaron died within weeks of each other. Throughout the series, she interviews people who have suffered traumatic events and asks the tough questions that most would shy away from. She and the guests are ridiculously brave and honest, which makes for inspiring but sometimes heartbreaking listening. Her message is - sometimes terrible things happen so lets talk openly about it.
Series 2 has just been released of Flowers, which is a black comedy series written by Will Sharpe starring Olivia Coleman and Julian Barrett. It follows a troubling week in the life of the Flowers family. Maurice, a depressed children's writer, his wife Deborah, twin children Donald and Amy and Maurice's Japanese Illustrator Shun are a family on the brink of collapse brought about by mental illness. It is a hilariously honest depiction of mental illness, the consequences surrounding it and the ease at which it can be missed. I am a massive fan of black comedy, it is a genre us Brits are particularly brilliant at, and this is one of the best series I've seen in a long time. The writing, costumes, sets and acting is all incredible. I cannot recommend it highly enough.