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14th October 2018

Grief and building a sense of home.

Grief can be pretty lonely. You’ve lost a puzzle piece in the map of people you know and interact with, and your life becomes fragmented as a result. After losing my Mum, my understanding of my friends and family changed significantly. She’d been a centrepiece in that arrangement and suddenly she was gone.

That experience caused me to question my understanding of home. Home to me is a couple of key things:

  • A space in which you feel safe and secure and can be yourself.
  • A group of people with whom you can comfortably share time.

An obvious example of a home is the place where you live. Coming home after work, chilling and putting on some music. That’s home. Or going to a familiar place where you can relax and be yourself. Or even something as meagre as sharing news in a group chat and getting an influx of friendly replies.

A week ago I participated in the first LGBTQ Fun Palace (http://funpalaces.co.uk – please read all about them because they’re absolutely fantastic). I was in a room full of brand new people who shared my values and were really friendly AND I got to see people who I have a lot of love for AND the entire event was about community and sharing. I felt an unexpected sense of home, and I’ve been buzzing off it all week – so I felt as though it was worth attempting to explore and articulate my feelings and what caused me to feel so comfortable.

Before my Mum passed away, I would have defined home as my house in Sheffield where my Mum lived. Now I see home as something disparate: it’s a feeling I can garner from quite a lot of people in quite a lot of places. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Sometimes it makes me feel sad (I get extremely jealous of people who still have childhood homes and rooms), but most of the time I feel lucky. I can pick up my phone and text any number of people to generate a sense of home. Suddenly home isn’t one thing – it’s not objects that evoke memories – it’s not one particular person. It’s a whole pile of things.

It’s strange how grief can set you adrift. I feel like the best thing to do is embrace it. Having the lifestyle and people I have surrounding me makes me feel flexible. I feel as though I could travel the world and feel at home. Home has become this transportable thing that I can bring with me – and that isn’t traditional but it is pretty lovely.

Losing my Mum has meant I’ve had to change the way that I think and feel about things. I’ve had to find control and consistency where there hasn’t been any. So I think there’s real power in redefining and seizing my sense of ‘home’ – giving myself a sense of control. It’s also exciting, because who knows how many people I’ll end up tagging onto my mismatched sense of home?

I like to think that treating home this way – being open-minded and having good vibes about it is a healing way to be. I’m going to judge this based purely on the fact that most people who visit my flat end up falling asleep on the sofa, and I like to think that’s because I’ve created something that feels pretty bloody comfortable.


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7 responses to “Grief and building a sense of home.”

  1. Sue says:

    Beautiful and very true. Xxx

  2. Grandma Kate and Granddad Mike says:

    Oh Meg, this is amazing. Comfortably understandable, we associated with everything that you have written – thank you for sharing. We love you so much xx

  3. Richard Colley says:

    Lovely. I’m so sorry for your awful loss and so glad that you’ve discovered home lives in so many people and places. All the best 🙂

  4. Stella Duffy says:

    Megan this is lovely, both about grief and about the value of making new places for ourselves. As I just said on Amie’s facebook page, I think this IS what Fun Palaces are intending to do – to be a version of what ‘home’ might be, what ‘community’ might be – where we make it ourselves and to suit our own needs, so that each one is right for the people who make it.
    And as for missing the ‘home’ that has parents in it – it’s 15 years since I had a mother, 30 years since I had a father, and coming up for 38 years since I had a childhood bedroom and base, and I still miss them sometimes. I think it’s normal, sad but how it is, and also kind of lovely, that those spaces (even when they were far from perfect) still reside within us as a possibility we might recreate for others. Stella x

    • Megan Holland says:

      Hi Stella – thanks so much for your lovely message. Fun Palaces was that for me – I spent the entire day feeling slightly emotional about how comfortable I felt (and because it was a brilliant combination of people). I’m so glad Fun Palaces exists, and the thought of so many people connecting with it in so many different places and situations is pretty exciting.

      Thanks for sharing – I really resonate with that feeling. It is really lovely that those spaces reside with us – and that we can take the best of those memories and share them and make good space with others. xx

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