ignorance is smellier than death - #nofilter

Hello! Merry Christmas, Ho Ho Ho. What better time of year than to write a blog post about death? I could write one about sparkly candy canes and turkey dinners but, you know me.

This week I'm doing a kind of raw social media week where I accept my mistakes as good things and get personal with the hashtag #nofilter. My project has been about bravery and I'm exploring that via social media at the moment and how 'brag culture' exists & creates a seemingly perfect life. This is a good week for me to be brutally honest and post parts of something that I've been afraid to post before now. Bravery in this case is an 85-year-old lady suffering from early dementia who had lost her husband, wanting to die. That's how brave my lovely nana was.

This is something I've wanted to write about for a while but thought "nope, that's just too weird and people will think I'm either insane or want sympathy". That really isn't the case, I just want this post to help people. The question is, why do people think it's weird to talk about death? Maybe everyone's scared of the inevitable, surely discussion with people in the same boat would help this fear?

Death is a hard, natural process but something that has to happen. If you're waiting for it to happen the only thing you can do is to try and make it as dignified as possible, because that person deserves it. It's hard to leave a hospital, say goodbye as if it's the last time and then come back the next day and do it all over again, it's something that so many people have to go through and it's even harder when people are terminally ill. C'mon euthanasia law, be legal already?

There came a point where I was almost wishing death upon her, because it wasn't her anymore and she didn't deserve this long undignified process. Remembering her lying in a hospital bed waiting for her body to give up, is the main part that makes me cry now. It was like she had already gone at that point and we were grieving in front of her still-alive body.

Before I continue to ramble on about emotional stuff, I'm going to start talking about post-death, because I wanted this to be informative. I went to view my nan's body and d'ya know what? I had no clue what to expect. It was such an eerie thought and kind of exciting in a curious way (as bad as that sounds). We get such little information about death and I think that's what makes it an intriguing subject. It certainly intrigues me and I follow morticians and pathologists on Instagram – I find the subject so strange and exciting that I think I could (with a little bit of training) stomach the job of a pathologist (if I was brainy enough).

You can google 'What happens when you go to see a dead body' over and over but no one will be able to tell you how you'll feel (Not even me). What I can tell you is how I felt and what I wish I had known beforehand:

1. When you walk into the funeral home you won't see the body straight away -  (I thought you would, so I was freaking out). In our case we sat at a table with a lovely funeral director, who had an amazing top hat, which I really wanted to try on. She told us exactly what to expect, she even pointed out the bad things which I thought was very brave considering we were sniffly, grieving family. It's so easy for people to sugar coat bad experiences, but this wasn't the case at all. She told us it would be cold in the room and that this was needed for obvious reasons. My mum and dad went in first to let us know what to expect and me and my sister sat and flicked through casket catalogues, OH HOW MORBID.

2. When you walk into the viewing room it will be freezing – this can be quite eerie in itself. In my case I couldn't really see my nan until we walked a little further in, but as soon as I did I felt relieved because I was expecting so much worse. You're left alone, or with your family so you can have a few last moments with your loved one.

3. Coffins are really fancy – I had never seen one inside, but they look cosy and they're also really compact, I thought they'd have a lot more room inside.

4. Your loved one will look different, and it's strange -  Things that used to exist will be taken out and replaced with padding, like a weird human version of The Bear Factory. The mouth will look strange for this reason and eyes kind of do too even though they're closed. After seeing my nan in pain feeling horrible and groggy in a hospital bed, seeing her with makeup and looking peaceful helped. I'm sure she'd be happy to have 'a bit of slap on' too!

5. Seeing a dead body helped me accept it -  It gave closure that I needed and helped me see the body as a shell. It depends if you're into all this spiritual stuff, I'm not quite sure personally.

6. You can touch them if you like – I was EXTREMELY hesitant about this, but my curious side made me in the end. I touched her hand and I stroked her head and it felt strange. Her head was rock solid and freezing, her hands felt waxy with each vein and wrinkle more prominent. I believe this happens because of the preservative used to replace the blood.

7. Some parts might not be perfect, but it won't smell - The lady warned us that some discoloration had begun happening in places like her hands. This was mainly on areas where she had blood taken from in hospital that had begun bruising after she died. You might also see an incision where the jugular vein is in the neck, where embalming fluid may be injected.

8. Psychologically you will feel really weird – my feeling for that whole night and a few days after could only be compared to the scene where Lady Macbeth keeps washing her hands of invisible blood. TAKE HAND SANITISER (I didn't and felt SO conscious of the fact that I had touched a dead body). Dead bodies are clean and are hardly different to an alive body, but death has been portrayed as a scary and smelly kind of thing, so it's only natural to feel this way. When you're in a funeral home as well, if you're like me all you'll be thinking of is "what's in that cupboard", "what's down those stairs?" and "how many bodies are there that could chase me?"

9. You can take things to put in the coffin with your loved one – we took photographs but having known this earlier I would probably have written some kind of letter, because it would've felt nice, as lame as it sounds.

10. Finally, you will feel like you can do anything else life throws at you – not only after going to see a dead body, but after dealing with everything that death brings with it. Lots of people around me have died, but I've never visited for so long and watched it happen daily and I had never viewed a body until then. Now I feel stronger and my outlook on death has kind of changed a little bit, although it's still a little bit scary.

I hope that this post helps people who are a little bit curious and has been personal enough (I don't know how more personal I can get). I hope I haven't offended anyone with my weird humour or beliefs, but everyone is entitled to their own spiritual or non-spiritual thoughts on the subject.

If you have any questions then feel free to post in the comments and I will happily answer, not that I am a death guru or anything. 

all of the feels

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Oh my goodness, I haven't written a blog since September and I don't know what's happened. Actually, I do know what happened - THIRD YEAR OF UNIVERSITY HAPPENED. 

I feel like lots has probably gone on that I wanted to blog about, I have a really morbid post about death that I never posted (which is probably a good thing) - but when I'm ready I'm going to bore you with my thoughts on the subject. I kind of got fed up with this place being something that had to look nice and be a kind of business. I want this blog (if i continue from this) to be whatever I want it to be, which is why I spent approximately 1 minute on the photo for this post. 

I'm currently writing because I am freaking out so much, according to Josh I am grinding my teeth in my sleep because of stress (and that doesn't actually surprise me because every morning I wake up with complete dread and guilt because of the amount of work I have to create). Pity me? 

I'm probably just being a wimp, but I don't cope well with impending doom, especially when it's in the form of writing. I'm writing this blog post very quickly, and I enjoy it - but I have to write a formal dissertation with fancy words and no I's and it's due in by January. I love my topic, I feel passionate about it - I JUST HAVE NO TIME TO START IT. 

I'm not going to pretend like I haven't had time. I had time. I started the academic year off really badly with my nan passing away pretty unexpectedly - this didn't help and I feel like it took me ages to get into the swing of things. I grieved by shopping and spending money I shouldn't have actually spent because everything in TK Maxx is so pretty. I watched every series of The Walking Dead and as a result thought every slow human being was a zombie. I literally did anything that I could to avoid doing work. 

It's all my fault and now after not finishing my project on the suggested deadline I am trying to balance two competition briefs, freelance work and a dissertation and I feel like I'm going to explode. At least when you're in a job you can switch off to some extent when you come home from work, but this year feels so important and the importance of it is really holding me back. 

P.S - I ALSO HAVE NO MONEY AND IT'S CHRISTMAS SOON. CHRISTMAS IS STRESSFUL. 

I understand that this has been a poop blog post but I feel like I needed to get said stress off my chest. 

Here's a list of things that happened that I forgot to blog about: 
1. Dismaland (HOW COULD I FORGET?) 
2. That big 'ol thing called death
3. Greeting card designs

(Upon reflection I've basically done nothing for the past three months) 

everybody really does drink irn-bru

Hello blog world, I write from Costa Coffee where I am accompanied by peach iced tea, coffee and walnut cake and hippie ramblings from John Lennon in my headphones - these three things combined with the fact that I am writing away in a coffee shop make me feel like an important author or actually just bad ass. The reality is that I'm not an author at all, in fact I've just finished watching Loose Women and I don't have internet at the moment in my house, so I'm just here writing to tell you about a recent adventure to the land of Kilts and strange orange liquids that taste like bubblegum.

I'm quite proud of that intro, clearly this coffee shop malarky is having an effect on me. Anyway, last Sunday we got home from a lovely time in Edinburgh (it's the northest I've been and I've never actually been North of Wales). Since, we have fallen in love with the city and as much as I love home I can't help but miss the ease of transport and artiness of Edinburgh, the architecture is also amazing, and crazily spooky! I feel like this will be 1/2 or even three posts I do because I have my phone photos, film photos and SLR photos so in a month's time you're going to be very fed up of seeing Edinburgh.

We went away Monday-Thursday and started the holiday with a 2am wakeup for our flight which we were way too early for, this meant we got to Edinburgh at about 8am but also resulted in us wandering around on our first day as zombies with cases (also soaked by rain). We went for an early check-in and slept in the comfiest Travelodge beds for a good couple of hours and then explored for a little bit. The second day was the fullest day and we ticked off a large amount of things from our list and Lauren's list which she kindly put together for us, we ticked off so much that weren't sure what to do the next day!

Favourites

I thought I'd but together a list of my highlights from the trip and some of my favourite places off the list, because this is something I found really useful when researching before hand:

1. Red Door Gallery

(I cannot begin to explain how amazing this place is, I struggled to pick from all of the lovely prints and basically I could've bought everything, I probably spent around an hour in here). I've wanted this John and Yoko print by Andsmile Studio for so long and they had it for sale in there. I also really want to get this Gandalf - YOU SHALL NOT PAAAASS print for our house as I know it's one Josh will appreciate. 

2. Little Ox Gallery - Another lovely place selling prints, gifts and stuffed ducks if that floats your boat. I didn't buy anything from here but I could've easily bought lots. SO MUCH COOL DOCTOR WHO STUFF. 

3. Hannah Zakari - A small shop with loads of handmade jewellery, gifts, cards etc and the cutest pin badges you'll ever see. Located just down the road from Little Ox Gallery in Greyfriars.

4. Mary's Milk Bar

Being a massive ice cream enthusiast this was top on my list. A lovely vintage setting which sends you back to the 1940s, serving gorgeous ice cream.I went for the dark chocolate ice cream and oh my god it was soooooo good and creamy. 

5. Oink - So pig carcasses never look very nice, but damn they taste good. This place serves pork rolls at quite reasonable prices, if you're as brave as Josh you can have haggis with the pork but I stuck to mild chilli and apple sauce on separate occasions.

6. National Museum of Scotland

- We had such a great time in here and considering the museum was free it was the best I've been to, even better than the V&A. It was really interactive and had some gorgeous displays, most of my holiday pictures are of the museum, definitely worth a visit.

7. Greyfriar's graveyard

- Apparently a very haunted graveyard with a poltergeist, reading up on this graveyard was spooky and really interesting, apparently the person who lived there had the house burnt down twice. If you're not into all that spooky stuff it's also really old and has some lovely victorian gravestones (If you're a Harry Potter fan there's also Tom Riddle's gravestone, where you can disrespectfully pose like we did! Although it's spelt differently).

8. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

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- I must say the one in the centre just off Princes Street wasn't my thing, which I believe was just The Scottish National Gallery, but we took a big trek to the modern art museum hunting for a Roy Lichtenstein exhibition which was great. I felt so lucky to be in Edinburgh at the same time it was on and really enjoyed seeing the work I had researched in GCSE art in the flesh. The shop was great in this museum too and the grounds were also really picturesque. 

9. Brew Lab

- This was a definite must for Josh who is a crazy fan of coffee. I am a fan of iced coffees and I had a Cold Brew iced mocha here - "Brew Lab Cold Brew is not iced coffee - a distrinction worth noting. Never heated, it's simply the finest single-origin cofee brewed overnight in pure Edinburgh water and triple-filtered for a clean, silky finish."  (Yup, I wasn't going to pretend I knew anything about coffee brewing, so there's a quote from the website).

It's probably one of the most hipster coffee shops I've ever visited, with rustic decor and an array of Bebas Neue and bearded men, but the coffee was good! 

10. Stills Centre for Photography

- This was something we just popped into, but I was genuinely amazed by this collaborative exhibition Here Comes Everybody by kennardphillipps (Upon coming home I also found out that the amazing billboard image is also at Dismaland which you'll see on my next post). A very thought-provoking photo-montage exhibition that you must visit!

11. The Elephant House

I wasn't massively blown away by the food/drink in this place but it did make a lovely place to go in the night with a view of the castle (I'm pretty sure it was the castle). Josh ate haggis here and I refused to go near his mouth until he had brushed his teeth thoroughly. If you like Harry Potter this is always where JK Rowling wrote some of the first pages of Harry Potter. I'm mainly including this for the amazing toilets which are covered in marker pen Harry Potter love.

It has been so hard to fit photos into this post and I still have so many *cry* I had a really great time and definitely want to visit again, the only thing I dislike about big cities is the sheer amount of homeless people on the streets, it makes me feel so sad and I just want to give them all food. - I hope if you're visiting that this list proves to be a little bit useful for you. I'd 100% recommend visiting this beautiful city!

Thanks for reading! :)