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Wednesday, 28 September 2016

A Tribute To My Granny

"In loving memory."

I haven't really spoken about this but on the 1st of September my maternal grandmother passed away. I didn't talk about it because everything felt so generic and fake. I didn't want people telling me how sorry they were for my loss and I didn't want sympathy. I didn't want people assuming how I felt about it, nor could I put it into my own words. I just wanted to process things by myself, in my own way. I wanted to grieve without having to perform it.

Part of the reason why I wanted to keep my grieving process so private is because my granny lived in England. I only saw her a handful of times throughout the years and even less since my grandfather passed away. This has always been a sore spot with my mum because my paternal grandparents live around the corner and we've always been very close. I think she always wished we could have the same relationship with her parents as we did with my dad's.

The thing is, despite this I've always felt a certain connection with my granny and granda Caroll. Growing up, my mum would tell me stories about my granda's love of animals and how he was always bringing strays home. He even worked as a grounds keeper at Belfast Zoo and once brought home a feral cat that had been living in the grounds. I always felt I had gotten my own love of animals from him. My mum would also tell me about my granny's creative and crafty side too, and her love of toys and collectables. Regardless of how much time we spent together I've always felt undeniably linked to them, probably more than anybody - even I - realised.

So when I learned of my granny's passing, I was hit with a sense of loss and missed opportunity. I felt grief but it was an empty numb grief. It was like there had been a placeholder in the space meant for my maternal grandparents and all the memories I should have with them but with her passing it became just a void that could never be filled. I didn't think anyone would understand that and as such I felt like an impostor, hijacking grief that wasn't rightfully mine and what's more, I wasn't performing it in the right way. So I decided to keep it to myself, until today.

Today, 28th of September, my granny Carroll's funeral took place. She had hoped to have her funeral three days after her death - as is the tradition in Northern Ireland - rather than the normal two or so weeks it usually is in England. However, issues planning her funeral meant it was almost a month before everything could be put in place. As the funeral took place in England, I wasn't able to go to the funeral.

I knew from missing my granda and uncle's joint funeral and my cousin's funeral, that I've always been left feeling a lack of closure. They're some of my biggest regrets, despite being very young at the time and not having the choice. So it was important to me to pay tribute to my granny in some way today. I decided the best way to do that was memorialising her in a blog post. I spent today working on a portrait of her and keeping her in my thoughts. I also took some photos of two things I have from her that I'll cherish forever.

First I have this ring. More than a decade ago, I was rooting around in my mum's jewellery box and came across a little velvet ring box in the shape of a rose. I popped it open and inside was this beautiful ruby ring. My mum has never been one to wear that type of jewellery and I swear I felt like it was the most special thing I'd ever seen.  I was in awe. To me it looked like something a princess would own, particularly in the velvet rose box.

I asked my mum where she had gotten it and she told me that my granny had given it to her. I guess she could tell how much I loved it, so she told me that I could have it when I was older. Anyone that knows me knows I'm not much into jewellery, especially expensive jewellery but there has always just been something about this ring. I still call it the princess ring. All this time I have had my mum keep it with her jewellery so I would know that it was safe but now that I'm older, I think I'm going to start wearing it. 

So the ring is something I owned that belonged to my granny and this little tea set is something that was a present from my granny. 

As far as I'm aware, she had one of them herself and when she learned that I loved things like this she bought me one as a present and a keepsake. It means so much to me that it's not only a present from her but it's also something we both loved and had an interest in. It's something I'll always keep safe and display. I like to think that maybe I'll pass it on to someone some day, perhaps one of my sister's children or something.

Finally, I wanted to include the drawing I worked on today. It's one of those pieces that is never going to feel quite perfect enough but I had to put my pen down eventually. I really hope I captured her and did her enough justice. In the photo I worked from she is around fifteen and it's one of my favourite photos of her.

Today my granny Carroll was laid to rest. My mum said it was a beautiful ceremony and that my granny would have been proud. In my place I sent a cup and saucer display of flowers, with a colour scheme carefully picked to represent my sisters and I - blue, pink and purple. While I couldn't be their in body, I wanted to be there in spirit. I'm glad I could do that and I'm grateful I could say goodbye in my own way too. Hopefully in a way that my granny would have appreciated.


  1. A very touching and sweet post. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Bless you Sara, I really am sorry and what a beautiful post. That photo of her is stunning and your drawing a brilliant tribute to her. I bet she would be very proud of your talents.


  3. I'm sorry to hear about your granny Sara, it's never easy when a grandparent passes x



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