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.