I have been processing the loss of love through illustration. Luke was diagnosed with lung cancer in September 2019 - but whilst on the third week of his first round of chemotherapy - Luke suffered a stroke on the 24th November 2019 and was kept on life support until the following day. It has been and continues to be a challenge to process after almost five years together, and the previous six as close friends.
(The little stop motion video below was on the day of what was to be his final birthday)
Writing one of the eulogies was gut-wrenching in the initial stages, but the expression was cathartic. Following Luke’s otherworldly send off on the winter solstice, I started to think about how to process grief in pictorial form. The character turned out to be a little hard-shelled yet squishy beast, a strange new omnipresent sidekick.
The grief snail is slow, surreal and alien-like - or in some sense a new version of an ethereal Luke - a creature to bounce thoughts off whilst the head keeps trying to catch up. My grieving character is a weird giraffe with no legs, somehow not complete, but hopefully evolving throughout the journey. Snaily is the representation of grief but also seems to take on a voice of reason; despite reason feeling so abstract.
I am so grateful to the resourcefulness that Luke taught me; he would bring back leftover relics from his film job and bits left out in the street, so that we could do them up and create new things. Having been a keen ornithologist, he was hawk-eyed and observant of life around him; forever curious. Following his advice on how to replace the broken fridge shelf, I recently found my Cinderella shelf from an abandoned fridge in the street.
The six month mark came a few Mondays ago (at the time of writing) and the day before zooming with both our families together and connecting with super close friends at a distance helped so much. I receive a daily word of-the-day email from dictionary.com, and that day the word was ‘salute’ and the next, ‘celestial’. The 25th was an experience; I listened to the birds and lay in the hammock he loved to swing in, I felt connected...yet far away. But I will always attempt to bridge that gap by shouting a big ‘hellooooo’, and then try and do my best possible celestial salute.
And some more cartoons of a similar ilk. More to come.
Our pilgrimage to the cider bus spot at Glastonbury.