I have been processing the loss of love through illustration. Luke was diagnosed with lung cancer in September - but whilst on the third week of his first round of chemotherapy - Luke died unexpectedly of a stroke on the 25th November. It has been a challenge to process after almost five years together, and the previous six as close friends.
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.