reports2022/06/06

How Grief Helped Me Launch A Fashion Brand

by Jacqueline Farrow

Losing my Nan was devastating, but I guess it’s not unusual to lose someone in their 80’s. I had Mum to grieve with and she took a lot of the heavy weight from me. We managed together. Losing Mum was different. I was midway through my university degree, and it felt like the floor had been ripped from beneath my feet. My solid rock of support and security was gone, I was falling, and needed the world to hit pause. I had lost the most important person in my life quite suddenly, yet the world carried on around me as though nothing significant had happened.

I finished my degree, sold my childhood home, left my job and moved cities to live with my boyfriend. Two months later the pandemic hit, we entered the first lockdown and it felt like the world had finally paused. For the first time since Mum had passed, I was able to be still with my own thoughts and it felt like the world was doing the same.

After quitting the 9-5 rat race, I didn’t want to go back. As an adult you might be lucky to get a bereavement week from work, then you’re expected to pack up the grief into a little box and get on with it quietly. You’re expected to have dealt with it, be over it and carry on as though everything is normal. Grief doesn’t work like that though. There are both good and bad days and it’s difficult to plan for the bad ones. Sometimes all it takes is a particular scent or sound and it feels like you’ve been punched in the stomach. Imagine trying to explain to my next employer that although my Mum passed away 3 years ago, someone had just walked past wearing her perfume and I now need to go home, crawl into bed and cry. I’m sure that would go down well!

I needed a job that would allow me the time to have a bad day if needed. Does a job like that even exist? So, I channelled my grief into creating my own and started researching and setting up my fashion brand, WKND Apparel. I enjoy being creative and so designing the brand and the clothing became a method of coping. Strangely I already felt so far out of my comfort zone without my Mum that I threw myself into the business with hardly a second thought. In a comforting way I wasn’t only building the brand for me and my future, but it felt like my Mum was still there pushing me forwards and I was making her proud.

Grief is uncomfortable. Not just for the person grieving but everyone around them. We don’t get taught how to deal with our own grief let alone anyone else’s. By any measure my life is good, I run my own business, I live with my boyfriend and have a pug called Bilbo, but I can’t move on from the grief. For me, I can only move forward with it and try to make room for it as I go.

I think about the future a lot and the life milestones yet to come without her. I still get moments when I go to text or call her followed immediately by the heaviest weight in my chest when I realise that I can’t. Sleepless nights reading articles from others dealing with grief and searching Google for “things to make grief easier” are all too common for me. It makes me feel a little less crazy and alone though and that’s my inspiration for writing this.  A chance to share even a little of what I’ve gone through in the hope it may help someone else.

Sadly, the majority of us will experience loss at some point in our lives. So, if you’re out there wondering when it gets easier or when you should have moved on, know that you aren’t alone.  I’m still learning how to deal with it every day. It will always be with me, but it’s created who I am today. Although I will never see my Mum again, it’s because of her that I’ve been able to build my own business and for that, I’ll be forever grateful.

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