An illustrator has created a powerful slideshow of drawings showing how she coped after her mum’s death, with the aim of helping others who are going through a similar experience.

Emily Catherine created the images and text which portrays how she felt during the first few days and weeks after her mum died suddenly in August.

She then shared a video of the drawings – titled A Sketch of Grief - via her social media accounts.

Emily visited a counsellor after her mother’s death – and hopes her message will encourage people who are grieving loved ones to seek help from a BACP counsellor if they need it.

“I wanted to say to everyone that this is my story.

“It might not be your story, but this is how I have been helped,” she said.

“If it helps just one person, I feel like that will have made a difference.”

Freelance illustrator Emily Catherine
Freelance illustrator Emily Catherine

Emily, 34, is a freelance illustrator specialising in hand drawn and painted artworks, who lives in Nottingham.

She was away from home celebrating her birthday this summer when she became worried because she couldn’t contact her mum.

After getting in touch with other relatives and the police, Emily found out that her mum, who had a history of mental health and alcohol problems, had been found dead at home.

“I got the news as I was haring back on the motorway, trying to get back in time to find her. Since then it’s been really difficult. One of the hardest things was that it was not obvious how she died.

Funeral did not feel right

“There was a long wait for the post-mortem. By the time her funeral happened in September we still did not know how she died. The funeral just did not feel right.”

In early October, Emily, found out that her mum, who was 65, had died from bronchopneumonia, and had been malnourished.

“It was all very sad; a really big shock. As a family, we’d had a lot of deaths.

“As a freelance illustrator my way of dealing with these things was working, drawing, listening to music - and I just wasn’t doing any of those things,” said Emily, whose father had died when she was a small child.

Emily explained how she felt immediately after her mum’s death in the text on her drawings. She wrote:

“At first I was numb. It was a shock. She died too young. I was so numb that I didn’t notice anything but the absence of her.

“Then in the first few weeks I just cried. All I could think about was everything she was missing and how she was.

“I have lots of people around me to support me; giving me lots of love - too many even to draw here. But nothing really makes me feel better.”

Emily had visited a therapist on and off after splitting up with her husband a few years ago.

After her mum’s death, she decided that it was time to visit the therapist again to help her cope with what she was going through.

Counsellor was amazing

“He’s been amazing; really helpful,” she said.

“I started seeing a therapist when I went through a divorce.

“There were a lot of changes in my life. I did not know how to deal with it and I needed some help with that.

“Since then I went occasionally. But after my mum died I called him up and asked if I could see him again.

“I’m quite a practical person. I like to feel like I’m doing something good for myself. To me, going to counselling is like having a spa treatment. You know you’re looking after yourself by doing that.

“The words for the last image I drew are saying to people who are grieving that whatever you’re doing, you’re doing amazing. My counsellor did a lot of telling me that. The first lesson from him seemed to be stop beating yourself up about everything.

Emily and her mum, taken when Emily was a child.

Emily’s video finishes with these powerful words.

“What I’ve learned is that however you feel, it’s normal. Finding a way to be nice to yourself and others is helpful.

“If you are supporting someone who is grieving just keep sending them love and listening. Treat them no differently, but, understand that sometimes they’ll be too sad to make effort like they did and this will last a good while.

“If you are the one who is grieving, I’m so sorry. Keep going, you are doing amazingly.”

 

If you want to seek advice or help about grief or bereavement you can find a BACP counsellor or psychotherapist via the BACP’s Therapist Directory.

 

Find out more about Emily’s work by visiting her website.  

As well as an illustrator, she is an award-winning blogger, lover of Hip Hop and recently ran the ‘Art of Hip Hop Album Cover’ workshops in the city.

Emily’s work reflects on popular culture, the rights of others, social justice and cultural theory.