Grief Kind podcast with Lottie Tomlinson

For episode two of our second Grief Kind podcast series, Clover Stroud is joined by fellow Sue Ryder Ambassador Lottie Tomlinson, who talks about her personal experience of grief and how being kind to yourself after a bereavement can help you through even the darkest days.

Lottie is looking directly into the camera with a serious face. She's against a neutral backgound.

You have to figure out what makes you happy and helps you in those dark times.

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Lottie says:

“Grief will come and go as different emotions every day. It’s hard enough dealing with grief itself let alone when you’re beating yourself up for it. It’s so important to look after yourself, whether that’s self-care or going for a long walk. It sounds simple, but you have to figure out what makes you happy and helps you in those dark times. 

“The best bit of advice I can give to someone who is grieving is to be kind to themselves. When my mum died, I was very shocked by the level of guilt I felt, particularly in those moments when I had a good day. As the years have passed and I’ve learned to deal with grief better, I’ve realised that allowing yourself to feel happy is really important and you need to celebrate those moments.”

You can read the full transcript further down this page.

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Grief Kind - supporting someone who is grieving

When it comes to something as tough as grief, it can be hard to know what to say or do that might help someone you love. Sue Ryder's Grief Kind campaign can help you support someone who is grieving.

Lottie Tomlinson's full episode transcript


[00:00:07] Clover Stroud: Hello and welcome to the second series of grief kind, a podcast by Sue Ryder, which helps you to support friends and loved ones going through one of the toughest times of their lives. I'm Clover Stroud and in each episode, I'll be talking to someone who, like me, has experienced grief firsthand and who can talk about the support they received. Hopefully each conversation will empower you to be grief kind to avoid clamming up and give your friends and family the love and support they need.


[00:00:43] Clover Stroud: Hi, thanks for listening. In this episode, I'm joined by influencer and entrepreneur Lottie Tomlinson in 2016 Lottie's mum Joanna died of leukaemia and just two years later, the family experienced death again when Lottie's sister Fizz died suddenly. In this interview, Lottie explains how she loves talking about her mum and sister, and how it was a friend who encouraged her to seek therapy. It's a powerful Listen, we really hope you enjoy it.

[00:01:22] Clover Stroud: Lottie, welcome to grief kind. And thank you very much for the opportunity to have this conversation with you. I think these conversations around grief are so so valuable and so important. I wondered whether you could start by telling me a bit about your mum, Joanna and your sister Fizz, what were they like, as women? What were they like growing up?

[00:01:46] Lottie Tomlinson: Well, I just remember my mom as being someone that Ialways looked up to, because she had me and six other kids. And she also had a full time job as a midwife. So I just remember her doing nights, and then she'd comeback and look after us all. And she did that so that we could all do everything we wanted to do. So we were all in clubs, dance, sports, we all did everything. And she made sure that we could do all that by working all the shifts that she could get offered. So I feel like that's always been something that I remember of her. And that's what I really respect her for and we were just her life and kids were her life. That's why she was a midwife. She wanted to bring life into the world and help people do that, and then wanted a load of kids herself. So that's really what stands out. When I remember my mom, she was just very selfless.

[00:02:36] Clover Stroud: Lottie your mom sounds like a really incredible woman to have had so many children and a big family and to be doing such an important job. And she was obviously very loving and nurturing to provide you with all of that as well and a real inspiration and tell me a bit about your sister as well.

[00:02:55] Lottie Tomlinson: I think my sister was a really unique character. And we always, you know, we were quite close in age. So we kind of had a bit of a sister rivalry growing up, then we really became best friends when we got a bit older. And I think she was a lot like my mom, I think my mom and her really were close. She was really intelligent, really caring. And she was just one of a kind of, you know what I mean.

[00:03:20] Clover Stroud: What was the age difference between you?

[00:03:23] Lottie Tomlinson: So there's two years, so we were pretty close. So it was kind of the growing up. It was like stealing the clothes, you know, normal sister stuff. But then we kind of understood as we got older, how valuable the relationship was, I think when you're a child, you don't always realise that your siblings are so precious. And that's the best friends that you're gonna have in your life. So I think as we got older, we really realised that and it's just a shame that that got cut short for us.

[00:03:54] Clover Stroud: So let's talk a bit about how this happened. I suppose you were just a teenager when your  mum was diagnosed. Can you tell us a little bit aboutthat time, about the time of her diagnosis? Her illness?

[00:04:08] Lottie Tomlinson: Yeah, so I remember getting a call when I was 18 or 17and got told she had leukaemia but that she would be okay. And we were always under the impression that she would be okay. And now I've kind of come to realise that the leukaemia that she had wasn't really something that you could really get better from, but I think she always was so determined to try and fight it as much as she could, she would never, she was never going to admit to the fact that there was a low survival rate so we kind of always had hope that she would get through it and she went straight down to London to get the best care. She was in hospital down here straight away. You know, as soon as she got diagnosed, I think she got driven to the hospital that night, but then it was really quick from diagnosis to her passing so it's just hard to see her deteriorate so quick.

[00:05:03] Clover Stroud: I believe it was about eight months, was it from diagnosis to when she actually died? Yeah. So did you have an opportunity to sort of talk to her about that at all? Or were you, was she always very much in sort of fighting mode and fighting the disease?

[00:05:18] Lottie Tomlinson: I think for a good part of the illness, it wasn't spoken about, it was just kind of, we were trying to get her better and that was the main focus. And then, you know, in the last few months, when it was becoming quite apparent that she was really ill. And none of the transfusions and all the rest of the treatment, when that kind of wasn't working, I think there was a few conversations that started happening. But it was just obviously, for a family and for a mother to try and tell her kids, you know, young children that she's deteriorating, it was so hard. And I think she still didn't accept it right up until the end, I think she felt if she started having these conversations that she might not get better, then it was kind of tempting that onto herself. So I think she avoided that for a long, long time of her illness just because she still wanted to fight as much as she could. And that was just what she was like.

[00:06:16] Clover Stroud: And in the sort of immediate aftermath of her death. How did you all as siblings, did you all pull together and support each other? It must have been an incredibly difficult time for that you're all so young, and there was so many of you as well, everybody's needs coming together?

[00:06:34] Clover Stroud: Yes. I think it's a real testament to what an amazing mum, your mum was that she kept you really bonded, because grief can you know, it can shatter families as well. And the fact that you've remained really close supporting each other is, is really beautiful. Can you tell me a little bit about the note that your mum, I know that you've got one of your most treasured possessions is a note that she wrote to you. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

[00:06:34] Lottie Tomlinson: Yeah, I think in the days and months after my mom passed, it was just so surreal. And you felt like you were living in this nightmare, I suppose. And it was just, you kind of just taking each day as it comes. And there was obviously young siblings involved where I was the oldest girl. So I kind of felt that it was my role to step in and try and be the mother figure to them. Because the little ones were only two when my mom passed. So you know, they were still needing full attention and care. So I moved back into the family home to help look after them. And we all just rallied around each other. And I think as much as it was, like horrendous and it's the worst thing we've ever been through, when you look back, it's also strengthened us so much, because we're, you know, we all had to look after each other. And I feel like that's something that's carried on, you know, even now we're all so close. And we're such a solid kind of bond now because of that. So you kind of have to try and take positive bits from the experience.

[00:08:03] Lottie Tomlinson: Yeah. So I mean, I've always been quite sentimental. And I feel like that's something my mom instilled in me as well. I've always saved things. And now I'm so grateful that I did that, because I've got this box. And it's got stuff in it that my mom wrote to me, and that stuff now obviously means so much more now that she's not here. But yeah, I've got a little, I mean, I've got a few things, but I think I've posted one of them. And it's just a note that she wrote me, I think on one of my birthdays, and it's just now that is so precious. And it's always been something I've done, but it obviously means a lot more now that she's gone, because that's kind of what I've got left.

[00:08:39] Clover Stroud: Absolutely, that sort of actually a kind of tangible, something to hold on to, sort of message from her that kind of thing becomes just so important and valuable. I know the messages I've got from my sister who died in 2019 are just like, really, really treasured. I know that just two years after your mum died then Fizz died, as well. Can you tell me a little bit about the days after that and dealing with grief, you know, your mom and your sister within such a short space of time of one another that must have been very, very hard for you.

[00:09:19] Lottie Tomlinson: Yeah, I think when Fizz died, it was obviously such a shock. And it was like a disbelief that we were gonna go through this again. You know, kind of felt like we were just coming through the other side of losing my mom, you know, it's even two years, it's still very fresh, but you're kind of finding your feet a little bit again with life and kind of accepting it. And then for that to happen again. It was it was just shocking. But at the same time it kind of felt. I don't know it's hard because you've got this experience of the first grief. So you kind of got a little bit of a head start on how to deal with it. But then at the same time you've got double to deal with, so yeah, I think happening in such a short space of time was just a shock. And it kind of just felt like the world was against us. It was like, how, why is this happening again, you know, and, we'd all kind of tried to come together and deal with it. And it's like you say it can break some families, I feel like she dealt with it, you know, harder than us. And you know, when the centre of your family gets taken out of the equation, that's what my mom was, you're kind of building it back up to try and do what she did, which was keep the family together. So to lose Fizz so soon after, it just felt like such a blow and it kind of felt like where is this going to end?

[00:10:43] Clover Stroud: yes. Yeah, I know that feeling exactly. It just feels sort of relentless. The amount of tragedy and trauma we're dealing with definitely. I'm really interested by you saying that you had a bit of, when you're dealing with grief a second time you kind of have a bit of a head start, you slightly know, what's going to happen, I suppose the process do you think that helped you in some way? Or do you think it also can sometimes feel like the fact that you're going through it again, is even more daunting? Or do you feel as though there was a sense that when you've gone through grief once, there is a kind of understanding around it, maybe some knowledge that you build up I suppose each time it happens?

[00:11:25] Lottie Tomlinson: Yeah, I think at first, it's like, quite daunting, because you know, those early days, you know how hard they are and you know how painful they are. And you know how much of a long process it is, so it kind of felt like it put us back to day one, kind of felt like we were going full circle and everything that we'd built up to help us deal with the grief had just been cancelled out. But then, as time went on, you know, we've been through the worst thing ever, which was losing mom. And obviously, then we've had it again, but it's almost like if Fizz had died, and mum had never died, it's hard to kind of word but it's like, we knew how it felt. And nothing could be worse than the loss of my mom. So you kind of know that the feelings are not going to be worse than that, and you've dealt with them already. And you've survived that. I think that's the thing, like we'd obviously got through that, like, through some miracle, you know, you don't think you're gonna get through at the time, but then a couple years down the line you do. So I think having that in your head that we knew we've survived the loss of my mom, we knew we could get through this as well.

[00:12:32] Clover Stroud: It's very unusual to be in your late teens, early 20s. And to have lost your mum and your sister, how did you feel amongst...and grief itself, you know, at any age, I think can be very, very lonely. And that's one of the things that's quite shocking about it. How did you feel amongst your peer group and your friends? Did you feel like they could relate to you? And you could relate to them? Were they supportive? How was their reaction?

[00:12:59] Lottie Tomlinson: I think everyone tries to be as supportive as they can. But then you do have this feeling of loneliness, because really, unless someone's experienced the exact same thing, which not many people have, you're not going to be able to relate to people and you kind of you almost feel a bit like the odd one out because everyone you know, at my age, they've got their moms they've got the families, they're not dealing with this awful thing that's happened so you kind of you know, and there's lots of life revolves around that, especially at that age, you know, your parents and you, you're talking to your mom and that stuff. So I think it makes you feel a little bit like an outsider in a way and like you say, a lot of grief is loneliness. I think that's why it gets so heavy, because you just feel like you're on your own with it. But yeah, I think people obviously have been so supportive and helped me through that. But like you say, there is also this big, like, there's just this big thing in your head that you just don't feel like everyone else anymore.

[00:13:58] Clover Stroud: Yeah, and I think that kind of goes on as well, that feeling of a separation. And I found as I've got older, that I mean I'm 48 now but then as you get older, more people start losing their parents, it becomes more normal but and I lost my mum when I was very young as well. And it is I think you feel very sort of separate from your contemporaries. And that feeling of the world just carrying on completely oblivious and you're dealing with this big, big, big grief. It's a lot. Let's talk about what was helpful and what was less helpful because I think passing on the information that we have to other people and hopefully listeners will be able to hear this. This could help people I think about the kinds of things that do help but in the aftermath of your mum's death, did you get any kind of counselling or therapy was anything like that helpful to you?

[00:14:54] Lottie Tomlinson: So when my mom died, there was never any conversations about getting any help. And looking back, that was quite shocking to me. And I talk about it quite a lot. But, you know, especially the fact that she had cancer. So it was a medical illness and we were surrounded by a lot of medical professionals, and there was young children involved, and there didn't seem to be any sit down conversations where it was like, do we want to sort out getting some help, so I never had anything when I lost my mom, it was only when I lost my sister that I thought, you know, she ended up losing her life, she might have been okay, if she would have got the help she needed. So that became very apparent to me in my head. And I was like right I need to make sure, you know, although I feel like I can cope with it on my own, why don't I just get some help, so that it will give me a head start almost, just to try it. And I think it was recommended to me by a friend. They were like I get this therapy, and it's just talking, and it's once a week, and it's really good. And I was thinking, Well, I got through my mom's death, I don't really think I need it, but I'll give it a go. I think that's something that I always try to encourage people to do. Just give it a go. If you don't like it, you've tried it. And that's that, but I think people will be shocked how much of a difference it makes and how much you can get from it. I think the therapy that I got when I lost my sister, it made the experience of grief, completely different. And it's just that time to just get your emotions out just once a week for an hour, it makes such a difference to you mentally.

[00:16:30] Clover Stroud: So would you really recommend to people, I know Sue Ryder offers free grief counselling, which I think is an incredible service, would you recommend that to people to find somebody to talk to?

[00:16:41] Lottie Tomlinson: 100% I think that's one of the main reasons why I got involved with Sue Ryder in the first place because once I dealt with my mom's grief on my own, and it was painful, and a long journey, and it was a scary journey. And then I dealt with the loss of my sister and I got the counselling. And it made it a lot easier. And I actually felt that it was a less painful and long process. And I got a lot more out of the therapy as well, not just the grief kind of counselling, we kind of went through everything, I dealt with my mom's loss. And there was a lot of stuff that I hadn't dealt with from that. And I think if it wasn't for my sister dying I would have never properly dealt with that stuff. And I don't think I'd be at the place I'm at now. So that's why I wanted to get involved with Sue Ryder in the first place. Because I know the services they offer. And I know how hard it can be for some people to get that help. So I thought, you know, I wanted to be able to recommend something to peopleand try and help people because I think not all people are lucky enough to get to the place that I've got with my grief and to deal with it and be able to live a happy life, and I just want to try and even if I can help one person get to that stage then that's what I want to do.

[00:17:56] Clover Stroud: Yeah, no, I really agree. You were talking earlier about supporting your younger siblings, and you obviously had very much younger siblings. Did you feel in the aftermath of your mom's death? Did you feel as though there was space for your grief? Or did you feel as if you were having to support your siblings and your family? What was the dynamic there?

[00:18:23] Lottie Tomlinson: Yeah, I think in a lot of ways, it did me a favour because it helped me put my grief into something and not just sit there and kind of get swallowed up by it. So I was able to kind of channel that grief into right, I need to be there for my siblings, but it wasn't like a conscious decision. That was just something that kicked in in me. It's like the maternal instincts that we all have because of my mom, you know, my mom was so maternal, and I think she's passed that on to all of us. So it was just like an animal instinct, you know, I mean, it was like, right, I need to step up now, I need to look at them kids that, you know, they're young, they're innocent, they're losing their mom. And they need someone and I'm going to be that person. And that's just what I did. And it wasn't even like, I sat there and thought, right, I need to do this. It just happened. It's like an instinct.

[00:19:16] Clover Stroud: Right? And then when you sought counselling, after Fizz's death, was there a specific incident or tipping point or a single moment that sort of made you realise that you needed professional help? Or was it a friend, you mentioned a friend suggesting it?

[00:19:35] Lottie Tomlinson: Yeah, it was just originally it was just a friend suggesting it and she done some counselling and she said, why don't you just try it? And I thought do you know what I probably should. I think the main motivation for me doing it was I don't want my family to go through this again, and I was so scared of anything else happening to the family, you know, we've just been through these two tragedies, it makes you think it's going to happen again, what else is gonna happen? So I wanted to make sure that they don't have to deal with anything like that with me. So I thought, you know what, I'll try it and I'll get myself as strong as I can be mentally for them. And once I've done it luckily I really got a lot from it. And I really bonded with my therapist, and I still speak to her even now, you know, we don't obviously do weekly sessions anymore, but I still catch up with her quite regularly. And it's just, it completely changed my view on all of that stuff, because I never thought it was something that would ever help. And I know a lot of people have that opinion, you know, they think how can sitting down and talking to someone for an hour help me deal with the loss of someone, and that's how I felt as well, I thought, I can't understand how that's going to help me. But it's really hard to explain, it's just so good for your head and your mind to be able to vent to someone for an hour who's not got an opinion or they're out of the situation, and there's no back and forth, I think that's something that makes it helpful, it's just you being able to put everything on to someone without having to receive stuff back. You know, you can speak to friends and that's great, but it's like a two way thing, this is just all for you. And they can focus on helping you and you can focus on getting everything out that you need to get out. And that's it.

[00:21:27] Clover Stroud: Yeah, I think it's really true and really relevant that feeling of like a space to go and sort of feel your grief in and live your grief in and to cry and scream and be angry or be broken, all those you know, because then you have to go back out and maybe you're looking after your younger siblings or looking after kids or going to do a job. It's very difficult that balancing how to sort of find the space to feel sad and feel angry and then to carry on with normal life. And I suppose therapy gives you that space. Do you feel that time, because some people like the phrase time is a healer, some people don't like it I personally think that time does, really you know it changes the shape and the weight of your grief in some way or another? How do you feel as though your relationship with the amount of time that's passed since your mom and your sister died? Has that helped you?

[00:22:24] Lottie Tomlinson: Yes, I remember first I hated the saying and I remember thinking, how does time help and in the first few years, I didn't feel like it helped, I felt like it was just more time had passed between seeing the person. But then as more years have gone by, I really can understand now how that is helpful. And it's completely changed everything time, you know, six years since our mom died now. And that's not even that long. But for me, everything's different, you know, I've been able to accept what's happened. I think that's a big thing, I think until you can accept it in your head is going to be really hard to deal with. I've been able to accept it and kind of make peace with it and understand ways to deal with it. And obviously doing my work with Sue Ryder and doing what I do that's helped me loads to help my grief because to feel like I'm going to help someone with my story makes it a little bit more worthwhile what I had to go through. So I'm reluctant to say that to people, sometimes, you know, the times a healer phrase, just because I know how much it used to bother me. But really it is true.

[00:23:33] Clover Stroud: Yeah, I think there is reassurance in that. And I totally agree with you that feeling to start with like, no amount of time is going to make this any better. But it's as if the rest of life sort of the momentum of life moving forward is a very kind of incredible and beautiful thing in many ways, isn't it and sort of new things revealing themselves? Was there a specific person apart from your therapist, but like, I don't know, one of your mom's friends or your sister's friends or your wider family? Was there somebody specifically around who helped you in the years after your mom and your sister passed on? Was there a person who was particularly important?

[00:24:14] Lottie Tomlinson: I think my Nan has always been really important in all of this. She's my mom's mom and she stepped up to look after my siblings when my mom passed away. And she's so much like my mom so she's more you know, she's kind of what I've got left of her and she's obviously why my mum was how she was and then my mom is why we are how we are, so having my nan there is just at least means that we've got a little piece of my mom with us still, which is amazing. It's so important and we're all so close with her.

[00:24:52] Clover Stroud: So spending time with her and do you talk about your mom and kind of celebrate your mom with with her in certain ways?

[00:25:01] Lottie Tomlinson: yeah. So, at anniversaries and birthdays, we all get together, we all go there, my nan lives up north. So that's like our family home. So we'll go back up and visit and we celebrate all them, you know, the milestones, and those anniversaries and those days, we always make sure that we're together on them days, which is really nice. And it's just a way that we can celebrate and remember, my mom and my sister.

[00:25:24] Clover Stroud: I mean, just thinking about ways that this conversation might help other people who are listening who are supporting someone else, what was the most sort of helpful or unhelpful thing that happened to you in the first weeks, months, years of your grief? Was there anything that you could say, oh, this really helps, or really don't do that, you know, that it might be some useful advice to somebody.

[00:25:53] Lottie Tomlinson: I think what I always go back to is just bringing it up. And that was my slogan on one of our campaigns. And I feel like, it's the only thing I can say that I found helpful. A lot of the time, it was, let's not talk about it, we don't want to upset her but for me, I always wanted the space to be able to talk about it. Because without it being mentioned, it's kind of just like the elephant in the room. And, you know, people don't bring up their moms because I've lost my mom. But really, I still want to be able to talk about my mom, just because she's not here doesn't mean I don't have a mom at all. You know, I've still got a mom and I've still got them memories, and I still want to be involved in conversations about their mom, so I think, bringing it up as well as something that, people can give you the space and kind of just ask, do you want to talk about anything? You know, one day, you might say, I don't really want to talk about it today, I feel fine. Or, you know, you might want to have a little cry, or you might want to have a little chat about it. So I think, but I completely understand people that don't want to bring it up. You know, I feel like I probably was guilty of that before. You know, you don't want to upset someone you think, Oh, I don't want to say anything. But I think that's why I just try and encourage people, from my experiences just to bring it up. See if you want to talk about it, if not, fine. If you do, then give the person that space to talk.

[00:25:53] Lottie Tomlinson: I think it's interesting, people are worried about upsetting you, but then you feel I can't really be more upset than I am. And I want the opportunity to talk about the people I love that I've lost. I think that's a really, really important piece of advice, actually. What do you wish that your friends or your family had known about what you were experiencing? Do you wish that there'd been more sort of understanding of what you were going through?

[00:27:48] Lottie Tomlinson: I think people just, all they can do is support you the best they can, it's hard, I always say that there's not really a wrong thing to say, you don't have to be qualified, you don't have to know the exact terminology. It's just bringing it up being caring, asking how someone is it just goes a long way. It doesn't have to be like a big qualified thing about you know, grief or loss or anything. It's just being there and saying, are you okay? Do you want to talk about it? Things that are that simple, they just go a long way? And I think that's all people can do. Even though I've experienced loss when someone else has lost someone, I still feel oh, can I say this? Can I say that? And then I just think now what would I want to hear? I would just want to hear how are you doing? Can I do anything? Do you want to talk about it? And it's just that simple? I think starting with the basics, if you just keep that in your head, the basics, just checking in on someone asking how they are keeping it simple asking if there's anything you can do that I think that means the most to people when they're in that situation?

[00:28:55] Clover Stroud: Yeah, definitely. What about, you know, you've got a big public profile? How has it been grieving? In the public eye as well? Has that? Has it had a positive effect? Or has it been? Has it made it harder?

[00:29:08] Lottie Tomlinson: Well I think you're obviously under a microscope aren't you. So I remember the early days, things we were doing would get judged. And that was quite hard to deal with, you know, if you went out it'd be why they are and but really, what I always say is I only see it as a positive now because we had so much support. So those few comments that might have affected us for a moment. They don't compare to the support that we've received. And our fan base is so big, you know, my brothers fan base, and they obviously take an interest in us now, and they're so invested in him and us and they kind of feel that loss with us, you know, and you can tell how much people care and I think we've always found a lot of comfort from that. So really, I only ever see it as a positive thing. You know, I don't look back and think. And I guess we didn't, we don't know any different. You know, by the time my mom passed away, we'd been in the public eye for quite a few years. So it kind of, has always felt quite normal to us. And we kind of have had to adapt to that life of dealing with stuff in the public eye anyway. So really all I look back on it and think now was the support was really nice. And we still get that support now, which has been quite a comforting thing for us, really.

[00:30:29] Clover Stroud: And I found Instagram a very useful place, it's a place to connect with people, and you can find different pages, which are specifically devoted to different ways we grieve and offering support there. And also people just, you know, the conversations you can have with other people, and you realise that we're all linked, and we're all going to experience grief in some way as well. It's a very sort of uniting experience. Have you found Instagram and social media to be helpful in dealing with your grief?

[00:30:58] Lottie Tomlinson: Yeah, I think obviously, it's given me a platform to, work with Sue Ryder and to help people and to do our campaigns and push that, and one of the most common messages that I receive is people saying that my work that I've done with Sue Ryder has helped them and talking about my grief has helped them and that obviously means so much to me, and it's quite surprising sometimes because you do what you can, but you don't also expect that it's going to help that many people and when I go through my messages, it's often people telling me their story and telling me that my work has helped them and talking about it, the way I do has helped them and obviously, that just means a lot, you'll know that from the work you do, but being able to just help even one person or a handful of people, it just it almost gives your experiences a reason, a purpose it makes it more worthwhile what I had to go through if it can help people now.

[00:32:01] Clover Stroud: Yeah, I definitely agree with that. That feeling of like, it's not just for nothing, you know, it was not all this loss and pain for nothing. And it connects us as humans, and we can help one another. And that's a beautiful thing, actually, isn't it?

[00:32:16] Lottie Tomlinson: Yeah, yeah it is

[00:32:18] Clover Stroud: Last year you became a mom yourself. And you are mum to your absolutely gorgeous little boy, Lucky, who is just I love looking at him on Instagram. He's just so sweet, the videos of you interacting with him. He's just you can just see the love between you, it's absolutely beautiful, beautiful to witness and I'm grateful to you for sharing that. How did his arrival I suppose, kind of affect or change your relationship with grief and the grieving process?

[00:32:51] Lottie Tomlinson: Well I've wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember, I've always been one of them people that, you know, has been excited to be a mom. And you know, I think that comes a lot from my mom, she had my brother when she was only 19. So she was always really keen to have kids and coming from a big family I think that also makes you want to have children and have that for yourself. So when I fell pregnant with Lucky, I was so excited and so happy. And I feel like that's kind of what I've been waiting for. I'd gone through all this grief and I felt like that was kind of now my time to be happy and to get that love back. But at the same time it obviously comes with challenges when you know you don't have your mom there as a young girl going through her first pregnancy and being a mom entering motherhood. That was hard to do that without her and especially because she knew how much I wanted to be a mom. So she kind of knew what it would mean to me when I got that. So it did come with its own challenges. But at the same time, I feel very close to her now because her firstborn was a boy as well. And I feel like I'm kind of experiencing what she's experienced because I know how much she always wanted to be a mom. And I know when I look at Lucky I kind of feel like I'm in her shoes a little bit because I know she must have had them feelings towards Louiswhen he was born. And it's funny because Lucky actually looks a lot like Louis did when he was a baby. If you look at the pictures compared it's quite scary how alike they are. So it's just funny because it almost feels like I'm kind of stepping in her shoes in a way which is quite a nice feeling.

[00:34:36] Clover Stroud: Yes, it's like a continuation of your relationships with each other and that feeling of the love I suppose that's at the heart of everything that also binds us together. I feel that really strongly with my kids is I also really wanted to be a mom and I did find it difficult having children without her around. At times really really hard. You just want your mom to be there so much to witness what's going on, don't you and also for the support. So you talked to her a lot about being a mom, when you were a little girl yourself as well?

[00:35:10] Lottie Tomlinson: Yes, she knew how much I wanted to be a mom. It was always something that we spoke about. And it was actually something that she said,  you know, we didn't have many conversations when she was ill. But towards the end, like I said, earlier, there was a few conversations had and one of them was actually her voicing that she was sad that she would never get to see me have a baby. And I think that's a conversation that's always stuck with me. So, you know, I know how much she wanted to be here for this. And it's just, you know, that you feel like you've been robbed of that, because you just want your mom to see your children, don't you and, and you know how much they would have loved it. I think you then have to come to terms with it again, you know, like I said earlier, so a lot about acceptance, and you can kind of get to a point where you accept it. But now I feel like I'm dealing with having to try and accept that she's not a part of, you know, Lucky's life, and she hasn't experienced this with me. So I feel like it's kind of reinstated that battle for me to try and have to accept that now. Which is hard.

[00:36:20] Clover Stroud: What about anniversaries and things like that? How do you mark I know they're very, I mean, for me, they can be really tricky. Their birthdays, or the actual day that you know, when it's like the anniversary of their death? How do you mark those kinds of days? Do you shy away from them? Or do you sort of embrace them? What do you do?

[00:36:39] Lottie Tomlinson: Well, we go every year, we make sure that we go up north, so we spend the day at my nan's and she does a nice spread, and we celebrate, so we've always been the type of people to celebrate it. And I think obviously, it's hard to say celebrate, it doesn't feel like something that you should celebrate, but we try and see it as an opportunity to celebrate them as people rather than, you know, looking at it as the day that she died, or, you know, it's obviously you're gonna get that feeling, you know, it's it, ultimately it is the day that that you lost them. But at the same time, it has to try and become about rallying together and celebrating their life rather than, you know, there's going to be tears, there's going to be conversations, and that it's sad, because of course it is, but we try and make it more into a celebration than a sad day.

[00:37:31] Clover Stroud: Yeah, it can be a really beautiful day actually can't it even despite the sadness, because of the sadness, it's there's something like really profound about it. I mean, it's really lovely talking to you about all of this. And I wonder whether there's the one piece of advice, or the main piece of advice that you would give to someone wanting to support a family member or a friend, or maybe even somebody they know, online as well through bereavement, how can we help each other?

[00:38:01] Lottie Tomlinson: Well, I always think that the best bit of advice I can give to someone that's grieving is just to be kind to yourself. And I think it sounds really simple. But I was quite shocked at, you know, the guilt and the way you spent, I spent quite a lot of time in my grief, beating myself up for how I felt. So if I was having a day where I felt happy, I'd beat myself up for that. And I'd think no, you can't be happy. And then if I have a day where I want to stay in bed, and I can't get out of bed, I beat myself up for that. But I think as the years have passed, and I've got, you know, I've kind of dealt with the grief better, I've realised that allowing yourself that day to feel happy, you need that you need to celebrate them times. And then if you have a day that you feel like you can't get out of bed, give yourself that allow yourself, don't beat yourself up because grief is, is going to be different emotions every day. And it's hard enough the grief itself without you beating yourself up on top of that. So I think it is so important to just look after yourself as well you know, that little bit, whatever it is, self care, however it is, go for a long walk, do something sounds simple, but you've got to kind of figure out the stuff that makes you happy and helps you in them times of darkness and just do that and make sure no one kind of gets in your way of looking after yourself. And you can help other people by encouraging them to do the same. So just telling people, don't beat yourself up for how you feel. Allow yourself to feel how you feel and encouraging them to do so that that helps them in any way.

[00:39:41] Clover Stroud: Are there any little things that you do like, I don't know, candles in the hot bath or running or something you cook Are there any sort of actual physical things that you recommend that have been helpful to you?

[00:39:54] Lottie Tomlinson: I've really turned to exercise since you know since this stuff and I I know everyone says it. And at first I was like, How can going for a run help? You know, help me help me with this. I thought that's ridiculous. But it actually does. And it's like giving yourself you know, it clears your head. It's weird. I'm not sure how it does it, but it just does. And having something like that to focus on, even if it's just one bit of exercise a day doesn't have to be a crazy gym class, it could just be a walk outside in the fresh air, it actually does really help.

[00:40:35] Clover Stroud: Yes, and those little especially I think in the first bit, those little steps, like going for a little walk or making yourself a really nice cup of tea. It could be something as simple as that.

[00:40:45] Lottie Tomlinson: Yeah, really kind of, a bar chocolate, like, honestly, little things like that. You just have to. And that's what I mean, like, just allow yourself, be kind to yourself, if you need to go and eat a bar chocolate to comfort yourself, do it, you know, it's I think it's easy to just think, oh, I shouldn't be feeling like this, or I shouldn't be laying in bed today. And I should be getting up. And you just have to allow yourself to feel the emotions, because emotions are so temporary, you know, you might feel like that one day and the next day, be open out and feeling amazing. So I think you just what I've learned over the years is just appreciate and feel the emotions that you feel daily. And I think that, that helps you a lot.

[00:41:27] Clover Stroud: Yeah, I think that's really, really wise advice, that knowledge that the emotions are temporary, because when you're feeling terrible, you think this is gonna be forever, this is my life forever, I'm never gonna feel better and knowing that every feeling that we have passes on, and every feeling changes is such an important thing. I think, to hold on to if we can, it's been really, really lovely talking to you, Lottie, thank you very, very much. Is there anything else that you would like to add about? You know, which might be helpful in any way at all? Is there anything else you would like to say, around grieving or living, or, you know, kind of moving forward, that could be helpful?

[00:42:08] Lottie Tomlinson: I think probably just, I just want to give someone you know, that's listening, that might think there's no light at the end of the tunnel. I'm proof that you can get through tragic things and actually live a happy life, you know, I lost my mom. And I thought that was it, I thought my life will never be the same. And it won't be the same in a lot of ways. But I've, I've come through it and I live a really happy life. And, you know, I've got amazing things, I've got a family and there is a way, there's always a way to get through it. And I think that's why I work, you know, and try and help people realise that because it was something that I was sure that I would never get. I thought I would never live a happy life again. I remember the days, the months, you know, even probably the first few years, I thought my life was ruined. And I think it's so common. And of course you're going to feel like that when you lose someone so close. But I just want to show people that I'm proof. And I suppose we both are that you can live a happy life. And you don't have to let the tragedy define you.

[00:43:14] Clover Stroud: Absolutely. No, that's really, really good advice. Thank you very, very much Lottie. It's really, really, really nice to have the opportunity to talk about this.


[00:43:30] Clover Stroud: Grief is different for everybody. There's no one size fits all approach, but you don't need a degree in counselling to help a loved one who's grieving. It is about the personal support you can offer, which should always be led by what feels right for the grieving person. The most important thing is to ensure that no one has to go through it alone. To get more information on how to help grieving friends and relatives go to And don't forget to follow us on your favourite podcast app to get the next episode as soon as it's ready. I'm Clover Stroud. Grief Kind is a Bengo Media production for Sue Ryder.



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Grief Kind
With the right help, we can learn to live with grief. Find out how Sue Ryder can help you to become Grief Kind and support people you care about who are coping with grief.
View over the shoulder of a man watching one of Sue Ryder's Grief Kind classes on a laptop
Grief Kind classes
A series of five short video tutorials giving advice on what grief is like and how you can support others who are grieving, as part of our Grief Kind campaign.
The support bereaved people say is most helpful
There are lots of ways you can support a bereaved person. These are things people have told us they found most helpful after their loved one died.