Now, don’t worry, despite the title of this post, I’m not about to start encouraging you to don a pair of yellow Marigolds and get scrubbing with a rectangle of scratchy foam and some Jif. Believe me, no one ever got to the end of their life, clasped the hand of their nearest and dearest and whispered with a raspy voice, “I wish I’d spent more time shining my taps.”

I like a tidy home and I’m no slob, but when I was flattened by grief I did things such as:

  • Kicked a biscuit under the sofa rather than picking it up.
  • Smashed a Cream Cracker into smithereens under my foot, grinding it into dust which I then flicked around with my foot, rather than Hoover it up.
  • Chucked a ready-meal in the bin because having cooked it I had no appetite, only to fish it out several hours later and eat it cold, with my fingers, my foot still on the pedal of the bin.
  • Kept the ‘last’ sheets on the bed for three months despite the dog with his fox-poo encrusted fur sleeping with me, and when I did eventually manage to prise the sheets from the bed, they stayed in the washing basket for more than TWO YEARS.


So I’m the last person to urge you to start flicking a duster around whilst snorting Mr Sheen.

But I digress.

No, this is more ‘Things I Ought To Tell You About This Blog’ housekeeping. Think of it as the online equivalent of the sort of drawer where you shove everything that hasn’t got a proper home: odd coins; unidentifiable keys; buttons for clothes you’ve long since given away; Tampax ‘mice’ that have escaped from their wrapper and so on. And if you don’t have that sort of drawer, I’m both in awe of you and ashamed of me.

Firstly, grovelling apologies for those who have contacted me via the Planet Grief contact form only for their email to disappear into the ether (or rather, fail to reach Hertfordshire). Technical difficulties entirely of my making meant that it was only a few days ago (Sunday) that I realised that something was amiss. I’ve managed to rectify it, cue masses of emails, some weeks old, chugging into my inbox. I will deal with all of them as speedily as possible, once I’ve got up from the carpet where I’m currently on bended knees sobbing with shame.



Secondly, I know some of you hate Facebook, but do remember that there is a Planet Grief Facebook page should you find it easier to comment on there rather than on the blog. Perusing the Internet for advice about blogging (after more than four years, I still haven’t a clue what I’m doing, the email debacle being proof of my technical failings), many bloggers are now turning the comments feature of their blog OFF because so few people comment this way, preferring to do it via Twitter or Facebook; no blogger wants to look unpopular. Now, I was never one of the popular girls at school – I’ve had fifty-odd years of not being popular – so it doesn’t worry me if I don’t get many comments on a post; I see the blog traffic stats and I know that hundreds more people read the blog than comment. However, if you are not a fan of Facebook or would rather comment anonymously – and many of your stories are deeply personal – then the blog is the place to do it, because remember:


Also, comments on the blog helps those who aren’t on Facebook  to feel less isolated.

Pontification number three: I am on Twitter. I’m @HelenEBailey, but quite frankly, it’s embarrassing how little I know about Twittiquette and how little I contribute. About a year ago I got rid of hundreds of followers because I didn’t know them and so wondered what on earth they were doing following me. Now I understand that to look popular you have to have loads of followers, even if you find yourself being followed by a Nigerian Body Builder who posts pictures of women with muscles where I didn’t know muscles existed. Anyway, basically, I just hang on to the divine Jane Garvey’s every word and lob the odd retweet out there, but if you’re into Twitter, I’m there too. Follow me, just don’t expect any startling revelations.

I hope you haven’t lost the will to live yet, because here is housekeeping point number four: If you have submitted your story to ‘My Story’ to be published on Planet Grief, I’m sorry if your writing hasn’t appeared yet. I have been swamped with heartbreaking tales of love and loss, and if they fit the criteria – i.e. you don’t have a blog of your own – they will be published. And if you do have a blog of your own and you would like me to link to it on Planet Grief and you are able to link back to my blog, please contact me. I don’t want an extensive blogroll – my experience is that a curated number of blogs is better than a huge number because if there is a long list, people tend to just click off in the same way that I instantly lose my appetite when faced with an enormous plate of food, but new writing featured in my existing list would be welcomed.

Number five: The book of the blog When Bad Things Happens in Good Bikinis features some existing blog posts, but also previously unpublished material and newly written material. If you think it would help anyone you know, please buy them a copy or give them your copy. It may be too early in their grief, or as one person wrote, they might just find me a self-pitying sobby mess with nothing to do all day except walk the dog (which didn’t stop them enjoying the book, thank goodness), but the feedback shows that it has comforted many and made them feel less isolated during their sobby, messy grieving.

And finally (still with me?) just a heads up that I shall be publishing a new blog called And Beyond! after Christmas, which will run in tandem with Planet Grief. It will just be a stream of unedited babble about anything I fancy writing about, so, watch this space, or at least watch


Thanks for sticking with me. Life on and off Planet Grief continues to be a rollercoaster for so many of us, but I’m here for you in all my sobby (and gobby) self-pitying glory.

Love, Helen xx


Elizabeth Smyth
Reply November 17, 2015

Happy for you, to read you're moving on to a new website, while (thank you!) retaining this. At 3 years, I can't see any "beyond" - guess being older and an empty nester contributes to this. You were my first widowhood blog to read (and with links to other blogs) and provide comfort, so thank you and God bless! PS- I'm not a Facebook person, so yes please, keep the comments button on both blogs in the ON position for oldies and those who like their privacy (also no Catcha hoops, which I can never circumvent).