I’ve had a down day today. I’ve had some feedback that has knocked my confidence. And I’ve seen a lot of crap news about crowds flocking to the beaches like there is no killer virus on the loose, plus plenty of other doomscroll downers. And I’ve eaten a whole big bag of cheese and chilli crisps for comfort.
Then there was this…
Two days ago, I started a new book: ‘When Bad Things Happen in Good Bikinis: Life After Death and a Dog Called Boris’. It is about how UK author Helen Bailey coped with grief after her husband drowned in front of her while they were on holiday in Barbados in 2011. (The book is adapted from her excellent Planet Grief blog which has provided comfort to others who have lost partners and loved ones.)
After a few chapters, I started to care about Helen and wondered how she was getting on now. Did she find love again? I typed in my search query like Google looking for happier news.
That’s when I found out that, in 2016, she had been murdered by her partner, along with her beloved dog, both of them stuffed into a cesspit deep below her home. Poor Helen had been targeted by a predator who spotted her widow’s vulnerability and proceeded to smother her in a ‘love bomb’ to manipulate her out of her money. He killed her once she had changed her will so that he would inherit. He is currently serving a life sentence.
I mean… where do you even begin?
Of course, we all know how the lockdown has been a different kind of nightmare for some, forced into isolation with their abusers. The increase in domestic abuse all over the world has been described by the UN as a "shadow pandemic" alongside coronavirus.
Here in the UK, domestic abuse killings have more than doubled during lockdown, with at least 16 suspected domestic abuse killings in the UK between 23 March and 12 April alone. That there is a project called ‘Counting Dead Women’, who researched the figures, is also heartbreaking.
What can I do but post a helpline and hope that it reaches someone who reads this and needs access to support and a way out.
I've had to stop reading Helen's book – it's just too hard knowing what happened to read things like her advice to 'stay safe'. She even meets her killer in the book, write about how great he is and dedicates the book to him, to her 'happy ending'. It's too awful.
Today I am thankful for someone to tell my small-fry woes to.
I feel better as a result and I'm now heading out to meet a friend for an allotment sunset, together with a frozen margarita from Anjuna Lounge (please support them if you're local – they opened just before lockdown so have been hit hard – and they make a great coconut daal. Order pickups via Facebook or Instagram.)
Commission/hire me: fiona [at] fionacullinan.com