Amy Molloy: How art can come from grief
amy molloy

First time Fringer Amy Molloy, who has been rated by Alan Rickman as a “great, courageous young talent”, is performing in TeaSet by Gina Moxley (a previous Fringe First winner).

She is hoping to raise awareness of the effects of isolation on people’s mental health, particularly the elderly, with this powerful play, and here she recalls how saying goodbye to a loved one led her to Edinburgh

I’ve just arrived in Edinburgh after the gay wedding event of the century (at least that’s what I and 200 odd guests from several continents the world over thought).

Two Belfast boys tying the knot after 15 years together, in spite of the obstacles thrown their way, their stars rising together from triumph to triumph. And what a year to do it, as Ireland celebrates its resounding YES! to love vote.

Love is a powerful and hope-filled force and those generous enough to share it change lives and affect positive change.

As I scanned all the friends and family gathered, I prepared to say goodbye and began to feel overwhelmed.

Why is saying goodbye so hard? Even on happy occasions at times.

I scampered off, blubbering, especially when the hugs were held tight, setting off people’s tears in my wake.

Perhaps it’s tough because every time you say goodbye you are taking a snapshot of a memory, a moment in time, knowing you leave it behind as everyone scatters again and time marches on.

Saying goodbye to my Grandmother Mary on Christmas Eve proved my hardest goodbye yet and although she was 89, she was such a force and presence in my life I somehow imagined she would miraculously always be around. I dreaded the day I would lose her.

She had left a poem for me to read at her funeral that went “Miss Me But Let Me Go”. Easier said than done when you lose a dearly loved one.

However in this “letting go” and grieving it has led me on the most heartening and creative year and a half of my life. A terrifying but deeply fulfilling rollercoaster ride that’s landed me at my first fringe in a one-woman show I feel passionately about.

Grief begets art it seems and helps you be a little less fearful. Saying goodbye, in some way, brings us face to face with our own mortality and vulnerability as humans, as terrifying as that can be.

As a society we tend to value youth and perfection over sickness, frailty or being mortal – and it has devastating consequences to people’s mental health and life quality.

We are an ageing population and it’s time to rethink how we care for and embrace our elderly, making intergenerational interaction the norm and not a novelty (like the work Generations Working Together does in Glasgow).

Growing older and dying has become an evermore clinical, medical, institution-led experience. People dying alone isolated or in the company of strangers and machines.

Human connection sustains us, no matter how small the gesture. A phone call, cup of tea, a smile, encouraging someone out of the house for fresh air.

As my Belfast Boys said “I do”, I couldn’t help thinking that they would grow old (probably disgracefully!) together, surrounded by hundreds of people who love them.

Some of our fellow mortals aren’t so lucky – let’s try and reach them, before its time to say goodbye again.

(If you are feeling or know an older person feeling isolated, you can volunteer and find help at Silverline Scotland in association with Age Scotland)

Teaset, Pleasance, 6-31 Aug, 2pm / listings

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