Lottie Tomlinson has reflected on the ‘scary’ period after her mother’s death where she struggled to find mental health support for herself and her then-12-year-old sisters.
The influencer, 24, was just 18 when she lost her mum Johannah Deakin to leukaemia in 2016 and three years later her sister Félicité died from an accidental overdose.
In an exclusive interview with MailOnline, she confessed it’s ‘shocking’ that medical professionals didn’t offered the family any counselling since they had spent so much time visiting the hospital in which her parent was being treated.
‘My sisters were only 12… it’s quite shocking looking back!’ Lottie Tomlinson has reflected on ‘scary’ time after her mum Johannah’s death where doctors failed to offer counselling to family (Lottie, centre, pictured with Daisy, left, and Phoebe Tomlinson, right)
She said: ‘We were offered nothing. I think it was shocking because my first loss was a very medical thing. My mum had cancer so we were in and out of hospital.
‘We were around medical professionals a lot so to not really be offered the help was quite shocking, really, looking back. But at the time, it just felt quite normal.’
As well as Louis and Lottie, Johannah was also mother to twins Daisy and Phoebe, 18, and Ernest and Doris, eight. She was also grandmother to Louis’ son Freddie, six.
Lottie added: ‘I didn’t really know any any other and I remember I was even trying to find help for my little sisters because they were 12. So we kind of needed a specialist kind of therapist or counselor and even the waiting list was so long.
Tragic: The influencer, 24, (left) was just 18 when she lost her mum Johannah Deakin (right) to leukaemia in 2016
‘I think when my mum passed away, I never got any help and I kind of fell into the bottling up category and then, when my sister passed away, I realised that way of kind of coping didn’t get me that far.
‘So I decided to talk to someone and be more open and face my feelings a bit more.
‘I found that I was able to cope with the grief so much better. And that’s why I like to talk about it because I’ve been through both situations, which I think is quite rare, to have two kind of sets of grief where you can compare the coping mechanisms.
‘That’s why I encourage people to talk, because the difference in my grief is so, so big. And for me, being able to talk about it, have a bit of therapy and face my feelings second time round made such a difference.’
Wow: She said: ‘We were offered nothing. I think it was shocking because my first loss was a very medical thing. My mum had cancer so we were in and out of hospital’
In June, Lottie visited London’s Houses of Parliament for the launch of a bereavement charity’s research.
She met with Shadow Cabinet Minister for Mental Health Dr Rosena Allin-Khan to talk about bereavement support across the UK.
The Sue Ryder ambassador also visited the Palace of Westminster for the charity’s launch event to mark their research ‘around the availability and impact of bereavement support’.
She explained: ‘We went into Parliament because I believe there should be a direct pathway for people who are grieving or have lost someone.
Opening up: She added: ‘We were around medical professionals a lot so to not really be offered the help was quite shocking, really, looking back. But at the time, it just felt quite normal’
‘I think that’s really lacking at the moment because when I was in the situation, I didn’t get offered any help and didn’t really know where to go if I needed any.
‘So I think there should be something like a booklet or a direct pathway for someone when they lose someone that they’ve got the clear options on how they can get help and I think it would prevent a lot of a lot of bad things happening because if people can get their help kind of straight away, they might not end up in a dark place.’
The Tanologist founder is supporting Sue Ryder’s new campaign, The Empty Chair, after new data revealed mealtimes are particularly difficult for those who are grieving as they reinforce feelings of loss and loneliness.
Lottie said of her involvement: ‘The campaign basically represents the meal times that can be hard for people grieving because it often makes it really apparent that there’s a spare chair that’s empty that should have a loved one in it.
Awful: Three years after Lottie’s mum Johannah sadly passed away, her sister Félicité (left) died in 2019 from an accidental overdose
‘So it’s a really clever way of bringing attention to grief and getting us all talking about it, which is so important because I think it’s such a taboo thing and we often don’t talk about it and we hide away from it.
‘And I think that’s why people end up in dark places and can’t really cope because it’s just not talked about so to be able to bring awareness to it in this way… I think it’s really, it is an interesting way to do it and it’s an honor to be a part of it.’
A statement released to MailOnline following Johannah’s death read: ‘It is with immeasurable sadness that Johannah Deakin’s family said goodbye to Johannah in the early hours of Wednesday 7th December 2016.
‘Earlier this year Johannah was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of leukaemia that required immediate and continuous treatment. We respectfully request that the family are given time and space to grieve in private.’
Good cause: In June, Lottie visited London’s Houses of Parliament for the launch of a bereavement charity’s research
Three years later, Félicité was found collapsed and lifeless at her fourth-floor studio apartment in Earls Court, west London.
Coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe said at an inquest afterwards: ‘It was a perfect storm, the OxyCodone, the alpraxolam [Xanax] and cocaine. I find no evidence this was a deliberate act to end her life.’
After hearing she had turned to drugs following the tragic death of her mother, the coroner recorded a misadventure verdict.
Sue Ryder launched their latest campaign as part of its wider Grief Kind movement – which looks to equip people with the knowledge and tools to be able to meet grief with warmth and acceptance rather than shying away from open conversations.
To mark the start of the campaign, between Tuesday 15 and Wednesday 16 November, Sue Ryder installed a 13-seater dining table set for dinner without guests at Victoria Leeds. Open from 8am-6pm on both days, each seat represented someone who has died.
Instead of menus at each place around the table, cards showed a photograph and a quote from a family member about the person who died.
Special items dressed the table that represent fond memories, characteristics or hobbies of the person, including lemon curd, a football scarf, a Meatloaf album and a set of scrubs.
Sue Ryder is encouraging the nation to be Grief Kind by adding a seat to your table, so no one has to go through grief alone. Visit sueryder.org/griefkind.
For bereavement resources including practical and emotional advice to encourage conversations about grief, visit sueryder.org/copingwithgrief.
Force for good: Sue Ryder is encouraging the nation to be Grief Kind by adding a seat to your table, so no one has to go through grief alone. Visit sueryder.org/griefkind