Zayn Malik
Zayn Malik quit one Direction in March 2015Getty Images

Zayn Malik is in mourning following the death of his maternal grandmother earlier in January. The former One Direction star confirmed the sad news on social media.

Taking to Twitter he thanked fans for their support and paid tribute to his beloved relative. "Thank you for your support and love... My grandma was a beautiful person and will be missed dearly x."

His younger sister, Waliyha Azad, was the first to announce their grandmother's passing by sharing a photograph of their nan posing alongside their mother, Trisha, and a man who appears to be the their late grandfather on Instagram.

The accompanying message read: "R.I.P to my grandma I love you more than anything in the world my angel. It was so hard to see you struggle the way you have been but I know your in a better place now with my granddad he'll be so happy to see you after so many years."[sic]

It didn't take long for the hashtag #ZaynStayStrong to start trending on Twitter with many fans expressing their love and support in the comments.

Hours after posting his heartbreaking farewell to his grandmother, Malik was seen holding hands with his new girlfriend Gigi Hadid, who will be a comforting shoulder to lean on through this difficult time. The 22-year-old Bradford-born star is currently thought to be in New York working on his solo debut so it's unclear whether he will head home to be with his family.