University of Bristol: Good Grief Festival marks one year since first COVID-19 lockdown

Good Grief Festival – a virtual festival exploring the many faces of grief – will return to our screens next month [Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 March]. The festival has a programme of over 70 speakers and 50 free online events to help the many thousands of people in the UK and across the world who are grieving.

Good Grief is also working with end of life charity Marie Curie to host a series of events for the National Day of Reflection on Tuesday 23 March, which Marie Curie is spearheading to mark one year since the first UK COVID-19 lockdown.

Good Grief will host 50 events, over the Day of Reflection and Good Grief Festival, including panel talks, interviews and conversations. Working with the themes of ‘hope and meaning’, Good Grief will explore the universal human experience of grief at a time when the UK is mourning over 115,000 lives lost to COVID-19.

Dr Lucy Selman, Founding Director of Good Grief, from the Palliative and End of Life Research Group at the University of Bristol, said: “Next month marks a year since the first national lockdown – a year which has brought with it huge challenges and significant losses.

“Around the world, millions of people are mourning the deaths of loved ones, friends and family members at an extraordinarily difficult time, when social networks and our usual ways of coping have been profoundly disrupted.

“This spring, when it is needed more than ever, we are holding Good Grief Festival to bring people together for solace and support. We are delighted to partner with Marie Curie to shed light on the many dimensions of grief, and provide time and space to share experiences and remember those who have died.”

Over 70 speakers will take part in Good Grief including English children’s author, poet and former children’s laureate Michael Rosen, who will shortly be publishing a book about his experiences with coronavirus; Julia Samuel (This Too Shall Pass, Grief Works); best-selling authors Nikesh Shukla (The Good Immigrant, Brown Baby) and Katherine May (Wintering), Catherine Mayer and Anne Mayer Bird (Good Grief: Embracing life at a time of death), palliative care doctors Rachel Clarke (Dear Life: A Doctor’s Story of Love and Loss, Breathtaking) and Kathryn Mannix (With the End in Mind), illustrator Gary Andrews (Doodle-A-Day/Finding Joy) and Stuart Lawrence, younger brother of Stephen Lawrence and author of Silence is not an Option.

Topics that will be discussed include: Behind the ‘Numbers’: Humanising Covid-19; The Grief Gift: Finding Meaning + Purpose After Loss; How the Seasons Teach us to Grieve; The Importance of Storytelling in Grief; The Guilt Monster: Grief’s Complicated Sidekick; What Harry Potter Teaches us about Grief; Reflections on Death + Dying: Finding Hope; and Finding Your Grief Tribe: The Importance of Community + Connection.

The festival will also include a Grief School featuring 40 hours of on-demand video content categorised by grief type: from childhood bereavement to the death of a partner, traumatic loss to complicated grief, sibling loss to pet bereavement. The Grief School will include conversations between grievers, panel talks with experts, and webinars with bestselling authors.

Good Grief is a collaborative event led by the University of Bristol and supported by charity partner Marie Curie, who have been supporting bereaved people as well as caring for dying people with and without coronavirus throughout the pandemic.

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