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Ruby Wax to headline this month’s Good Grief Festival

Ruby Wax

Press release issued: 13 October 2021

American-British actress, comedian, writer, mental health campaigner and lecturer - Ruby Wax - will headline the Good Grief Festival, which returns later this month (Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 October).

With a programme of 30 FREE events, the ‘virtual festival of love and loss’, a collaborative event led by the University of Bristol and supported by charity partner Marie Curie, will explore the universal human experience of grief through panel discussions, conversations and workshops. The festival that started only one year ago has already attracted over 20,000 people to its events.

Over 70 speakers will take part including Julia Samuel MBE (This Too Shall Pass, Grief Works), Robert Macfarlane (The Lost Words, Underland), Sarfraz Manzoor (Blinded by the Light, Newsnight), Kathryn Mannix (With the End in Mind, Listen), Raynor Winn (The Salt Path), Oscar-winning producer Mia Bays, the former Bishop of Edinburgh, Richard Holloway, YouTuber Ryan Arey (ScreenCrush) and actress Isaura Barbé-Brown (Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald).

Dr Lucy Selman, Founding Director of Good Grief, and Associate Professor in the Palliative and End of Life Research Group and Centre for Academic Primary Care at the University of Bristol, said: “We are delighted to announce the line-up for our latest festival. Grief affects us all, yet can be really difficult to talk about. Bereaved people are at particular risk of social isolation and loneliness, and that has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic*.

“The Good Grief Festival aims to bring people together to learn about grief and its effects, share experiences and support each other. By bringing grief out into the open we hope we can normalise this universal and yet often devastating experience.”

Talks during the festival include: Ruby Wax in conversation with Julia Samuel; author Robert Macfarlane: The poetry + music of loss; The Superhero’s guide to grief; The secrets + lies we leave behind; The dead parent club; From woods to water: how nature holds us in our darkest times; Fright night: grief in horror; The comfort of the big beyond: grief + spirituality; Dr Kathryn Mannix on how to have life changing conversations.

There will be a series of short Grief Chats, curated by The Grief Gang host Amber Jeffrey, bringing together two people with a shared experience of grief to tell their stories including: people from the refugee and LGBTQ communities; two people with learning disabilities; two people who are caring for loved ones with dementia; and women who have been through miscarriage.

The festival will also feature a wellbeing area with workshops for those who are going through grief, including breathwork, mindfulness, yoga and sound healing. There will also be a number of death cafes hosted by Memorial Woodlands throughout the weekend.

It’s free to attend all events over the festival weekend. Recordings will also be available to watch on-demand after the festival on The Grief Channel, with closed captioning available. With access to over 150 previous Good Grief events, people can sign up to the Grief Channel for just £20 for one year and doctors and trainees who sign up can request 24 CPD points from the Federation of the Royal Colleges of Physicians.

Good Grief online events are all FREE to attend. To sign up visit the Good Grief Festival website.

Further information

About Marie Curie

Marie Curie is the UK's leading end of life charity.  The charity provides essential frontline nursing and hospice care for people with any terminal illness, a free support line and a wealth of information and support on all aspects of dying, death and bereavement. It is the largest charity funder of palliative and end of life care research in the UK. Marie Curie is committed to sharing its expertise to improve quality of care and ensuring that everyone has a good end of life experience. Marie Curie is calling for recognition and sustainable funding of end of life care and bereavement support.

UK Commission on Bereavement

The Commission's purpose is to review the experiences of, and support available for, people affected by bereavement through and beyond the Covid-19 pandemic, and to make recommendations to key decision-makers, including the UK Government. The Commission is independent of the Government and is made up of a group of 15 commissioners, who were appointed by a steering group of charities including Marie Curie, Independent Age, The National Bereavement Alliance and Childhood Bereavement Network, Cruse Bereavement Care and The Centre for Mental Health.

For more information visit the Bereavement Commission website.

The independent UK Commission on Bereavement launched a call for evidence earlier this month which is open until the end of December 2021.

People bereaved in the last three years or working with the bereaved can take part here.

In a survey of 711 people bereaved during the pandemic led by Drs Lucy Selman and Emily Harrop, 80.7 per cent reported limited contact with other close relatives or friends and 66.7 per cent reported social isolation and loneliness*.

For more statistics on the experiences of those bereaved in the UK during the pandemic, see:


* ‘Place, cause and expectedness of death and relationship to the deceased are associated with poorer experiences of end-of-life care and challenges in early bereavement: Risk factors from an online survey of people bereaved during the COVID-19 pandemic’ by LE Selman, E Harrop et al in medRxiv

Support needs and barriers to accessing support: Baseline results of a mixed-methods national survey of people bereaved during the COVID-19 pandemic' by E. Harrop, L. E. Selman et al in medRxiv

For the current number of recorded COVID-19 deaths in the UK, see:

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