Grief during a time of Covid-19

As we write this, the death toll from Covid-19 in the UK as risen above 18,000, probably much more given that the government statistics only includes deaths in hospitals. The figure does not take into account those that die in their own home, or more significantly, residents of the thousands of care homes up and down the country.

As one famous 20th century dictator opined – ‘one death is a tragedy, a million a mere statistic’.

Our son Josh’s death was a very real tragedy for us, his immediate family and his friends – for others he is not much more than a statistic – that young man who died too soon in a road accident in Vietnam was one of some 10,800 similar casualties that year. To add more perspective, in Vietnam you are 30 times more likely to die in a road traffic accident than from a pandemic disease.

How do we cope with these mind-boggling numbers when we grieve so hard for our one and only’s? How do we manage today’s news (almost totally all about the current crisis) with it’s ever mounting tally of victims when we are ourselves still trying to make sense of our own personal bereavement.

Frankly, I’m not sure we have any of the answers short of a kind of intuitive sense that whatever feelings and emotions that do arise. they are quite normal and natural. And that they will come and go just like the waves of grief.



We like to think of grief as a form of energy and to promote the idea that grief is about doing – it’s about finding creative expression for your feelings and being active. 

Despite the current situation, we are working hard to continue the support we offer to bereaved parents and siblings – though sadly the current lockdown has meant we have had to cancel our next Active Grief Weekend retreat scheduled for the middle of May.  We wait to see how the situation develops but we hope the retreat in September can still go ahead. This is now  SOLD OUT with most bookings transferring from the May event. But do email us if you want to join us on another retreat planned for later in the year, or to go on our waiting list. 

If you want to practise your photography skills you can also join us in a new online project we have started ... see below for ‘you are not alone in this’ 

A number of cinema screenings of our documentary A LOVE THAT NEVER DIES have also had to be cancelled, including events in Prague, Bristol, Birmingham, Cirencester and possibly New York.  You can, of course, still view the film in the comfort of your own home by clicking on this link 

For the moment we hope that the two GOOD GRIEF FUNDRAISING CHALLENGES planned for this year can still go ahead but it does feel like these too are in the lap of the Gods. We will let you know as soon as possible if these have to be cancelled or more likely postponed. Find out more about how to take part and how to donate by following the links below.

For the moment we hope that the two GOOD GRIEF FUNDRAISING CHALLENGES planned for this year can still go ahead but it does feel like these too are in the lap of the Gods.  We will let you know as soon as possible if these have to be cancelled or more likely postponed.  Find out more about how to take part and how to donate by following the links below.

Bereaved parents and siblings can join us on The Yorkshire Three Peak Challenge on 1st August 2020. Find out more here or write to (Joe is Josh’s older brother and he leads the active element of our retreats)

Bereaved parents and siblings can join us on  The Yorkshire Three Peak Challenge on 1st August 2020.  Find out more here  or write to  (Joe is Josh’s older brother and he leads the active element of our retreats)
Bereaved parents and siblings can join us on  The Yorkshire Three Peak Challenge on 1st August 2020.  Find out more here  or write to  (Joe is Josh’s older brother and he leads the active element of our retreats)
The Kilimanjaro Challenge in October is now fully booked. A team of twenty is ready and raring to go.  You can help them and us by donating to one of the many fundraising pages.

JUST IN TIME – our last screening before Lockdown.The Good Grief Project Sells Out at Stroud Film Festival March 2020.

We were thrilled once again to be asked by our local community to curate an evening of films for their 6th annual Stroud Film Festival.  Not for the first time our event was Sold Out.
The programme for The Language of Grief had three films that each in their very different ways explored themes of death, dying, bereavement and … love.   BIFFA award winning filmmaker Carol Salter showed her mesmerising film Made in Heaven, the story of two young interns in a Chinese mortuary. Our own film Lessons in Grief followed two bereaved families as they prepared for the annual celebrations for the Mexican Day of the Dead in their home town of Oaxaca.  And Anne-Marie Cockburn (see our guest blog below) also joined us to show her short film Laid Bare, a wonderful evocation of the days following the news of her daughters death in 2015.
Every filmmaker loves to screen their work in front of a live audience and to be able to take questions and enter the discussion that their films provoke.  In one sense it’s why we do what we do.  Yes there is joy in the production process, of filming and editing  good documentaries, just as there is in viewing them; but in the end our films are but a means to a better understanding of the world – in our case the world of grief.   The opportunity provided by film festivals such as the one in Stroud was a classic example of an enlightened engagement with a ‘difficult’ subject.  As festival director Andy Freedman put it “It’s been a privilege to witness and gain some insight from these deeply personal stories.   They have caused us to reflect and think about our own lives in unexpected ways.”


We are blessed to have two exceptional conversationalists in our team … co-founder Jane Harris and filmmaker Lizzie Pickering have recently recorded a video conversation sharing their thoughts on how they have responded to the current lockdown. They discuss how their experience of bereavement is helping them deal with enforced isolation, uncertain futures and the difficulties associated with soclal distancing.    A must watch  – click on the image below to view.


GRIEF IN A TIME OF COVID-19   Anne Marie Cockburn’s only child died aged 15 in 2013 from an accidental drug overdose.  In this guest blog she shares thoughts on surrendering to the unknown …

Old grief, new grief – worrying about the current risks to ourselves and our loved ones throws up all sorts of emotions.
At the moment the world feels as though a lot of the background noise has been switched off and we’re all hard-wired to news and updates on Covid-19. Some of us are at the coal face of it, while others are watching it unfold behind laptop and phone screens. Whatever your circumstances or location – the feeling of foreboding is palpable. Our guts are telling us it’s moving gradually closer.
Shopping for essentials is no longer a carefree, instinctive experience – extra levels of vigilance and concerns due to not being able to obtain essential items leave us feeling drained and exhausted (despite many of us being less physically active than we’re used to being).
Then there are the moments when you stop watching the news and tune into yourself. A few deep breaths and the refreshing awareness of the simplicity of this enforced way of living. The conveyor belt of modern life has slowed down and the manic energy has lifted. Many of us are discovering new hobbies – baking, yoga, window box gardening.
As we don’t know how long this will last for there’s a surrendering to the unknown. This is what bereavement is like – the resistance to the truth of losing your loved one mixed with the momentary acceptance of it. In the surrendering there are pockets of peace as the wrath of the pain softens and some of the answers appear.
Being bereaved is a job in itself – it takes so much soul-searching and strength to get through the 1440 minutes that make up every single day. But time also seems distorted as the days seem to speed by and drag simultaneously.This new perspective that’s been forced upon us all will surely lead us to new ways when this is all done and dusted. So whether our grief is old grief or new grief, as we venture forth with our loved ones in our hearts – this new appreciation of the simpler things in life will hopefully help us to rebuild our lives and seek fulfillment that is less focussed on materials gain and more on our need to express ourselves and explore our creativity.Anne-Marie’s book ‘5,742 Days – A mothers journey through loss” is published by Infinite Ideas Ltd.  You can contact Anne Marie HERE.

a photography project for you to join

We are so excited to announce a new photography project for you to take part in. Inspired by the lyrics of a Mumford and Sons track Jane found on Josh’s phone after his belongings were returned to us from Vietnam.   ‘You Are Not Alone In This’  will be an online collection of your images all taken as a response to our grief during Covid-19.

Leading this project is our good friend and colleague Annabel Richmond who says:
“We are sailing upon uncharted waters at this time of world upheaval. Humanity is having to deal with grief in so many shapes and forms as the Corona virus storms our planet. And, the social isolation that we now find ourselves confined within can make grief feel far more profound. We are all learning to be in this together and would very much like to support you at this time.  We want you to know that YOU are not alone.”How to get involved:

Post an image on your own social media account using the hashtag #youarenotaloneinthis and/or send us the photograph so that we can reshare it on our social media and credit you publicly.

How to connect with us:

There are three ways you can share your photo with us:

If you have already have posted it on Instagram, please make sure you tag us with @thegoodgriefproject and then simply send the photo via direct message to our instagram account (its the paper dart icon)

If you use Facebook please add your photo to The Good Grief Photo Project page.   This is a private group so you will need to join – it only takes a few moments.

Or send us your image by email to:

Please feel free to provide a few words alongside your image and, if you feel comfortable, perhaps your geographic region too.

Your image:

What you choose to photograph is up to you but we would ask that the photo be taken during this Covid-19 Lockdown period (March 23 to the present date) and that it does in some way express or relate to your grief.  Please send us the image only, with no text superimposed. The file should be no more than 10MB.

By sending an image to us, you are happy that:
a) we may edit the image slightly to suit the social media size;
b) that we may also use the image within a gallery on social media and our website and
c) we plan to create a slideshow ‘film’ of the final image collection that may or may not include your photo.

Check out this compilation of photos we made – your photo could be here …

That’s all for now – thanks for reading


With Love

Jimmy, Jane and all at THE GOOD GRIEF PROJECT


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“Grief is about doing…if you do stuff, you express stuff, that’s when you move forward in grief.”


We have developed a number of workshops, courses and weekend retreats all designed to help you to manage and express your grief in ways that are both active and true to you.

Our next retreats are

10th – 12th May (NOW FULLY BOOKED)

& 13th – 15th SEPTEMBER 2024

Blackadon Farm, 

Nr Ivybridge Dartmoor


When words are not enough

Our new book on creative responses to grief