Project encouraging conversations on grief comes to Tower Hamlets

David Harradine and Sam Butler

David Harradine and Sam Butler in Manchester 2019 - Credit: Richard Tymon

People have been invited to talk about grief at pop-up events in markets and parks in Tower Hamlets. 

Art collective Fevered Sleep is set to run the free events until June 17 in places including Bethnal Green Market, Victoria Park and online, as part of a project called This Grief Thing.

Its co-founder and artist David Harradine, 50, said the project aims to encourage conversations around a topic that is often neglected. 

David said: “Grief is such a normal, common emotion. Everyone who is lucky enough to love somebody is going to grieve at some point. 

"It is incredibly isolating and really wonderful to be able just to be in the company of people who have got some sort of shared experience and willingness to listen and be kind and acknowledge each others’ grief.

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"It’s a very powerful thing.”

David launched the project in 2018 with co-founder Sam Butler in response to the unexpected death of his sister almost ten years ago. 

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He added: “I felt really fortunate because I had really brilliant friends that were able to support me and acknowledge my grief but I noticed that one by one by one, they stopped talking about and acknowledging it.

“I got really frustrated about that. I said to Sam: ‘Why has everyone stopped talking to me about it? I want to get a t-shirt that says I’m still grieving as a joke.' I was angry and upset and Sam said: ‘That’s a great idea.’”

The group sells merchandise emblazoned with phrases such as "grief is like the weather" and "don’t panic if I cry", on a pay what you want basis. 

The programme will include online conversations around grief, featuring speakers from philosophers and a death doula, and a billboard campaign.

David added: “The meaning of the whole project has changed because of the pandemic. It has never felt so relevant to have a project which encourages people to talk about grief, to express their grief, to support each other in grieving.”

The project is running in London for the first time and is open to everyone, including people who are not personally grieving.

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