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Stroud collaboration shines a light on grief and hope during pandemic

The Good Grief Project and The Sub Rooms are collaborating to honour those who are experiencing grief during the pandemic by lighting up the historic venue at the heart of Stroud.

This evening (Tuesday, December 8) from 5pm Stroud Sub Rooms will be flooded with yellow light as part of National Grief Awareness Week (December 2-8) which will also see other historic buildings such as St Paul's Cathedral in London and Blackpool Tower illuminated. There will be a minute's silence at 6pm.

Jane Harris and Jimmy Edmonds from The Good Grief Project hope that illumination of the building, which sits at the heart of Stroud, will act as a beacon of light and hope as the Covid pandemic continues to dominate lives, as well as unlocking the conversation about how grief affects us all.

Jane Harris founded the family-run charity, The Good Grief Project, with her husband, BAFTA award-winning filmmaker Jimmy Edmonds, after their son Josh died in a road accident in Vietnam in 2011 and have tirelessly campaigned to support the 50,000 grieving parents, siblings and grandparents who are bereaved in the UK each year.

Jane said: "The pandemic has highlighted the importance of discussing the impact that grief is having on us, and the disturbing combination of conflicting emotions that we are all experiencing during the current crisis.

"Our mission is to support families grieving after the untimely death of a loved one, but we recognise that during the global pandemic a palpable sense of collective grief has emerged.

"Grief is actually a multiple of feelings - denial, anger, bargaining, sadness and acceptance - and as the pandemic has affected our lives we are all experiencing those emotions to a different extent.

"The loss of normalcy, the fear of economic instability and job loss, but also the loss of connection and our communities is affecting us all and we are pleased to be working with The Sub Rooms to address this collective grief that is dominating all of our lives right now."

By lighting The Sub Rooms the collaborators hope to provide some reassurance and reconnection within the community as both organisations passionately strive to create safe spaces for people to enjoy, and reconnect in.

Hugh Phillimore, volunteer director at The Sub Rooms, said that the partnership felt very appropriate during these trying times.

"We have just opened the extraordinary Everything is Light attraction at The Sub Rooms to enable our community to come together and find some joy and consolation during these dark months and we welcomed the opportunity to work with The Good Grief Project and encourage our visitors to talk about their experiences," Mr Phillimore said.

"I don't know anyone who hasn't experienced deep anxiety, fear, anger and loneliness over the past six months - or who haven't at least been touched by indifference and boredom on a daily basis.

"Our building is proud to symbolise the power that community, hope and the arts can have during this difficult time and we hope that this new collaboration will allow us to explore how we can quite literally provide some light in the darkness during this challenging time."

Jimmy and Jane's work focuses on using the visual arts to explore grief and kick-start conversations about the often complicated emotions that the sudden death of a family member can have on those they leave behind.

As well as winning a number of awards for their films, which have been watched by tens of thousands of people all over the world, they have also developed a number of workshops, courses and weekend retreats designed to help people manage and express their grief.

Their next project is a film titled Beyond The Mask which features a series of lockdown conversations between Jane, who is a psychotherapist and bereavement specialist, and bereaved friends about how they are dealing with the Covid pandemic.

"Grief challenges who we are," said Jane. "I certainly had to rethink my whole sense of self after Josh died.

"The enforced isolation of the lockdown and the feelings of social anxiety that we are all experiencing to a certain extent has provoked similar feelings to the grief that people experience following the death of a loved one."

Everything is Light runs from December 8 until December 18 at Stroud Subscription Rooms. For more information and tickets visit thesubrooms.co.uk 

The Good Grief Project is dedicated to understanding grief as a creative and active process. Learn more about their work at thegoodgriefproject.co.uk 

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