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This Grief Thing: A Project by Fevered Sleep

19 March 19 words: Georgianna Scurfield

It’s six o’clock on a Friday night, the sun is setting behind a ceiling of grey clouds as the city centre shrugs off the working week. And I’m on my way to talk to a room full of strangers about grief...

This Grief Thing shop. Photo credit: Dance4

This Grief Thing is a national touring project by Fevered Sleep which is pushing the boundaries of the way in which we deal with grief, by opening up the conversation and making it more visible. The project is a touring pop-up shop which sells clothing, badges, bags and condolence cards which show words and phrases like “Make Space For Grief” and “Grief Is Like The Weather”. The phrases are intended to help start conversations about grief, and the project also involves grief gatherings in the space, which is where I recently spent my Friday night.

My brother died in 2015; it’s taking me a long time to navigate around it and to find my way through the fog. Along the journey I’ve had wonderful friends and family who keep the dialogue open, and a counsellor at one point, who provided an impartial ear for me to vent and rage and cry.

As I was walking to Fevered Sleep's pop-up grief shop, in one of the vacant units in the Avenues of Sneinton Market, I couldn’t help but question how useful talking more about my experience with grief would help. Oh, how I was wrong.

Grief is such an individual experience that can be both isolating and enlightening. Being in a room with people who have a shared experience of it felt sort-of empowering.

The artists, Sam Butler and David Harradine, created a wonderful, open space in which people shared and listened. The conversation flowed naturally from the first question of “Who do you go to talk to about grief?” onto conversations around grief that doesn’t involve death, what to do when others are grieving, and finally we shared specific details about our own grief. There were a few moments of silence which, although made me feel awkward, gave space to others to share, who were slightly more hesitant at first.

When in grief, I know that many people find it difficult to find the right person to speak to, but what this project gave me was a chance to listen to people who have lost. That, for me, was super impactful. It was comforting to learn about similarities between our losses, feelings and dealings with grief, and it normalised what myself and my family have been through.

Sam and David did a wonderful job of guiding and guarding the conversation and, at points, it was a relief that they were there to take the burden of a reaction when other people shared.

They made it clear that they weren’t counsellors, just human beings who want to create a space in which people can share thoughts and feelings and opinions. And they did that very well.

Whether you’ve experienced grief or not, having the opportunity to sit down to chat and listen to people who have a shared interest in what you have experienced is a positive thing. Fevered Sleep are doing a wonderful job at opening up a difficult conversation and hopefully, if the message sinks in, it won’t always be this hard.

This Grief Thing runs until Sunday 24 March at Unit 28, Avenue A, Sneinton Market, NG1 1DT

The next Grief Gatherings take place on

Friday 22 March, 10am - 11.30am

Saturday 23 March, 3 - 4.30

Sunday 24 March, 11 - 12.30

Places are free, but please book a place by emailing Emma on [email protected] or call 07493750427

This Grief Thing on Dance4 website


This Grief Thing shop. Photo credit: Dance4

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