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Reverend Richard Coles discusses the theme of grief at the Bradford Literature Festival

I was thrilled to be able to hear the Reverend Richard Coles discussing the theme of grief at the Bradford Literature Festival on Sunday evening, 4th July. His latest book “The Madness of Grief” is a vivid portrayal of his own experience when his partner, the Reverend David Coles, died in December 2019.  Three things really remained with me long after the talk.

Firstly, the grief that is felt and played out in the public arena when you’re as famous as he is. He did selfies outside a Costa cafe in the hospital where David was waiting for surgery, somewhat in a haze between reality and shock. Why does the world continue as if nothing has happened? That limbo is something we all feel when a loved one is slipping away from us, but how much harder to be in the public eye? The second thing that we can all relate to is the visualisation of being able to magically move our loved one out of ICU, back into a main ward, a recovery ward and ultimately out of the hospital. Richard thought of this as he gazed at a hospital map during a brief respite period. Finally, the surges of grief experienced when you think everything is getting back to normal and then you smell something; a whiff of cologne or cigarette smoke which triggers the memory of your loved one, somewhere, but not here.

A lovely, genuine, man, he signed my book afterwards, and was interested to hear I was both a vet and a priest. “The Church of England doesn’t understand me” I said, and he smiled and said “Tell me about it.” I missed Evensong but it was well worth it!!

About The book

Whether it is pastoral care for the bereaved, discussions about the afterlife, or being called out to perform the last rites, death is part of the Reverend Richard Coles's life and work....

The Reverend Richard Coles's deeply personal account of life after grief will resonate, unforgettably, with anyone who has lost a loved one.


Posted on July 7th 2021

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