One year on from the start of lockdown in the UK, after a turbulent year affecting so many, the Good Grief virtual festival returns this month reaching thousands of people across the UK and internationally.

The event, which is free to attend and takes place over two days from Saturday 27 – Sunday 28 March, will explore the many faces of grief and bereavement through a series of talks and activities.

Contributors include members of Bath’s Centre for Death & Society, and over 150 speakers including international grief expert David Kessler; Julia Samuel MBE; rap artist Guvna B; comedians James Acaster, Seann Walsh and Ed Gamble, plus many more.

The programme combines practical help and insight alongside a creative line-up of events exploring love and loss, including: What Harry Potter Teaches us about Grief, Reflections on Death and Dying, The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times, Finding Your Grief Tribe, and The Grief Gift: Finding Meaning and Purpose after Loss.

Dr John Troyer, CDAS Bath Director who has collaborated with the festival organisers to bring together the programme, speaks on Sunday 28 March, discussing AIDS and what we could and should have learned from that pandemic.

Public awareness of the AIDS crisis, which was most acute in the 1980s and early 1990s, has been heightened recently through the hit Channel 4 series ‘It’s a Sin’, yet John’s talk will consider how and why despite occasional documentaries or TV series, it has largely fallen out of the media spotlight since. The panel will consider how pandemics such as AIDS and COVID-19 can change attitudes towards public healthcare, political power, social activism, death, dying and grief.

Commenting, Dr Troyer said: "The AIDS epidemic became an inescapable reference point for me personally this past year. Government responses to COVID-19 consistently used decision making that seemed to wholly ignore many of the lessons learned during the early decade of AIDS. Indeed, across the COVID pandemic it was like AIDS had never happened at all, and that compelled me to begin giving talks on the history of AIDS (which still remains a global pandemic) during COVID-19. I want to believe that all the people who died from AIDS died for a reason and that their deaths helped create new ways of understanding how to grieve during a plague."

Good Grief is supported by charity partner Marie Curie and the Good Grief Festival will also host six free virtual events for the National Day of Reflection (23 March). Gideon Coe (BBC 6 Music) will explore the healing power of songs in grief, special guests including Downton Abbey’s Jim Carter will join together for A Moment of Reflection to mark one year since the first lockdown, and Anneka Rice and Dr Rachel Clarke will join a panel of thinkers and creators to consider how we can find hope and meaning beyond COVID-19.