Grief and art

Grieving children and young people can often feel lost for words, so we asked them to express themselves through a piece of artwork.

Grief and art

Lost for words

To mark Children’s Grief Awareness Week we asked bereaved children, young people and adults to create a piece of artwork expressing their experience of grief. If you would like to send us a piece for the gallery, email us on

Jack Kelly - Keep Flying with the Music

Keep Flying with the Music by Jack Kelly

I wrote this acoustic song about losing my dad when I was 14. It’s one of the most literal songs I have written, and covers themes of loneliness, growing through bereavement, making mistakes, but coming through all the hard times, and remembering to smile through all the hard times as that is what my dad would have wanted.

The intro is about how much I missed that he couldn’t hear me play guitar, but by the end I’m older and happier and have come to terms with how much l lost. It has been played on the BBC and the song was also turned into a play in London. I am quite an introverted person who struggles to talk about what happened when I was younger, but singing is my outlet and has helped me through a lot. The song lyrics can be found here.

Blue Hat by Alex Dixon

My son Samuel was born with a congenital heart defect. This had been picked up at my normal 20 week pregnancy scan. He was born in St Michael’s hospital in Bristol on 1st May 2019, and we were transferred the next day to Charlton Farm Hospice, where he lived for a happy and surprisingly healthy 11 days. My husband Mike, myself and our two older children, Connor and Bethany, and my sister Laura stayed there too.

This poem, ‘Blue hat’ was written about when we took him for a walk outside in the garden while our friends Alistair and Becca were visiting. We popped the woollen hat onto Samuel’s head, and it was too big for him, but he looked very cute.

Alex Dixon - Blue Hat
Olivia - My Story

My Story by Olivia, aged 12

This is a storyboard of how I found out that my dad died. We were living in Slovakia. We came to the UK to join my Dads sister after it happened. It was my Aunty who told me that my Dad took his own life. Mum found it hard to tell me this, as she didn’t want to ruin my life. She couldn’t find the words to say.

Now I know how he died and my life isn’t ruined.

Anna by Simon Bray

I run the Loved and Lost Project. Each participant is asked to find a photograph of themselves with their lost loved one. We then return to the location of the original photograph to replicate the image.

It is a chance to think back and remember, to tell the story of that day and of the person that they have lost. Imagery allows for expression beyond what we can speak of, an experience that contributes to the restorative process in overcoming the painful impact of loss. This project provides a platform, allowing others to acknowledge their loss, to celebrate the person they love and to show that the loss that they’ve experienced does not have control over who they are. Read about Anna’s experience here.

Jorgia - Different Perspectives

Different perspectives by Jorgia, aged 13

How we might see things if we don’t talk.

Bristol 2 Litre Engine by Julie Heaton

In 2009 I was widowed through suicide and my world fell apart. During the difficult years that followed, I had to be both mother and father to my young sons, taking on many new roles that were previously performed by my late husband. Whilst this was incredibly difficult, I learnt to live through my art and many of my traumas inspired my work.

The work is both masculine and feminine; a car engine made from stitch. It is obsessive in its detail. The drawing took over 350 hours to complete and in the final stage, it was pinned on to loft boards and washed with water to remove the soluble backing ensuring all control was lost as the threads found their own place.

Julie Heaton Bristol 2 litre engine

Anyone’s Child: the life and death of Jake Coe by Cara Lavan

This is a short film made by Cara about her partner, Jake, who died shortly before their son turned two. Their son is now seven and has not yet seen this film. His and Cara’s mutual grief is an on-going process.

“A lot of tears were shed during the making of this film but it felt like both a necessary and cathartic experience to help raise awareness about the difficulties faced by Jake and people like him – and the fact there is a way to prevent this from happening to other people.”

I want to remember by Andy

Words that a friend said to me a year after my wife died. I had no words to describe how I felt at the time.

I hope I will never get over it. I want to remember.

Andy - I want to remember it
You Were and You Are

You Were and You Are by Kate Longden

The ‘YOU WERE’ poem I wrote following the death of my dad when I was 14. I wrote it to remember those who have passed, but remain part of our circumference, part of our story, part of our remembered present.

The ‘YOU ARE’ poem was written later. For those who scaffold us, for family units, for friendship units, for ourselves, for love.

Image by Anna

Anna artwork