Exposing and Exploding the Grief Taboo

How many different phrases for death have you heard? When talking about the end of life, we often sidestep the words ‘death’ and ‘dying’ in favour of euphemisms, proverbs and metaphors. People are said to ‘pass away’ or ‘go to sleep’; others might ‘kick the bucket’, ‘bite the dust’, or even ‘walk the plank’.  

Our Good Grief Weston ‘Grief at the Seaside’ double bill will expose and explode the grief taboo, asking why we struggle to talk about the end of life and exploring ways to open up a more honest and compassionate culture around grief and bereavement.

To kick us off, Professor John Troyer will tell us about the fascinating history of memorial tattoos. He’ll explain the ways that writing on the body can help us tell our story, acting sometimes as a conversation starter which allows us to share memories and always as a physical reminder that celebrates our ongoing connection with someone we loved and lost.

John Troyer is a Professor of Death Studies and former Director of the Centre for Death and Society at the University of Bath. A frequent commentator for the BBC, he is passionate about sparking discussion about death and dying. He co-founded the Death Reference Desk website and the Future Cemetery Project, which both provide new ways to engage communities in talking about the end of life. John’s latest book, Technologies of the Human Corpse (2020), overviews the complex relationship between the dead body and technology, from nineteenth-century embalming machines to contemporary death-prevention technologies.

After John’s talk, we’ll grab our bingo cards for Death Euphemism Bingo! YARA + DAVINA’s irreverent twist on the classic game will encourage us to confront the societal aversion to death, while also having a lot of fun (and maybe winning some prizes!) 

YARA + DAVINA’s bingo is the latest in a series of playful, provocative and stimulating public artworks that shine new light on big questions. Their recent project ‘Arrivals and Departures’ reimagines the familiar format of a train station board to display names of people submitted by the public, celebrating births or arrivals and commemorating deaths or departures. The artistic duo has also created a collection of tea blends which reflect trade networks and British communities, and a football scarf for two women’s teams inspired by MP Jo Cox’s inaugural parliamentary speech: ‘We are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us’. 


Grief by the Seaside: a double-bill of Tattoos and Bingo takes place on Tuesday 2 May, 7pm-10pm, at The Stable Games Room. £Pay-What-You-Decide. More details and bookings HERE