I recently discovered a new podcast by comedian and actor Cariad Lloyd in which she talks to other comedians about their experiences of bereavement and grief (Lloyd's father died when she was 15).
Although the people interviewed are stand up comics, the show takes its subject matter seriously and explores the emotional effects of caring for someone who is dying and dealing with the practicalities.
Adam Buxton reflects on the anxiety his father felt about whether his affairs were in order, and Lloyd highlights the seemingly trivial information that can cause issues for families, such as not knowing the deceased's email account password.
With a bit of planning to make a will and leave a list of assets it is possible to address some of these issues in advance, which might relieve some of the stress at an otherwise difficult time.
There are lighter moments in the show and reflection on the humour that can be found in the darkest of circumstances, a coping mechanism many people experience at times of stress.
This is by no means a laugh a minute podcast, but it doesn't set out to be. However, it is an interesting way to open up the discussion about the grieving process which is rarely explored in such depth in mainstream media, but which affects so many people and often for a long time after a loved one has died.
Well worth a listen.
Cariad Lloyd says “It’s not that easy to talk about death,” she says, “but it does help if you’ve chosen a career designed to hide your true feelings about anything emotional.” Is that a workable definition of standup comedy? I’m not sure. It’s certainly interesting that Lloyd, herself a terrific comic and improviser, has chosen to conduct these chats only with her professional peers – Sara Pascoe and Adam Buxton (so far) among them. Her reasons aren’t fully explained, but she does now and then suggest that grief as experienced by comics (her father died when she was in her teens) is a particular thing. Comedians, she suggests, are by inclination avoiders, displacers, even trivialisers, uniquely ill-equipped to stare into the abyss that bereavement opens up.