Good Grief with Reverend Richard Cole’s review: The national treasure embarks on an unlikely journey of grief

Reverend Richard Coles – Rev., co-presenter of BBC Radio 4 Saturday liveAuthor, winner of celebrity master chef, and former keyboardist for 1980s pop sensation The Communards – has become something of a national treasure in his own quiet and unassuming way. Can he really be as overwhelmingly nice as he seems? I have no reason to doubt that, and his endless empathy is one of the many qualities that make him such a popular figure with the general public, and one can imagine him serving God with such distinction.

There is certainly a lot of empathy present – ​​and required good sorrow, an unusual documentary that explores the terrifying and still slightly taboo subject of grief. Coles lost his partner of 12 years, David Oldham, to alcoholism just before Christmas 2019, but the details won’t go into here. Instead, Coles takes us on what he calls his “funeral journey.” Throughout his many encounters with counselors and people still processing a deep, life-changing loss, he finds his “burden” – a derogatory but useful word – relieved by the experience of talking things through and sharing the pain. For example, he rejoices when a rather outspoken American therapist, in the manner of a 1980s TV business evangelist, tells him that the old adage “time heals” is “just rubbish.” A lady at a “Laughter Yoga” studio helps him convince him that the famous “Five Stages of Grief” are a “misunderstanding.” He laughs with other widows who share amusing grief anecdotes – one of whom tells him to cherish his time in early bereavement because “no one will ever be that nice to you again.” That kind of thing.

It’s not hard to sympathize with Coles over his loss, but his personal journey has so many “stops” that it’s also a bit dizzying. It’s almost as if Channel 4 decided the best way to help Coles and anyone else looking for solace on a Monday night in front of the TV is to distract everyone involved with a travel schedule so busy you can’t have plenty of time for introspection or you’ll miss the next flight. So we join the nation’s favorite pastor as he embarks on grief-focused experiences like skydiving in Milton Keynes, surfing in Bristol, attending a widow’s retreat on the Isle of Bute, cuddling a sloth in Honduras, a “Mourning Cruise” in the Caribbean, Alpaca Talks in the Cotswolds and, most unlikely, “Mourning Boxing” in Wellingborough. It’s a kind of ‘mourn around the world in 80 days’ treatment and quite arbitrary at times. I concluded that almost any event involving human interaction with comrades could be tailored and turned into a form of therapy, including anything from a vintage bus rally to an illegal dog fight.

Coles is such an obviously warm and loving person that we’re with him as he’s tied up like a walrus in a sausage skin and launches himself into the Bristol Channel in the freezing cold of February. I can imagine that this has helped him stimulate endorphins and expand his life experiences just as David once pushed him out of his comfort zone. A reserved type, however, Coles’ brief stints on camera didn’t reveal much about his inner feelings, he admits. To be honest, I would have liked a little more reflection on his life with David and a little less travelogue. Like I said, maybe Coles didn’t have that much to say despite his calling, or it just wasn’t the time to tell with so many adventures.

People Cole’s age, around 60, are just entering the stage of life when parents, older siblings, partners and longtime friends are beginning to fade away. You attend more funerals than, as one might once have done, Communards concerts, and you spend too much time feeling powerless and thinking about nothing more than the title of the band’s 1986 hit cover,” Don’t Leave Me This Way”. . Let us hope and pray that his awe will remain and comfort us for a while yet. Coles is the closest thing the British have to a national vicar and he needs to be taken care of. Good Grief with Reverend Richard Cole’s review: The national treasure embarks on an unlikely journey of grief


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