Skip to content

‘In the midst of life we are in death’: Articulating grief and grieving SSS16

  • School: School of Social Sciences
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Starting: 2022
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Fully-funded


NTU's Fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme 2022

Project ID: SSS16

Grief and grieving are amongst the most painful of human experiences. The impact of withdrawing social contact in response to the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a loss of rites, rituals and human contact which accompany bereavement and provide temporal and spatial structuring to early grief. These dislocations and losses foreground the significance of formal and informal, sacred and secular practices accompanying death and grief.

The difficulties people experience in speaking their own grief and listening to others speak of grief are well documented. In the popular imagination the model of the five or seven stages of grief persists, narrativizing and rationalising grief. With the increasing willingness in society to discuss mental health and wellbeing there has been an accompanying tendency to handle grief as a form of being unwell which requires effort and minimal time to return to daily routines and responsibilities.

In contrast, art, poetry and faith traditions from any period of history up to and including the present offer a rich and complex engagement with death, bereavement and grief.

The juxtaposition of these differing discourses raises questions about the articulation of death, bereavement and grief in contemporary society, including how care professionals, friends, relatives, colleagues and others speak of and listen to grief. The loss of rites, rituals and human contact during the COVID-19 pandemic illuminates the roles of structure and touch in shaping human experiences and point towards a timeliness in thinking about their roles in bereavement.

The aim of this project is to raise questions about the articulation of grief and grieving through an explorative approach to grief and grieving in poetry/visual art/ritual from any period of history up to and including the present and consider these in relation to contemporary practices around grief and grieving in health/social care practice.

The nature of the research is such that an approach focusing on poetry and/or visual art and/or ritual and documentary research will be used within an overarching qualitative research design.

School strategic research priority

This project aligns with the Centre for Behavioural Research Methods and the Centre for Public and Psychosocial Health

Entry qualifications

For the eligibility criteria, visit our studentship application page.

How to apply

For guidance and to make an application, please visit our studentship application page. The application deadline is Friday 14 January 2022.

Fees and funding

This is part of NTU's 2022 fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme.

Guidance and support

Download our full applicant guidance notes for more information.

Still need help?

+44 (0)115 941 8418