Serious Illness: Grieving for a Life Interrupted

Living with serious illness brings with it many kinds of loss, from changes in relationships and roles and dealing with the physical and emotional effects of medical treatment to grief for a once-imagined future.

Yet experiencing serious illness can also transform our relationships with life and those we love, bringing new insight and appreciation. Facing our mortality can show us a maturity and strength which we may never have known we had.

In this session, our guests talk about their own experiences of living with serious illness, including how they have coped and even thrived in the face of grief. These are crucial lessons for us all.

Festival founder Dr Lucy Selman from the University of Bristol facilitates this panel discussion. Lucy is joined by the following guests.

Kris Hallenga discovered that she had secondary breast cancer at the age of just 23, while on a work placement in China. She was then plunged into frightening territory she knew nothing about. Just two months after her diagnosis, she’d launched the CoppaFeel! breast cancer awareness charity.

Hameed Khan is a British-Pakistani health activist who had open-heart surgery in 2019. Living with heart failure turned Hameed’s life upside-down and he has had to learn to live with the grief of losing his previously good health.

Clair Fisher is a public policy professional who was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in 2018. Clair is collaborating with the What Works Centre for Wellbeing on the Dying Well project. It aims to explore how a focus on patient wellbeing could improve the lives and experiences of those living with terminal illness.



Dr Lucy Selman, c Artur Tixiliski

Dr Lucy Selman

Kris Hallenga

Clair Fisher

Hameed Khan