The Philosophy of Grief

Grief is one of the most distressing, unsettling and puzzling experiences that we can face. Our guests Dr Becky Millar and Professor Matthew Ratcliffe look to philosophy to outline some of the key challenges encountered in understanding grief, considering how philosophy can help address them.

The research project, Grief: A Study of Human Emotional Experience, is a philosophical investigation into what it is to experience grief. It focuses on aspects of grief that people struggle to make sense of and to convey to others. In this talk, we examine how grief unfolds over time and how this process is scaffolded by interpersonal relationships.

We focus on how grief involves a gradual process of comprehension or ‘sinking in’, a process that is shaped in important ways by one’s participation in the social world.

Drawing upon our ongoing questionnaire study into first-person experiences of grief, we also discuss ways in which this process of ‘sinking in’ will have been impacted by social restrictions put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Facilitator Becky Millar

Dr Becky Millar

Professor Matthew Ratcliffe, York

Professor Matthew Ratcliffe