Jessica Hanson

Writer for and specialist in death, dying and bereavement.

Jessica devotes her time to reading, writing and thinking about end of life issues, and is a champion of the view that talking about death is the best way to live a full life. Writing for, a free online resource for the bereaved, Jessica has a unique insight into death and grief in the modern age.

The Reaction To Patton Oswalt's Engagement Proves We Don't Understand Grief

For grief counsellors, it's become almost a mantra: "There is no timeline for grief." This idea that there's a neat timeline of 'mourning', 'getting over it' and 'ready to re-marry' is not only wrong, it's directly harmful to those coping with grief. So many bereaved people beat themselves up for not being 'over it' yet, or for moving on too quickly. The truth is that ways of grieving are as diverse and different as the people grieving and it's nobody else's business how someone reacts to the death of their partner.
09/07/2017 20:27 BST

We've Got The Five Stages Of Grief Wrong

I am not a bereavement counsellor, but I do spend the vast majority of my waking hours reading, writing and thinking about grief. If Sarah and I were any less close as friends, I probably wouldn't venture to comment on her way of grieving.
22/06/2017 17:13 BST

Why Trips To The Cemetery Aren't Just For 'Big Fat Goths'

I'm talking about tomb tourism. Many fellow taphophiles (that's a lover of gravestones and cemeteries) and I regularly take time out of our weekends to wander among the dearly departed, taking in the sights and sounds of the graveyard.
11/06/2017 19:24 BST

A Long Goodbye: When Dementia Takes Someone You Love

Slowly, painfully slowly, the good days were fewer and fewer, and our visits mainly consisted of us trying to make conversation with someone who barely knew we were there. My grandma would dutifully feed him biscuits when we visited. A woman in the corner of the day room, with white hair that stood on end, screamed periodically like a crowing rooster. The nurses seemed kind.
14/05/2017 17:28 BST

Don't Kid Yourself - You Should Be Planning Your Funeral

So why do people make these offhand comments? I think it's a way of denying our mortality. As much as we intellectually know that one day we will die, a deep part of our psyche is fighting that fact. When we say, "It doesn't matter", partly it's because we don't want to admit that one day, inevitably, it definitely will matter.
09/05/2017 12:22 BST

Memorial Tattoos: How Getting Inked Is Helping People Deal With Grief

"I wanted to get a tattoo, I think to have a physical connection still with him. Yes, I claimed a hoody and a favourite shirt of his, but I wanted something to represent the fact that our love never spoiled. Something that marked me as his. I think if I was thinking rationally at the time, that's how I would have put my feelings into words."
27/04/2017 17:30 BST

If Grieving Parents Aren't Worthy Of Help, Who Is?

Losing a child is one of the most painful, life-altering experiences anyone can endure. Surely, if anyone deserves to have an extra financial burden lifted, it is these parents? If we want to live in a society that helps the most vulnerable, that holds out a hand to those who are struggling to go on, how can we ever justify charging parents the cost of burying their child?
06/12/2016 17:27 GMT

Life, The Universe And Everything: Five Things I Learnt At A Death Cafe

I was open minded, but couldn't help but feel that the whole experience would be incredibly awkward. Thankfully, Aly and her co-host, Gina Awad of Exeter Dementia Action Alliance, made it relaxed, friendly and thought-provoking. Here are just a few things I learnt in my two hours discussing all things death, dying and bereavement.
19/09/2016 13:19 BST

#RIP: The Virtual Reality Of Grieving Online

It is clear that mourning and grief are being moved into a digital space. It was happening before developers even realised it; social media became a natural extension of daily life and all its rituals. But what is not clear is if that transition has an impact on the value of those mourning behaviours. Can a virtual candle ever be as meaningful as a real one?
14/09/2016 17:37 BST