It’s the Netflix smash hit that has helped highlight the punishing trials of grief and spark conversations about something that all of us will experience, but so many of us struggle to discuss openly. And now, the Ricky Gervais-penned After Life has teamed up with mental health charity CALM to install 25 benches around the country. The aim? To shine a light on the power of talking and sharing honestly about our struggles.
Each one is inscribed with ‘Hope Is Everything’, a key quote from the series. Anyone who’s watched the show will know that Gervais’ character, Tony, who has lost his wife to cancer, often shares a bench in the cemetery with Anne, played by Penelope Wilton, whose own husband has also died.
It’s through this burgeoning and open friendship that both are able to work their grief, taking the time to sit and reflect.
The benches are aimed at normalising the challenging and difficult feelings that arise from grief. After Life has also been the catalyst for CALM’s new Stay campaign.
After Life & CALM’s ‘Stay’ Campaign
With 125 people a week in the UK taking their own lives, the campaign is all about reminding those struggling with suicidal thoughts that there is always someone who wants them to stay alive. These feelings can be especially acute after the loss of someone close.
“Park benches provide opportunities to reflect, talk to someone, sit shoulder to shoulder with someone and get things off your chest,” said a spokesperson from CALM.
“Indeed, Ricky Gervais’ character is saved by talking to people. But for many that can be difficult. This is why our partnership with Netflix and After life is so important. We want to remove the stigma surrounding mental health and suicide. We’re also hoping to show people that even when things are getting too much, there’s always hope. There’s always someone that cares.”
Dedicated charities and helplines offering grief support
Open 5pm to midnight, 365 days a year, web chat available at thecalmzone.net
Open 9.30am-5pm on Monday and Friday, 9.30am-8pm Tuesday to Thursday, 10am-2pm Saturday and Sunday, Cruse Chat web service 9am-9pm Monday to Friday, cruse.org.uk
For information on local support services. mind.org.uk also has resources for those dealing with grief or worried about some who is struggling.
Words: Joe Minihane