Reverend Richard Coles opens up about grief at Sussex arts festival

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Toby Winson

For the broadcaster and vicar Richard Coles, comforting those in mourning is part of his daily duties. But shortly before Christmas 2019, his life was rocked when his partner of 12 years died after a battle with alcoholism. He is now sharing his experiences in a new book.  

Richard recalls: "David, his death took four days, we were up for the duration. So by the end of it we were completely wiped out, and I think that's something I've never really understood before was just how exhausting it is. 

"The world is very turbulent when you lose someone and the compass spins, but it's tough. It's really hard."

This week, he has been at the Rye Arts Festival in Sussex to talk about the new book on grief.

Inside, he shares his own deeply personal experiences of loss and explains how others helped him cope.

He said, on writing the book: "In a way it was actually quite an easy book to write. Partly because what was happening to me was so intense. 

"Partly because when you lose someone all you really want to do is... what I wanted to do was... to kind of hold onto as much of them as I could.

"So it was a way of hanging on I think."

David was just 43 when alcohol addiction took his life

Richard's partner, David, was just 43 when alcohol addiction took his life.

He says talking to other people who have been through something similar has helped him get through.

"Alcoholism hurts lots of people all the time and one of the ways you can address that I think is by having an honest conversation about it.

"But being around other people who've been through the same thing was for me, it was really good."

Rye Arts Festival continues until Sunday (26 September).

If you are worried about your drinking, or alcohol consumption or indeed, worried on behalf of anyone else, here is a list of organisations that can help.

  • Drinkchat - Free online chat service for anyone who is looking for information or advice about their own, or someone else’s, drinking. Trained advisors are on hand to give you confidential advice.

  • Drinkline - Free, confidential helpline for anyone who is concerned about their drinking, or someone else's.

  • We Are With You (formerly Addaction) - UK-wide treatment agency, helping individuals, families and communities to manage the effects of drug and alcohol misuse.

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Great Britain - AA supports the recovery and continued sobriety of individuals. Meetings are available online and in person.