Media student HANNAH QUINN, from Marsh, was one of the guest editors for a special edition of the Today programme on Radio 4.

Hannah and two of her friends Huzaifah and Cenya all lost loved ones at a young age and wanted to talk openly about their experiences and explore what ‘good grief’ looks like.

As part of the programme they interviewed former England cricket captain Andrew Strauss who set up a foundation in memory of his wife, Ruth, who died of cancer. The Ruth Strauss Foundation supports families facing the death of a parent.

Here, in her own words, Hannah talks about the death of her father John and explains why it is so important to open up about grief.

Looking back on my experience of losing my dad, I don’t recall anybody using a specific phrase that suddenly made his death easier to handle.

The only thing I truly wanted was someone to tell me it was all a joke. If anyone were to dramatically fake their death it would have been John Quinn – he was one of a kind.

Much to my dismay, this did not happen. The weeks after his death consisted of people offering their condolences whilst I grappled with the unbelievable reality that my strong superhero dad had actually been taken by cancer.

But then life moves on, and we have to find ways to piece ourselves back together, despite a new and unwelcome void.

The two things that the human experience guarantees are life and death, yet we have collectively avoided discussing death until it stands directly in front of us.

So, when Radio 4 announced that they were searching for groups with interesting topics to guest edit their Today programme, nothing seemed more important to address than the relationship between society and grief.

March 31: the due date for our application to guest edit, my dad’s anniversary and Cenya’s first birthday without her father.

Huzaifah had heard about the opportunity through his auntie and knew it was not something to pass up. I sat down to write, and our shared observations of grief aligned on the page.

We were all shocked to find out that we had been given the spot, and none of us really knew what to expect.

The following weeks were spent working alongside the wonderful Today programme team who allowed our aspirations for the programme to manifest into something truly capable of making a difference.

The programme involved people who are actively changing the narrative on grief. Andrew Strauss, former England cricket captain, has set up the Ruth Strauss Foundation in memory of his wife and he spoke to us about their work supporting families to ‘do death well.’

They focus on training teachers and healthcare professionals to ensure that the family are prepared and reassured.

We also interviewed regular attendees of a death café in Bradford who encourage open expressions of grief as being celebratory and healing.

An 80-year-old attendee advised us to “live every day, it doesn’t get better than waking up in the morning. Today someone didn’t.”

Our programme assessed the progress occurring in society to better address bereavement. A Bereavement Commission was set up after the pandemic and found that 39% of bereaved people do not feel supported.

The commission’s chair, Dame Sarah Mullalley (Bishop of London), voiced her disappointment around the lack of action following the commission’s recommendations.

Grief can be extremely isolating, especially for children who are less likely to have peers who understand their experience.

The commission highlighted the importance of including education on grief in schools so that all students understand the support available to them and feel comfortable discussing death.

We were joined by commissioner and child psychotherapist, Julia Samuel, who spoke of the positive movement likely to occur when the Relationship, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) reviews its syllabus.

There are ways to speak about death with children that will reassure rather than scare them, but it is important to give them the correct vocabulary to explore the topic for themselves.

Following our programme, we are in touch with the Childhood Bereavement Network to stay informed on the progress of death education being included on the national curriculum.

Hannah (centre) with Cenya (left) and Huzaifah. Images by: Robert Timothy/BBC

Each individual encounter with grief is unique and requires different support so there is no ‘right’ thing to say, but it is having the confidence to say something with care that counts.

Our lost loved ones deserve to be remembered for who they were and what they did in their lives. If we are scared to speak about them, they become defined by their death.

My dad will forever be a part of my identity and his death makes me value every day as we never have long enough.

Our programme was brilliantly presented by Justin Webb and Mishal Husain and we are so grateful to Laura Cooper, Louisa Lewis and Hazel Morgan for making our experience and our programme so special.

To listen to the show go to: