Sue Ryder Empty Chair Exhibit

I attended The ‘Empty Chair’ exhibit today in Parliament in the Upper Waiting area and sponsored by my colleagues Peter Dowd MP and Tobias Ellwood MP which is part of Sue Ryder’s Grief Kind campaign. It aims to equip the nation with the knowledge and tools to meet grief with warmth and acceptance, instead of shying away from open conversations. A key part of this is building awareness of bereavement and grief and creating conversations about how we can better support one another. 

The Empty Chair exhibit highlights people from around the UK’s experiences of being bereaved. Empty chairs around a dining table are a visual representation of someone who has died and the place setting is surrounded with items that were important to them. Accompanying these items is a quote from a loved one highlighting their experiences of bereavement and grief. 

Over 650,000 people died in the UK in 2021, and it is estimated that for every death, nine people are affected by bereavement. Thousands of people are affected by bereavement every year. Too many bereaved people are not getting the support they need while they grieve. 

Sue Ryder research found that:

  • 72% of people who have experienced a bereavement have skipped meals because they don’t like eating alone
  • 59% of grieving people said that being invited over for dinner helped with their grief

And Sue Ryder’s 2022 research report ‘A better route through grief: Support for people facing grief across the UK’ found:

  • 70% of respondents who had experienced a close bereavement said that they could not access the support they would have liked
  • The most common types of formal support that people wanted but were not able to access were counselling (28%), financial support (28%), written information (25%) and mentoring/befriending (24%)
  • 85% of people who received formal support said it had led to an improvement in how they felt

A link to the support services that Sue Ryder offers can be found here: How we can help | Sue Ryder