As a former contestant on the United Kingdom version of The X Factor, a member of the popular boy band Union J, and an accomplished radio host, George Shelley has known worldwide fame and adulation. In the spring of 2017, he also became acquainted with unbearable heartbreak when his sister Harriet perished in a freak road accident. George Shelley: Learning to Grieve follows Shelley as he struggles through the process of accepting his loss.
Following his sister's accident, Shelley shunned the meteoric path he had enjoyed previously. He was emotionally crippled, and could no longer write or sing.
Fumbling his way through grief, Shelley hopes he can come to terms with his sister's untimely death, and find the motivation and serenity he needs to continue on with his life. He hopes this journey, as depicted in the film, will inspire others who are dealing with similar trauma.
He returns to his childhood home in Clevedon in Somserset, England, where he and his sister first began building the blocks of a close relationship that thrived until the time of her death. He escorts his mother to the grave site, and share deeply confessional feelings on the nature of their loss and fight for recovery.
The film is also an insightful portrait of depression. Shelley seeks out a variety of tools to help overcome his moments of debilitating sadness, including meditation, yoga and color therapy.
But the human touch proves most meaningful to Shelley throughout his journey. The presence of his best friend Emily - a compassionate young woman who also maintained a close relationship with Harriet - provides Shelley with a supportive companion who truly understands. He also visits others who have toiled with the overcoming weight of grief, including those who have lost relatives, livelihoods, and the will to live.
Deeply personal and affecting, George Shelley: Learning to Grieve is a brave foray into a mental state that feels taboo for many. But its ultimate value lies in its determination to destigmatize the process of grief. Death and loss are subjects many people are loathe to contemplate, but it's an essential part of the human experience that we all must prepare for.