Bill Bailey: Sometimes I still go to text Sean Lock... | Comedian opens up about the grief for his friend

Bill Bailey: Sometimes I still go to text Sean Lock...

Comedian opens up about the grief for his friend

Bill Bailey has spoken about how he still experiences grief over the death of Sean Lock.

Opening up at a bereavement charity event, he told of how he still thinks of his friend – who died of lung cancer in  August 2021 at the age of 58 – almost forgetting he is no longer with us.

Bill said: ‘The nature of grief means that there are those moments that just keep happening. 

‘Those triggers - you never know when they're going to arrive, and you know never know from what source they'll come or what the catalyst will be.  They can sometimes just ambush [you]. 

‘It's happened to me on a few occasions with Sean and it can be anything. Sometimes, I see something and think "Oh I should tell Sean" and I go to text him. I see something funny and think that he’d like that. There’s a location, a piece of music, even a taste and it takes me back.

‘Sean thought a great deal of his own situation and he was brilliant. Through him I learned that the only thing we can control is how we feel about something, our own emotions and how we deal with it. 

‘Sean would read the stoics; he introduced me to the concept. You know you can't control what happens to you, life just happens, sometimes just like a random curveball will come out of nowhere. What the stoics taught him – and through him, I learned too –  was that we can only control our emotions. In a way I found tremendous comfort in that. 

‘Sean and I used to walk a lot - long walks. I'd take the tea in the Thermos, and he would take the picnic. He was very, very specific about what he wanted, a certain kind of bread certain kind of cheese and the other day I was with somebody who was doing exactly that, we were getting some cheese and bread out so and suddenly I’m transported to a field somewhere in Hertfordshire where Sean and I had sat for a picnic.

‘Those moments are always with us, you don’t attribute them to a particular artefact, it’s the act of walking, laughing, those memories inhabit that space.'

Bill also expressed how he found relief in writing following his bereavement. He says, "There's a complex relationship with the creative process because if you go through some traumatic  event whether it's grief or anything else that could have a cauterising effect on your emotions.

‘Something I’ve noticed in myself is that when I had any experience of grief, I found that writing about it is a hugely beneficial way to access those feelings in a way that perhaps talking sometimes doesn’t give.

‘I suppose even humour comes from hardship, doesn’t it? I've often had letters from people who say that they've been going through a tough time, and they come to a comedy show and they just feel like they’re getting out of themselves. Sometimes it's good to just have a laugh about something.’

Bill and Sean on countdown

Bill shared his experiences as part of a charity event that raised nearly £46,000 for childhood bereavement charity Winston’s Wish.  Between April 2022 and March 2023 Winston’s Wish supported more than 60,000 children and young people (up to the age of 25) after the death of someone important.

He has previously participated in a charity walk in Lock’s memory, raising more than £100,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support. And last year Bill revealed that his friend was still cracking gags in his final days. ‘Even in his last few days, we were still having a laugh, still joking, still coming up with ideas,’ he said.

‘We had great conversations. I brought in my guitar and sang him his favourite Johnny Cash songs.’

Here is Bill’s full interview with one of the Winston’s Wish youth ambassadors:

Speak to a Winston’s Wish  bereavement support worker by calling 08088 020 021, emailing or using the live chat at

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Published: 14 Nov 2023

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