The Good Grief Project is our attempt to understand what our lives have come to mean after Josh died. He was on his travels when he lost his life and this journey is a way of continuing to connect with him, to share our story with other bereaved parents and to learn from them some of the many ways that people have found to honour and remember their child … and to survive.
The idea of ‘continuing bonds’, of continuing to have a meaningful relationship with our dead child, is at the heart of our project. The death of a child and the grief that follows really isn’t like other deaths – we do not expect to outlive our children so that when they die before us we are left with so many untold stories that our hearts ache for in ways they won’t for an older parent or a grandparent who comes to the end of life in the natural order of things. The pain and trauma of a child’s death is that much more intense, but it also raises fears and anxieties in those who witness our grief along with an expectation that sooner or later we will move on from our loss and return to normal life. The result can be that bereaved parents feel they are doing something wrong, are becoming too self absorbed, have got stuck or are beginning to ‘wallow’ in their grief.
This is of course not our experience, although I guess there have been time when we have wondered if this might be the case. And this is the impetus that drives the Good Grief Project – to find out how other bereaved parents have adapted to their ‘new normal’ and to bring their stories back home in the form of a documentary film.
So our journey begins in New York City and we plan to drive all the way across the United States (over 5000 miles), and as we go we have arranged to visit about ten families who, like us, have also survived the death a child. From Sandy Hook in Connecticut, to New Orleans, Memphis, Colorado and California, this is a real journey of discovery and we would love to share it with you. We will be on the road over the next seven weeks and then we fly down to Mexico for the Day of the Dead celebrations, and where we expect to find an altogether different approach to death, dying and bereavement. All of this of course on camera (a mention here for the remarkable Layla Meerloo – a friend of Josh’s brother Joe, who has found some great stories for us to film and who will be helping with translations etc.) so that the final documentary we hope will be colourful, entertaining, and life affirming – at the end of the day our message is simple:
‘while we may fear death, we need not fear those who grieve’
You can follow our journey on a new blog we have created here:
‘Good Grief’ is the working title for the documentary we shall be producing. You can watch a short trailer here:
The scale of the production is yet to be decided but we have every expectation that it will bring much needed support and comfort to all those who have suffered the death of their child. This work is for their benefit but filming doesn’t come cheap and you might like to help us achieve our goal by donating on line here:
Thanks for reading
Jimmy and Jane