WHY DO I SHARE MY GRIEF – a new blog by Mark Oborn

We recently found this blog by Mark Oborn – below is our letter to him

 Coping after the death of my wife & loved one


Dear Mark

First off, I’m so sorry about the sudden death of your sweetheart – I do know something of the pain and confusion, the despair and deep anguish you are going through, so I want to send you my own feelings of compassion and love at this time. I haven’t read much of your blog yet but the fact that you are sharing stuff so soon after Claire’s death is, I believe, not just a brave thing but a healing thing too and the hopefully the best way forward. As you say, being public about your grief helps you to feel normal, that you are not alone and from that we can all take huge amounts of comfort.

Our son Joshua died in early 2011 and I too immediately started to write and muse about how my interests in photography could help see me through. I didn’t publish anything at first, but then we started our own website to honour and remember Josh – – and that has led us to get involved with a number of charities dedicated to helping people through grief, and try and get a bit more acceptance in what people describe as our ‘death averse culture’. Have to say it has not been easy, but then it was not really a conscious decision to go ‘public’ with our grief – it just happened cos that’s what we do and we wanted to able able to stay in touch as much as possible with all Josh’s friends – and where better than on-line. The difficult bit has been the way many of our close friends (in the ‘real’ world) seemed to have been scared off but our continual mention of Josh and the public things we have done for him since he died – grief is traditionally seen as a private matter – it does afterall get in the way of life’s day to day business of earning a living, cleaning the car, watching footer, having sex and generally being happy and productive. Or does it? Possibly, but only if you see grief as something in which we shut ourselves away in a darkened room so that we can be miserable all the time. Which of course it is not.  And that said, two and a half years after Josh died and all those difficult feelings that we and our friends have experienced have now begun to ‘normalise’, I think that by not hiding away (although I still do that a lot of the time) we have been able to face fears (for many the worst fear they could imagine – the death of their own child) by sharing them and in doing so all our lives are enriched – at least I hope so.

So thank you for sharing your grief – its not a shameful thing and these days I believe its not such a difficult thing – the internet has given us such great opportunities in this regard – you have made us feel a bit more normal and I hope you feel the same.

with best regards


August 2013


read Mark’s blog here         Coping after the death of my wife & loved one

Friends in the Blogosphere

How do you spell blogosphere?   We’ve not really been there before but now that a number of blogs have been spreading news about BEYOND GOODBYE, I guess its time we took a look.

First off, this lovely woman from across the border in Scotland added an item about the film on her site – see it here final fling.   Final Fling is a great site started by one Barbara Chalmers who has dashing white hair and wears bright red lipstick.    From what I can gather she’s an artist, a life coach, an independent celebrant and plays in a samba band. How she finds time to put this site together is beyond belief but its full of masses of information about what to do to prepare for a good death and a good funeral.     Nice site Barbara – and thanks for spreading the word about our film.

You’ll also find Beyond Goodbye on the front page of the Natural Death Centre’s website . Here they’ve used it as an example of what is a good funeral. The Natural Death Centre is the main resource in this country for independent funeral advice.  They see their role as “playing a central part in demystifying the traditional funeral, encouraging thousands of families in having the kind of funerals they wanted, and helping create opportunity for new rituals to emerge.”

Earlier in the year the film had been featured on Seven Ponds, a website on the west coast of USA – see here for some of the comments.     Seven Ponds also blogged about Rosa’s show In Absentia.      Suzette Sherman, founder of Seven Ponds says in her introduction, “We see a world where everyone can experience death in their own personal way and feel it’s all okay”.    Everyone’s death is unique and everyone will experience grief differently.   Seven Ponds is a fantastic resource for helping people to embrace end of life with real love and compassion.   As well as being environmental friendly, with advice about planning a home funeral (home births why not home funerals?) the site also has masses of examples of the ways people have responded to death and dying in art and creativity.

Dying Matters is part of the National Council for Palliative Care with a mission “to support changing knowledge, attitudes and behaviours towards death, dying and bereavement, and through this to make ‘living and dying well’ the norm”.      Its actually a coalition of various organisations across the NHS, voluntary health and care sectors, trade unions, the funeral industry and more.      It’s website recently featured our contribution to their Day of the Dead conference.   We had showed our film at the event and  Jane’s had spoken about bereaved parents being peoples worst nightmare.    The article Turning grief into positive action quotes her “our aim is to share our grief in a positive way, both for people who know us and those who don’t. We hope that in our death-averse culture, by bringing our experience into the public domain it will encourage others to open up more about an area so shrouded in silence…. Our aim was, and still is, to celebrate Josh’s life as well as mourn his death.”

Another American site (they seem to talk about death a little easier across the pond) had also blogged about our film soon after it was finished. The Daily Undertaker’s editor Patrick McNally reproduced an interview with both of us and you can read that here Beyond Goodbye: A Conversation with Jimmy Edmonds and Jane Harris. Bit of a surprise though when we found put that we’d been tweeted by Robin Ince who been looking for Cookie Meuller and found Rosa’s article – Making it Real.  (Robin Ince is a stand up comic BTW)

The one thing in common with all these links is the wish for people to have meaningful and life affirming experiences of death, dying and bereavement.    And the best way to do that is to talk,  to share feelings, and be a support for one another.    What’s amazing is that through the internet, it’s now possible to find a sense of universal understanding and compassion from people we may most likely never meet.       We are glad that, from our own tragedy, others have found some comfort (and perhaps example) from the things we’ve done for Josh.


Jimmy and Jane


December 2012






Coping with Grief via Facebook

We like to give big thanks to Tom Kihl who has helped enormously to build this website – (well he’s done the whole thing really).

We first heard about Tom in the days after Josh died when we were alerted to his blog   Coping with Grief via Facebook.

Tom was on the train to work when he read about Josh’s accident on Facebook and wonders whether social media with all their trivialities are the best place to be dealing with death and grief. But  he also suggests that “for all the scare stories about social networks eroding cultural values, they equally offer a very traditional form of support during difficult times. And if they make speaking about – and therefore coping with – death a little easier for us collectively then that is surely only a benefit to society, however we end up redrawing the lines of etiquette and media behaviour.”

I find this a fascinating idea – if only because our friend Jessica Nathan (she of wonderful voice at Josh’s funeral) also commented – “people don’t really die on-line”   – discuss!