THE GOOD GRIEF PROJECT has now entered a new phase.   As you will know Jane and I travelled to the USA and Mexico last year in order to meet with and film other bereaved parents as part of an on going project to collect and publish stories of how people grieve for a child.    Seven of these stories now form the substance of our rough cut for a 90 minute documentary which we are hoping to release this coming September along with brand new websites, both for Good Grief and Beyond Goodbye.

And to help promote the project and to keep you all in the loop we have recently completed a short 6 minute trail for the documentary – check it out above.    We hope you like it; we hope you are energised by it and we hope you are as excited about it as we are.   This is our calling card for THE GOOD GRIEF PROJECT and our biggest hope is that it will help us to generate much more publicity and … more funding.

This is important – our dream is that THE GOOD GRIEF PROJECT becomes a unique collection of many different stories and experiences of grief from around the world.  Jane and I have found that telling the story of Josh’s death and the story of our grief  (Beyond Goodbye, Released) has been  really important in our efforts to face our new reality. And as we filmed with other bereaved families we discovered that in sharing our grief and listening to their stories, not only we did we find new friends, we have been able help each other recognise and validate feelings, (whether they be of sadness, guilt, anger, or love) and to accept that they are ‘normal’ in our ‘abnormal’ situation. We now believe that the very act of sharing our grief goes a long way in helping the bereaved come to terms with loss.

 Loss is not optional but an unavoidable part of being human 

So now we want to help others to do the same.   In a way the focus of the project has shifted somewhat.  Initially we had planned to concentrate on some of the more creative ways that people have found to grieve for their child.  But as we travelled on, meeting new people all the time, we realised that all and every response to trauma and loss such as ours is a creative act.  How many times did we hear ‘what do we do now’, ‘we’ve never done this before’, ‘no-one told us how to grieve’.  The loss of a child is always unnatural and often comes right out of the blue – even with a child with a life threatening illness you never ever give up hope.  So whatever you do do, whatever you find to dig yourself out of a seemingly impossible situation is a feat of great strength and courage as well as a uniquely creative process – it has to be.  And just as the love we have for our children is unique, so the grief we now feel and our response to it is highly personal and individual.   We have given life and and we have lost that life. Now we must find a way to honour our dead child and to carry on living … that is creativity in its most basic form.

scarlett with chalkboard WC

Scarlett Lewis with a photo of the chalk board that he son had written ‘nurturing healing love’ just days before he was murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“I think its really important that people not shy away from grief, that people understand that there are actually benefits of grieving”  (Scarlett Lewis – bereaved mother, Sandy Hook)

We’ve started with 13 stories from USA and Mexico (of which 8 have made they way into the rough cut – the remainder will be condensed into short clips and published on the new website along with in depth interviews with academics and experts in the field of trauma, loss and bereavement).    Our plan is to continue the process of interviewing grieving families, editing them into short clips and compiling a catalogue of testimonies and observations of what it means to grieve in contemporary society – and especially what it means to grieve for the worst loss of all – that of a child.

Unlike other websites our emphasis is on the visual.  Each contribution to the THE GOOD GRIEF PROJECT will have a strong audio-visual impact either as filmed clips or as photo stories.

We are documentarists and we want to tell stories that appeal to both the bereaved and the non-bereaved in a dynamic and accessible way.

But we can’t do this without help.

Having viewed our trailer I suspect that you are wondering how you can become involved – if that’s the case then there are a number of options we’d like to suggest –

the first is to share our trailer video as widely as you can

the second is share your skills – if you have creative skills of any kind we be very eager to hear from you – particularly if you are digitally minded

the third is to share your story – if you want to tell your story in the way others have already, then please do contact us.  There is no obligation and we will make plenty of time to discuss what it means and to explore what you would hope to gain from the experience of filming. We know that this isn’t for everyone but we are learning that there is something very cathartic about talking about your grief on camera.  You can decide how much or how little you want to divulge, but to see your thoughts reflected back in a video recording and to know that others have viewed it and can identify with it, can give a new sense of power over your life.   That power that has been fractured or lost as a result of the trauma of your child’s death can be restored merely by telling your story – and to tell it on camera and for the benefit of others.

the forth is financial – to date the project has cost close on £30K. We’ve had grants to the value of £18K with the remainder coming from our own pockets.   We estimate that to complete the documentary and build the new website will cost about £50K.     We are hugely grateful to the support we have had so far from the Winston Churchill Fund and the Jessica Mathers Trust as well as to all of you who contributed to our initial crowd funding campaign.   At this stage there is no plan to repeat this campaign as we will be working hard to source institutional funding to cover the next stage of the project.    But we do know that a personal investment can make a huge difference, not least because of the personal connection we will make with you so we are not ruling that out.  Please stay in touch and we’ll keep you posted of ways to donate but in the meantime any ideas you might have for sources of big money we’d love to hear them.

This project is for our Josh  and for all those who have survived the untimely death of a child.    For us its a huge undertaking but also hugely significant in giving meaning to our grief – this is what we want to share with the world and we are grateful for your continuing interest.
Thanks for reading
Jimmy and Jane (June 2016)
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Taking Josh with us on our travels

From tragedy to growth, from despair to hope, in pain we find love.