We are thrilled to announce that our book ‘When Words Are Not Enough – creative responses to grief‘ will be published by Hawthorn Press in October 2022!
‘When Words are not Enough’ is our attempt to bridge the divide between the silence that surrounds grief and the lived experience of the bereaved. The book charts our own responses to Joshua’s death along with contributions from 14 other grievers who have also found solace from doing and creating new things following the death of a loved one.
We’ve now had over a decade living without Josh. During that time we have come to realise that our grief has been a series of creative acts. Accommodating his loss into our on-going lives has been about finding various ways to fill the void left by his absence. In that sense everything we do to attend to our grief (including this book) is about making something new, something that didn’t and couldn’t have existed unless he had died.
Throughout history people have needed to talk about their grief, but much in contemporary society tells us that grief is a depressing, morbid subject. ‘When Words Are Not Enough’ is a necessary counterweight to those who would have us hide grief away. In both word and image, all the stories told here, from visual story tellers who reimagine their loved ones depicted in their own lives now, to artists who have taken their children’s artworks as a basis for their own creations, to those who have found peace in their music and their poetry, to some who relish the challenge of diving into cold waters as a way of connecting with their children. All are very different and uniquely creative responses to trauma following the death of a loved one and testament to the value of a shared and more openly expressed grief.
As we know grief takes many shapes and colours. It is not just about sitting in a darkened room (although it can be that). For us it’s everyday stuff. It’s in the things we do from getting up in the morning, eating, drinking, working, playing, running, making photos, watching telly, and simply sitting and watching the world go by. In the years since Josh died, we’ve been able to find some peace and comfort in acknowledging this ‘everyday’ presence of our grief. This wasn’t true at the beginning, but by and by we’ve learnt to be more open, less afraid to talk and share our grief with others.
Employing our love of film and photography has helped. Creating any art form can be as long or as short as you want but basically we can see three main elements or stages to the process – first you must have an idea, second you must act, do or make something to make it real (the creative bit) and lastly you share it with others. We would say this is the crucial bit … it takes courage (especially if this is not something you are used to) to reveal what can be some of your innermost and difficult thoughts and emotions and display them to an audience. At the same time the feedback and appreciation we receive in return can be an important recognition and validation of your grief, especially if the work you have create resonates with the viewer/reader/listener. We hope that the new book ‘When Words are not Enough‘ captures some of these ideas … ideas that have evolved from the work we do on our Active Grief Weekends – where sharing our stories in a space dedicated to an appreciation of different ways of expressing grief, not just with words.
Breaking through the silence is essential, both for our own sanity and to widen a more compassionate conversation about death, dying and bereavement. ‘When Words Are Not Enough’ is the result of much searching, of much trial and error, lots of experiments to find a new way of grieving, a new way of living, of being active and doing stuff, and of trying to find a more equitable language to express grief. We hope that in the book you might find resonances with your loss and maybe find inspiration to tell your story.
Publication for ‘When Words Are Not Enough’ is still a long way off – but watch out for news and little extracts as we get nearer the launch date. To whet your appetite here’s snippet from Ruth Fitzmaurice, wild swimmer and author of ‘I Found my Tribe’.
“Grief was a rude awakening. It woke me to the fact I have a soul at all. A soul is harder to ignore when it is screaming. There is nothing pleasant about it, but you gain a new alertness. A soul in pain is a soul that has woken up.... It stirred up my creative energy, because I had no choice but to write my way out of this. I wrote like a maniac and realised my words had a beat to them too, much like a song. The soul is our own inner landscape and its natural rhythms are musical and breathtaking as the biggest view.
I am my words and my soul is me."Ruth Fitzmaurice
Thanks for reading
Jimmy and Jane