Jane Harris is a psychotherapist and bereavement specialist. Jimmy Edmonds is a photographer and documentary film editor with over 100 credits on TV productions including the BAFTA winning Chosen for Channel 4. Together they run Active Grief Retreats as The Good Grief Project. This is their first book, exploring active and creative responses to grief and how they can help you to survive.
When Words are Not Enough explores the many ways that bereaved families find to express their loss. The authors’ son was killed in a traffic accident in 2011. Ten years on they reflect on their journey and how they have used their creativity to survive their grief and maintain an on-going relationship with their son Josh.
‘When Words Not Enough is our attempt to bridge the divide between the silence that surrounds grief and the lived experience of the bereaved.’
Beautifully illustrated, the book explores their own responses to Josh’s death along with contributions from 14 others who have also found solace from doing and creating new things following the death of a loved one.
Over time we have come to realise that our grief has been a series of creative acts.
Jane Harris is a psychotherapist; Jimmy Edmonds is a photographer and documentary filmmaker. Together they have created The Good Grief Project, a charity dedicated to a proactive approach to grief. With ideas that flow from the concept of ‘continuing bonds’, not cutting off from the deceased, they have developed their Active Grief programme, a series of residential retreats and workshops that help other bereaved parents and siblings discover new and imaginative ways of expressing their grief. Grief is energy, they say, and their own skills have also enabled them to make a number of significant films (including the award winning A Love That Never Dies) that speak to a new appreciation of what it means to grieve in a society that often has difficulty talking openly about death, dying and bereavement.
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 our grief away. In both word and image, all the stories told here, from visual storytellers who reimagine their loved ones depicted in their 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.
Everything we do to attend to our grief, the authors claim is about accommodating the loss of a loved one into our on-going lives, of filling the void left by their absence. Almost by definition grief, they argue, is a creative process. It’s about making something new, something that didn’t and couldn’t have existed unless they had died.
Jane Harris is a psychotherapist, bereavement specialist and public speaker with special interest in family relations. Jimmy Edmonds is a photographer and documentary film editor with over 100 credits on TV productions including the BAFTA winning ‘Chosen’ for Channel 4 and his own personal film ‘Breaking the Silence’ for BBC 1. Together they have created The Good Grief Project, and produced several films including Gerry’s Legacy, Beyond Goodbye, A Love That Never Dies, Say Their Name, and Beyond the Mask. They have two surviving children Joe (a personal trainer) and Rosa (film production) both of whom are part of the team delivering the Active Grief Weekend retreats.
Endorsements for When Words are Not Enough
This is a deeply personal and beautiful reflection on grief. The uniqueness of the book is found in the way that Jane and Jimmy draw on their own experience of loss, and how the death of their son Josh led to a creative and transformative process. The emphasis on ‘continuing bonds’ and their own way of maintaining a relationship with Josh, is both emotional and practical. Echoed in the case studies, it illustrates how this is a normal and restorative aspect of the grieving process. The book incorporates beautiful images and photographs that provide a window into the creative soul of the contributors. Stories of loss, deep sadness, creativity and hope are shared; creativity (which may initially emerge as an unconscious process), provides meaning, and shapes lives, where those no longer physically present remain within the lives of those left behind.
Dr Janet Richardson RN BSc PhD, Professor Emeritus, School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Plymouth, Devon, UK Bereavement Volunteer with Cruse Bereavement Support