Our society isn’t particularly good when it comes to grief. We’re not used to talking about it; more often than not we worry so much about saying the right thing that we end up saying nothing at all. It’s even worse when it is parents grieving the loss of their children. We acknowledge that those left behind must be experiencing an unimaginable sense of loss at their worst fears having come true. We turn back to our own lives when their own has been totally devastated, as if unable to bare witness any longer – are we afraid? Answering such questions is the focus of this deeply personal and reflective documentary.
In 2001 Jimmy Edmonds and Jane Harris found out their beloved son had died in a motorbike accident whilst travelling in Vietnam. He was just 22. Their grief remains. It ebbs and flows, scarcely easing as time passes. Many of the people they knew expected them to move on, but the search for meaning and answers remained. They soon realised they were not alone – roughly 6,000 young people under the age of 24 in the UK die every year. They leave behind grieving parents, grandparents, siblings and friends. They established The Good Grief Project as they wanted to help those grieving understand how they are feeling and help them them channel their loss into a creative process as a form of expression. Grief cannot and should not stay silent.
Now they’ve made this documentary – the result of a road trip they undertook in America. Going on the trip itself allowed them to feel close to Josh as they revisited areas they had once been with him. It also allowed them to feel close to other grieving parents as they visited various families along the way. Over a three month period they met and filmed with thirteen different families. Those whose children had died of natural causes, vehicle accidents, drug overdose and of gunshot wounds. How their children died varied, as did the ways their parents grieved. Some parents grieved loudly, others more quietly. Some parents retained anger, some were more accepting. But what united them, every single parent, is how their lives had changed forever when their child had died. As Jimmy himself says early on, ‘We have a sense of before and after a cataclysmic event.’
The documentary doesn’t answer the questions about the nature of grief, it would be impossible for it to do so. Instead it muses upon them, offering personal accounts to help us draw our own conclusions. We grieve because we love. We talk easily about love stories. We must find a way to talk about grieve stories also.
A Love That Never Dies is in UK cinemas from May 18th.