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Josh in Hanoi, 2011


“But we had no idea how to do anything. We had no idea about the rules, of where things should take place and how they happen. So we started just planning things and we realised that there were no rules, that it could be exactly how we wanted it to be.” The first thing they did was find somewhere


for the funeral to be held. That turned out to be the Matara Centre, a unique venue near Tetbury, in Gloucestershire. A spacious, round function room lit by a wall full of blue fairy lights like an ethereal starfield, it was, Jane said, perfect. She said: “It has this Buddhist influence, which was exactly what we wanted. It was very different to a church and the roundness of the room made it this communal space. “There was no way we wanted a gloomy


and dark affair. We wanted people to smile and laugh and enjoy the day.” The couple appealed to Josh’s friends and


family to contribute to the event, and the result was a string of live musical performances, readings, recorded video announcements from those who could not be there in person - it was a celebration, a testimonial for the things their son was loved for. Josh himself was carried in to his funeral in a casket designed by a friend of the family and built with the help of a group of friends. It was, for many of them, the first time they had done anything like it; been that close to the unspoken side of death. It is quite clear how much the day meant to


accident while driving through Vietnam. Despite the accident happening nearly 9,000


miles away, it was only a matter of hours before mum Jane Harris and dad Jimmy Edmonds heard the shattering news. Jane, 58, said that it came via a knock at the


front door. She said: “It was a policeman. He told us


what happened and I just stared at him. It was unbelievable, the sheer shock of it. “And I can’t really describe what the next few


hours, days and weeks were like. Life just went on around us; we, as a family, just had this huge, overwhelming need to be together.” Jane, and Jimmy, 62, together with daughter


Rosa, 20 and stepson Joe, 34, were united in their grief. And it was the kindness of the community in the village of Chalford Hill which helped life to go on around them while they mourned the loss of Josh. Jane said: “Meals appeared in front of us, food


appeared in our fridge, dishes were somehow cleaned. It was people coming round all the time, making sure we were okay, helping us how they could. It was only afterwards that we


42 Farewell Magazine


were really able to appreciate just how much everyone had helped us.” But, despite the grief, despite the way it


drew them down, away from the duties of life, Jane said she realised there were things which needed to be done. “We had to work out how to deal with


repatriation; with getting Josh’s body back to this country. We could not go over there so Josh was met by a local funeral director, a friend of ours.” Along with the shock of the sudden loss, it


was the fact that none of the family had been able to say goodbye to Josh which was one of the hardest parts of the experience. It was the realisation that this sudden,


unexpected accident had robbed them of the chance to express what they felt for Josh - this energetic, friendly, charismatic young man on the brink of his life - which ignited a new idea: to plan and carry out their son’s funeral. Jane said: “We felt so strongly that we wanted


to say goodbye and we knew we could never do that for real. So this idea, to put his funeral together ourselves became our way of putting that right.


everyone there; the whole thing was captured on video. Being both filmmakers, Jane and Jimmy decided to record the event, not just for personal posterity, but with a view to making it into a public feature. Jane said: “We’re both professionals and we


know the power of a film and we wanted to capture it. Some people found it disconcerting but we wanted throughout to be open with our grief.” What they actually made was two films:


Remembering Josh, a 45-minute personal piece which looks back at their son’s short life through the anecdotes, songs and speeches of his funeral; and Beyond Goodbye, a 30-minute documentary which charts how the couple organised the funeral itself. Hosted on a dedicated website -


beyondgoodbye.co.uk - the films are the centrepiece of a collection of online ideas and collections which remember Josh. Also on the site is a photo gallery, a collection of music inspired by Josh or which remind friends and family of him, and the inspired “Postcards to Josh”. Jane said: “The idea with the postcards was that, wherever his friends or family went in the


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