Our family celebrated Josh's 42nd birthday in different ways and in different locations this year as we each continued our grief journey together and apart. I celebrated this hard but beautiful day with some dear friends in Dallas who attended seminary with us. It was a wonderful evening.
As the final post on this Journey with Josh blog, it seems strangely fitting that this is the 42nd post on what would be his 42nd birthday
Within grief, each day is an adventure of its own and there is no perfect way to grieve. My desire is to continue to share honestly the highs and lows of this next chapter. I will continue to write and share my heart on the grieving on page (or site).
Thank you for following this hard and hopeful journey.
On Saturday, October 5, we celebrated the life of Josh Brown. It was a beautiful and hard day that we shared together as friends and family. I have to admit, I was pretty stressed about the whole thing wanting everything to go smoothly so that we could truly honor Josh in the best way possible.
God was with us through each word, song, lantern release and moment. The day and night as another example of how God has been with us each step of the way. Our family found much encouragement in the various ways people shared their love and support with other candlelight and ballon release moments all across the nation as well.
Interestingly, this post here is the 41st post I have made on this blog thread, and will probably be the last one for this page, until next year. I'll continue to write my story under the Grieving On section.
Below is the full video of the Celebration of Life services. Additionally, below are links to the full messages that we pulled snippets from and links to the other service videos.
Thank you all again so much for loving us all so well and for your continued prayers for each of us as we navigate the new normal.
And for the record, I still love Josh Brown.
There are some days that I have wanted to forget and start over, and even change the outcome or the prognosis if possible.
But today, even in coming face to face with the hardest of hard situations, I want to remember every single detail.
On this day, we honored Josh Brown. My husband, my friend, my love.
We took a lot of big deep breaths and walked in together as a family to a room full of family and friends. We shared stories of Josh’s life, showed clips of him speaking God’s truth; we laughed, cried and leaned into this big mess. God was honored and so was the man we came to celebrate.
The flowers, photos, media, music and messages weaved together in a way that only God could design. God’s sense of humor with the weather also made me smile. The morning sunny, with a major rain storm in the afternoon, that cleared up just in time for the 6 p.m. potluck, and stayed clear the rest of the evening with a few light sprinkles at 8.
Friends and family shared Josh stories in small groups and through the loud speaker. My amazing group of friends organized the music, tables for the potluck and added special touches that reminded me again of their love and friendship - from many kinds of lemonade to peacock cupcakes and even goofy Casey’s pizza. It was a true good-old-fashion potluck. Josh would have loved it, the fellowship, community and more. He may have even thrown out one of his favorite Greek words, Koinonia.*
The evening wrapped up with a lantern release. Groups gathered to light the large lanterns, with a little more than 40 lifting in staggered breaths into the night sky. It was beautiful. Tears flowed down my face as I leaned into the moment of “letting go.” It’s going to take me a real long time to truly “let go” but tonight did my heart good. My spirit was lifted too. There were even a few comic moments where one lantern landed precariously in a tree and another ran into a person's back. Thankful it all ended safely.
As I stood with a few last friends at the end of the night, the song of one of our most favorite artists, Josh Ritter rang out. Homecoming. While the lyrics don’t reflect our story, the chorus of Homecoming made me think of all of our friends coming back “home” together for this night – a night where we honored Josh’s homecoming to heaven.
Today was truly special.
I will rest a little easier tonight knowing that we made it through this day.
Thank you God once again for Josh Brown. We are all better because of his life here and the time we had together, even though we all agree it was too short.
Learn more about the word Koinonia
In case you missed it, here's a link to the full obituary posting.
Here’s a link to the recorded service: vimeo.com/365315669
A Celebration of Life & Memorial Service for Josh Brown will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, October 5, at Calvary Baptist Church in Republic, Missouri.
We have chosen to donate Josh’s body to medical science research*, meaning we will not have a graveside service. As a way to continue celebrating and sharing about Josh, we will hold a luminary service and potluck meal the evening of Saturday, October 5 at the Amphitheater by J.R. Martin Park in Republic. (Get Directions here).
We ask that you bring food items to share with friends and family beginning at 6 p.m. (potluck style) and lawn chairs, if needed.
We will release luminary lanterns into the sky at 8 p.m as we gather.
If you are unable to attend the services but still want to join us in celebrating Josh’s life, we encourage you to release lanterns or balloons, light sparklers or candles at the same time as us (8 p.m. Central Time). Feel free to video, photograph and share your experience using the #joshbrown2019 on social media.
In lieu of flowers, our family requests donations be made to an organization that we know is making a difference around the world called When I Grow Up.
You can also plant a tree in the U.S. National Forest in honor of Josh though the organization, The Trees Remember.
Note about dress:
Come dressed however you'd like, dressy or casual - maybe something warm for the outdoor evening.
Josh always enjoyed a good silly t-shirt and a good cardigan so feel free to wear your most witty one.
*Donation Note - Josh has experienced a lot physically. He had a lung removed and thyroid gland removed, faced cancer four times and more. We are honoring Josh (and Jenn's) desire to continue to help make a difference through medical research with a whole body donation to The Genesis Legacy Program.
In April of 2019, we learned that Josh had a large brain tumor, a glioblastoma, in the middle of his brain. At the age of 41, this was quite the surprise. Josh sadly passed away after a short battle on September 30, 2019.
View his obituary
These past months, we've navigated the complexities of treatment, and hospice care and learned that there wasn't really treatment and that in Josh's case, the tumor was inoperable.
We're sharing our hearts and experience as we navigate this unexpected turn and God's goodness in the middle of it. We hope to encourage others by sharing our story.
Thank you for following along with our journey even in grief.
Feel free to message us.
If you'd like to donate to medical expenses, here's a link or you can email us questions
More about Josh & Jenn
Jenn Brown is the author of this site, a loving wife and communications guru.
Josh Brown most recently served on staff at Fellowship Bible Church in NWA as a Springdale Community Pastor. We've served in ministry in Missouri, Texas, Virginia and Nevada.
Cancer has been big part of our story. Josh has battled cancer three times already with the first to being non-Hodgkins lymphoma at ages 15 and 25 and the third thyroid cancer last year and a GBM, brain tumor this year.
Jenn's mom, Carol passed away from breast cancer 21 years ago and her father also went through treatments for Chronic Leukemia (CLL) in 2017 and is doing well now.
Friends & Family
We have been so encouraged by friends and family. Thank you for the practical ways you are caring for us! We love you all! This is just few photo highlights of some meaningful moments.