“Made in 2012, Good Grief has screened at 19 festivals worldwide and won numerous awards. Inspired by the loss of her own mother and the grief that ensued, director Fiona Dalwood went about finding out how the experience of loss transforms us.”
This weekend, I went to a Senior Seminar with my Christian Fellowship. In a classroom full of friends and acquaintances I have come to know and love over the past four years, I was surprised to find myself feeling very alone. A weight pressed on my heart; I was listless and inattentive to our discussions of ambition, finances, success, failure, love, romance… until the topic of dilemmas came to the forefront. Our facilitator opened up a space for any of us who felt that we had an actual dilemma to share with the larger group so that we might dialogue about it together. Something cold and clammy began to splash around in my stomach, and I remembered what had happened recently: at a WSP meeting the week before, I unexpectedly broke down and started crying in front of my boss and all my co-workers. Normally one who shies away from the prospect of displaying emotional weakness in front of even my closest friends (and I recall these moments with deep embarrassment), I began to recognize how very serious my grief was. For my tears were then and are now for my friend who is gone.
Grief hits us in very unexpected ways. I have had the rare gift of not experiencing the death of any close loved ones until I got to college—when it seems that they have come in spades. A friend committed suicide. That same summer, my unborn nephew unfortunately did not live to experience a single day. My grandfather passed away after a long battle against chronic heart conditions. And most recently, my friend Kevin was killed in a car accident. This death, interestingly enough, has hit me the hardest.
For my Shakespeare class, we are currently reading King Lear. This bit of information will be relevant, I promise you, so bear with me. One of the major themes in this play is the theme of suffering, as well as the inability to adequately express it. Our immediate reaction to suffering is to attempt to quantify and evaluate it with words, so that we can find ways to communicate it with others—and even to ourselves. Yet how can a thing such as grief be measured? Someone once attempted to create measurements of physical pain, but that attempt proved to be fruitless and contradictory.
But isn’t that what this video is doing? you might ask.
Stop-motion disarms me. Claymation creeps me out. This video, under normal circumstances, would turn me away even before I gave it a chance. But the title, “Good Grief,” is powerful. What I appreciate so much about this video is not that it is successful in encapsulating grief in a way that is anywhere near exhaustive (for such a video would, I believe, be impossible to make). What I appreciate about this video is that it opens up a space to engage with grief and fuel the process of mourning—and in doing so, building hope.
I fortunately was able to share with my community this past weekend about what I was going through. I was able to share my confusion, my weariness, my anger, my questions, and my overwhelming sadness with them. And to tell you the truth, nothing in my situation changed. I was still confused, tired, angry, and terribly sad. I was no closer to finding answers to my impossible questions. One might say that I am absolutely, entirely the same person then as I was before I had shared. But wait—one thing is different. I am no longer alone in this, and with that comes a seed of hope… the same sort of hope that I find in the voices (and yes, even in the slightly more than a little creepy claymated expressions) of these individuals who have the courage to share their story.
The ones we love will leave us. But when they are lost, that can’t keep us from pressing on. We are still alive. We still have a life to live, and so we must dare to live it.
Post submitted by Michelle