Speaking Grief: Documentary Aims to Open Conversation

“I think people that haven’t gone through that kind of loss don’t understand the way it affects everything in your brain and your body and your mind and everything in life,” Jack StockLynn of Portland shares in a new documentary about grief.

The documentary, Speaking Grief, is aimed at creating a more grief-aware society by “validating the experience of grievers and helping guide those who wish to support them” and will soon air on many public television stations nationwide.

The multi-platform project is aimed at elevating a national conversation around grief by creating the space for the journey to recovery.

Director Lindsey Whissel Fenton says those she interviewed were thankful to speak about their loss, “These conversations were intense. But, when I would apologize for stirring up painful memories and emotions, the response was almost always an expression of gratitude; something along the lines of, ‘You don’t understand—I NEVER get to talk about this.’ This was further confirmation of the fact that we have a lot of work to do when it comes to holding space for grief in our society.”

The documentary is also accompanied by a media-rich website with many interviews by experts, including Portland-based Megan Devine, and families from around the country.

The website also provides additional resources on grief including sections on:

Carmichael Khan, who is featured in the documentary, said the sudden loss of his wife forced him into an unexpected role: father and mother to his daughter, Asia, who was 14 years old at the time of her mother’s death.

“I wanted Asia’s life to be stable, to not have to deal with a post-trauma event,” said Khan, who is from Houston. “Recovery is a journey. You are the walking wounded, but there is always hope. I believe I would not be where I am if it were not for the people who assisted me through it.”

Portlander StockLynn shared how others didn’t know how to support him through grief after the loss of his mom, “People stopped asking me about it a couple months in. People just started to not remember that was part of my existence, even though I would look at myself and feel like my face was just written with grief.”

The Suddes/Hilliard family, also from Portland, shared the story of the loss of their baby Paul and how it continues to impact them. “I’m always going to be this person. I’m always going to be a dad who lost his son. And I’m going to keep meeting people and getting close to people and having to decide whether I’m going to tell them,” Jimmy Hilliard explained.

Zee Wolters, from Ontario, California, was just 31 when she lost her mom. “I did have some good friends that did help out that I’m very grateful for, but there wasn’t anyone around my age grieving for the loss of a parent so it was a fairly lonely feeling.”

Jenn Hepton and her husband Nic, from Seattle, lost twins, and later a baby girl. Jenn says “I don’t think people understand that this is forever. It is not something you get over … Grief is painful, grief is suffering and it is uncomfortable … You need to feel pain to understand what joy is.”

You can find Speaking Grief on many local public media stations in May or watch online.

At Solace, we support the same goal of normalizing the conversation around grief, so we are excited to help amplify this effort.

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