Transforming Loss

After attending the fourth screening of Transforming Loss this week, it occurred to me that I have never written about our filming experience. I’m going to break the story up into two parts because I don’t think I can boil this down into one blog entry, so expect another entry tomorrow. Yep, two posts in a row!
This past summer, my husband, kids, and I were fortunate to be part of an amazing experience: filming this important documentary–Transforming Loss. It features six families affected by tragic loss and their grief journeys. It all happened because of my husband, Mike, who is pretty cool. He happened to see that a friend on Facebook had liked a page called Transforming Loss: A Documentary. It turned out that this friend of his knew one of the women in the film from school, hence her liking of the page.
Mike went to the page and saw that they were still filming and still looking for stories to document. He considered all of the things that we had done on behalf of Colin, because of Colin and reached out to the filmmaker, Judith Burdick. She contacted him with the quickness and asked if she could have a call with both of us. A few days later, she called while I was crawling around on my bedroom floor and cleaning out the closet. Yes, again. It’s ridiculous how quickly my closet gets out of control.

Mike plopped his phone on the bed and put it on speaker and we chatted with Judith. We gave her the quick and dirty rundown of the events of Colin’s brief life and then all of the efforts with It’s My Heart, CHF – Michigan Chapter, and Tomorrow’s Child that we took part in to honor his memory. We told her about my writing for Still Standing and the blog (which was kinda lame back then, but it gets better every day!). She immediately wanted to meet with us to see if we would be a good fit for the film.

We met her in her office a few days later. In addition to being a filmmaker, Judith is also a psychotherapist who suffered the loss of her husband in a scuba diving accident when they were in their 30s. Her experience as a young widow led her to seek out the stories that nobody wants to talk about: tragic losses of family members before their time due to illness, accident, or suicide. She asked us questions about how we coped, what we did, what prompted us to start to help others, and to give time and effort to charities and other venues. She talked to our boys who she immediately fell in love with, and they with her. Within a half hour, she had decided that she wanted to include us in her film. We were completely surprised and honored to be part of this important film–an honest look at what happens to those left behind after a loss.

By the end of the week, there was a film crew at our home–very early in the morning! We filmed some outdoor scenes of Mike and I walking in some fortuitous fog that looks fantastic on film. We filmed us having breakfast, me getting ready for work, all of the ordinary stuff. We filmed some scenes at our beautiful church. I taught a pretend yoga class (thanks so much to the friends who came and made that possible!) and sat and looked meditative in the pew as the light streamed in through our gorgeous stained glass windows and splashed sunset-colored hues across the sanctuary. They filmed Mike in the memorial garden where Colin is interred and a statue of an angel sits atop the very spot where his ashes were placed. We then broke for lunch at the local coney island/diner. During lunch we all  bonded, laughing, telling stories, sharing pasts, and talking about the dreams for the film and Judith’s rightly ambitious vision. It was a lovely meal. A waitress took our picture and the way the light shone around us, it was as if there was a glow around our table, and only our table. We started to feel as though someone or something was with us–shining down on us–watching over us.

To be continued!

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