What an honor it was to share this film during the two screenings RTF hosted in December. As a supporting partner of the film and the effort, we helped raise awareness during National Grief Support Awareness week which was December 15-21, 2008.
This film is about a group of strangers, six American women who traveled together to South Africa on a mission trip to work in the local communities supporting the children and the schools there. These women did not know each other prior to this trip, they didn’t even come from the same city, but they all shared the common status of being a bereaved mother.
Filmmaker Jennifer Steinman does an incredible job of capturing each woman’s story, her state of mind, and her progress during this once-in-a-lifetime trip. We move with them on their journey from their homes in the US to the small town in South Africa, and into the home of the host who takes them in. We learn small things about each of them as they interact with each other, and eventually we learn about the child each of them has lost.
We also get to watch as they support each other, guide each other, laugh and cry together, and we witness the very interesting dynamic of how we do grieve as individuals, even when we are not the only bereaved mom in the room. One of the most striking things about this film is being able to hear the words these women use to describe their loss, their life after their loss, and the ways in which the people around them have dealt with the changes in them.
The experience of losing a child is a common thread connecting us to the women in the film, the women in this film have all lost older children, young adults. And yet, we are all speaking the same language, all the words they are using are the same. The ramifications of losing a child in utero or as a young baby are sometimes lost on the people around us.
Sometimes people are unable to validate our feelings, which only compounds our grief and complicates an already difficult situation. The perception is sometimes that an early pregnancy loss is something to get over, a stillborn child is not one we could possibly have a bond with and therefore grieve for, and a newborn has not lived long enough to be affecting us so deeply. As a result, we find ourselves struggling to make others understand us, our feelings, our loss, and we spring into defense of our child’s honor and memory.
The women in this film did not express frustration that others did not understand their loss. It is unlikely that they were faced with that aspect of our experience because everyone around them knew their child when they died. And yet, just about everything these women shared, every feeling they expressed about grief and its long-term effects, and the words they used to describe their lives today could have been spoken by anyone who has lost a child during pregnancy or as a young baby. There is a powerful lesson to be shared here.
Visit the film’s website at: http://www.motherland-thefilm.org
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