Movies Breaking the Silence

So I talked about this “secret society” that some of us belong to in this world. This club that you did not want to join, but became a member of with losing a baby. And how some walk around every day, and you would never know that they have suffered losing a baby.

I am going to talk about movies that are trying to change that. These two movies, based on true stories, were released just this year, 2014. I attended a special fundraising event this pat April, and they had an early showing of the Sony movie, “Heaven Is For Real”. I have to tell you, though I do not like every part of this movie, for different reasons, overall, it moved me on many levels. Without giving away too much of it, there was a scene, that you could hear lots of sniffling going on. This theater was packed with at least 200 people. The scene I am talking about, was of this little boy who had a (somewhat) near death experience, meeting his sister in Heaven. This little girl, died in her mother’s womb. She was known as a “miscarriage”. Again, there was so much sniffling going on during this scene. There was even a grown man crying in front of me. My crying was unstoppable as well. But in that moment, I thought, “There are a lot of bereaved mothers and fathers in here right now. And you would never know. And, I am not alone.” It was powerful. During this movie too, there were several scenes where this mother, who suffered many years ago, with her “miscarriage”, was still grieving. She pulled out the baby clothes she had for that baby, many years later, and just held them. Looked at them. She even had her rainbow baby after her loss, but she still was sad. I loved the scene where her son tells her that he “met his sister in Heaven”. They lost early on, where they did not know the gender of their baby. The little boy went onto describe her long red hair, something his oldest living sister did not have. And neither did he. He had blond hair. But this little girl, his sister in Heaven did have. And so did his mother.

Another movie I saw recently, released on Lifetime, was a movie starring Minnie Driver, “Return to Zero”. Pretty intense movie. Again, parts I did not like, but overall, pretty moving. They showed scenes that sometimes nobody talks about. The throwing of the baby gift by the bereaved mother that the manager says is past due for being returned. The uncomfortable feelings on both parts that go with a bereaved mother attending a baby shower; the bereaved mother ends up leaving. The nursery that was ready for baby, that gets repainted by his devastated mother and father after coming home from the hospital with empty arms. Being told that your baby does not have a heartbeat. She was alone. It brought back very sad memories of when I was told our Emily did not have a heartbeat. I was alone, too. I am crying as I type that. And then the scene where the husband and wife are in the hospital, and have to deliver their baby boy that has died. And she has to hear women giving birth to live babies. That is what it is like. That is what happened to me, with both of our babies that died, Emily and Michael. You hear these mothers laboring, and then you hear their babies cry. You labor too, but your baby does not come out crying. This is the reality of what it is like. I am glad that a movie showed all parts of this very sad journey, and didn’t try to sugar-coat anything.

Before I go onto talking about the parts that I did not care for in these movies, I am going to mention one other part that I did like about “Heaven Is For Real”. During the course of this movie, there was a bereaved mother that lost her full-grown son to war. Her only son. He was a soldier fighting for his nation. And in this scene, she explains to the father of the little boy, who survived a terrible illness, why she was struggling. They were at her son’s grave in the cemetery. And she says something like, “I was angry at God. Why would He save your son, but not mine?” I can identify with those thoughts and feelings, because I have felt them myself. Many people that have suffered loss think to themselves, “Why me?”

Okay, so the parts that I did not like. Here we go… With “Heaven Is For Real”, she got her rainbow baby after her loss. And then at the end of the movie, where they almost lost their toddler boy, she found out she was pregnant again. And then they showed the family’s picture today, with their living children. It was the “happy-ending” movie. What about those that do not get their rainbow babies? I am sure these feelings stem from us losing two times in a row. Maybe if Michael was still in my tummy, I wouldn’t have even thought of that. But, the reality is, he is not in my belly. And I did not get my rainbow baby. And many of us don’t. With “Return to Zero”, they show a lot drinking and smoking going on, as to how a bereaved parent “copes” with loss. While, I know that that is true. And they probably showed the extreme, to prove a point, it was a little exaggerated. Believe me, I have had my moments of wanting to escape. I will talk about that in an upcoming post. But, excessive drinking will only numb you. The other part I did not like, was the husband having an affair in order to escape his feelings. And not being there to support his bereaved wife. It stereotypes men to be cheaters in these situations. While I do know that that can happen. Most people that I know of that have lost, husbands have been great supporters and caretakers of their wives and families. And most people that have talked about this movie, agree. On a plus side, they did show the husband doing a meaningful project to honor the son that he lost. And that is what a lot of men do, pour their energies into projects. So, that was honest and made sense to me. Oh, the other thing was how the movie seemed to “downplay” miscarriage. I understand that the mother suffered a stillbirth. And people would refer to it as a “miscarriage”. Which was offensive to her. I can understand. But, if you read between the lines, a miscarriage is therefore being told that it is not as big of a deal as a stillbirth. I was happy that at the end of the movie, the mother of the bereaved mother, discloses that she suffered from a miscarriage. And the bereaved mother says to her mother, “But that was a miscarriage”. And her mother replies, “But, I still lost a baby.” It does show however, how ill-informed we are as a whole, about baby loss. I will admit, I did not realize the differences, until we lost ourselves.

So, where do we go from here? Are these movies just going to be ones that this “secret society” cry at and watch? Possibly. I hope not. I hope that all of us, ones that have lost and ones that haven’t, use this as an opportunity to “break the silence”. Please go and watch these movies, if you haven’t already. It’s worth it. If this happens in at least 1 in 4 pregnancies, why is it so hidden and brushed under the rug? I don’t know. I really don’t know.