Monday, April 6, 2015

Stillbirth and Surfing

I want to share a beautiful short film about a man whose daughter, Willow, was stillborn. He shares his journey of grieving through surfing and building a surfboard in honor and memory of his little girl. Loss touches so many different people and because we are all different, we grieve and express ourselves differently. He is able to share Willow with his family and friends through the surfboard he made for her. The music, his words, and the video are just really beautiful. I hope you enjoy it too.

This is what he says in the video that especially touches my heart: "I'll never be able to articulate the pain and despair of our grief journey. It was so impossibly dark and bleak and cruel. And it was interesting through that time what surfing meant to me. You know, surfing didn't make me better, but it was a place to go to be alone in the water, to be alone with my thoughts and my tears. And so I began making this little board, as a way of rising from the ashes and learning to live again, to use my hands to build something. I always name the boards I make and this one is called Noelani, which is Hawaiaan for "beautiful girl from Heaven." I made this board in memory of our daughter, Willow, who we will always long for in the deepest places of our souls."

This is what he wrote in the description of the video:
"To lose a child ... was something that could end one's world. One could never get back to how it was before. The stars went out. The moon disappeared. The birds became silent." -Alexander McCall Smith
Mark Twain said that there aren’t enough words in all the languages in the world to express the sorrow of losing a child. This is a short film I produced while grieving for my daughter, Willow, who was stillborn.
This short actually forms the centrepiece of a feature length surf film I made, called Seaworthy. Since the film’s release, I have received many heartfelt words of sympathy & encouragement. There have been scores of letters & emails from surfers from all over the world that have been sensitive & authentic & moving. I have been especially touched by the messages from those who have travelled their own grief journeys. I am awed & humbled that my work somehow resonated with others’ broken hearts.
A common theme echoed among the beautiful feedback I’ve received is that the story deserves a wider audience. Surf films, by definition, appeal to only a limited demographic, & the kind of surf films I make are left-of-centre even within surfing circles. So I decided to post this online, in the hope that it may reach a few others, especially those who may be living with loss & longing.
All of us experience & express grief in varied ways, which is a good thing since we’re all different. Because I’m a surfer, this is how I gave expression to my experience of bereavement.
Thanks for taking the time to watch.

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