I wanted to share with you my experience of watching the movie “Return to Zero” about stillbirth.
I was lucky enough to attend a screening in Melbourne with the creators of the movie, whose true story it is based on, Kiley and Sean Hanish. I had followed the progress of the movie for a while and although ecstatic that someone was “breaking the silence” on an issue so close to my heart I was too scared to actually watch it. I was worried about the feelings it would bring up that I really didn’t have time to deal with and also as I’ve been through it, why would I want to watch someone else go through it?
The opportunity for this particular screening came up and I decided enough was enough I had to get it over with. I thought I was being a bit hypocritical to be honest that I wanted the topic talked about yet I wouldn’t see the movie myself.
I often experience flashbacks of various parts of my own experiences of the deaths Michael and Lyra and the drive to the theatre was one of the worst episodes I’ve had. I knew the movie was sponsored by Kleenex, but my drive was sponsored by KFC napkins as I hadn’t expected the flood of tears at the time!
Remembering my word for the year, COURAGE I walked into the theatre and mingled with other bereaved parents, supporters and my friends. At the forefront of my mind was how I was going to react to what I was about to see. Would it be triggering? Would it simply be depressing? Would it even be realistic? I mean I know firsthand what happens when your world crashes, but how would that be portrayed on a screen? With actors who haven’t experienced it? Would it’s message still have the same impact after being given the Hollywood treatment?
The answer to all those things was yes. It triggered pretty much everyone in the cinema. Each of us relating to some, or all of the story, being reminded by looking from the outside of what walking through hell is like. It was certainly depressing but it was also uplifting. And yes, it was realistic. The efforts by the actors to really understand the characters were well worth it. They were believable and heartfelt.
What I did not expect from this movie was that it was healing. Sitting in a dark cinema surrounded by people who get it, with tears rolling down my cheeks not feeling the need to wipe them was exhilarating. I let things go that I hadn’t been able to before.
I enjoyed watching the story from the outside, something I have not been able to objectively do before. I had felt what the mother felt and been where she was but I was able to watch how the story unfolded through the fathers eyes. The friends. The grandparents. The colleagues. Each feeling the rippling effects of a babies death. Each struggling with emotions and situations they never dreamed had existed.
I fell with every low and I rose with every high. I cried tears for them and I cried tears for me. I soaked up the experience of viewing from the outside what I had felt from the inside. For the first time I really understood what it was like to be those who have supported me. Those who struggled with feeling helpless to my intense needs. My husband, my parents, my friends.
Watching a movie was a very different experience to reading or hearing peoples experiences. It gives you the whole experience concurrently. And it was beautiful.
Thank you for being so brave and breaking the silence by sharing your son with the world Kiley and Sean x