Sometimes I think I can’t live without Beth.
I’ve done everything I can to find ways to honor her, but also live without her. I want to find a way where living is less challenging and painful. Showing the film has certainly been a challenge. Generally, I am not attending film festivals, but I recently attended two local/regional fests. At one of the fests, I didn’t even watch my own film.
Sometimes, I think this film is too personal for me to talk about. Mostly, though, everything from Beth’s death until now has been really personal, so why should the film be any different?
I’ve been open about the challenges here, on the blog. I’ve opened up on my Facebook page. Most people are respectful, though a tiny minority have been less so. I don’t mean to make people uncomfortable. I don’t mean to make my grieving process seem worse than anyone else’s.
I had an early experience when a friend shamed me on Facebook (twice) for grieving so publicly. I’ve experienced challenges dealing with reporters that assumed I’d want to talk more openly than I have. Even when dealing with some filmmakers, this process has at times been harmful, but mostly it’s been helpful; certainly not in equal degrees.
One reporter wanted to write about stuff I have never talked about online or in the film, and when I suggested I wasn’t interested in a story, because of where she wanted to take it, the response was, “I’m the reporter, I decide the story.” And just like that, I pushed her away and I was done with the interview. I decided to never talk to her, again. Luckily, a more empathetic exchange with a different writer eventually encouraged me to open up.
Ultimately, the good far outweighs the bad. It’s definitely been much more helpful than harmful. Actually, it’s no contest. I mean, I’m not naive, and I’m not exactly surprised by disheartening comments like the Facebook exchange.
I don’t talk about it often, but I’ve been seeing a therapist since Beth passed. It’s been helpful, but I also know I’m probably going to stop going, soon, mostly for financial reasons. I think spreading her ashes, revisiting places to take the photos, keeping this blog, and making the film, have all helped more than a therapist probably could, but sometimes something happens that frustrates the hell out of me.
One particular recent exchange has stayed with me.
After a closing ceremony at one of the film festivals, when I was trying to simply enjoy the evening with friends, another filmmaker made a comment that felt like a stab in my chest.
Granted, this person knew little about me. We’d simply met at gatherings. Certainly he knew virtually nothing meaningful about Beth, nothing about what I’ve been going through this past year and a half, and he never even saw the film. Yet, he began with the question:
“How much of your film is ego?”
Essentially, he implied I made the film for accolades, or possibly I was exploiting her death for personal gain – an insinuation that made me furious. One of the reporters made a similar accusation nearly a year ago. Yet, she contacted me, wanting to write a story.
Ultimately, I think those kinds of comments say more about the person asking questions than about me, but it doesn’t make them any less mystifying or discouraging.
To be honest, I always understood people might feel that way. In fact, the first 6 months of this journey, I kept arguing with people that insisted the photos were works of art. For me, they weren’t art, but a personal process that was helping me deal with the loss. I initially did not like thinking about them as art, at all. I never, ever, ever, wanted to reduce Beth to an art project, and calling them art felt insulting and shameful, somehow.
Still, even by the time I was willing to allow them to be called art, and even as I continue to struggle with how people interpret my spreading of her ashes, comments that insinuate I’m doing all of this for anyone other than Beth devastate me completely.
It’s not hard to hurt or crush someone when they’re vulnerable.
I’ve thought about stopping the blog many times, and, even though I know it will come to a close, soon, I’ve also received numerous messages from people that have thanked me for sharing. Such messages have made the blog worthwhile.
It’s one thing for me to get through this, myself, but the thought of this helping anyone else actually motivates me to continue. When I imagine sharing my grief has assuaged anyone’s pain, it makes her death a little less difficult to bear, and if anything good can come from her death – anything at all – it eases my mind. It soothes a very broken heart when I think she is helping others, even long after she’s gone.
True, I’m merely a messenger, sharing her with others.
Maybe I’m an emotional emissary, of sorts.
Hopefully I can live with that.