I wrote this story shortly after a friend of mine died by suicide. It takes place three days before our protagonist is to be evicted from the home he shared with his now deceased wife. A couple of months have passed since she’s died and it has rocked his entire world. While he grapples with grief, he must also contend with the mounting financial challenges that are a result of his wife’s sudden death and the absence of a financial contingency plan.
I want to explore the theme of LOSS SURVIVAL in this film. I am encouraged by the discussion about mental health, especially within the African-American community. However, I think an aspect of the conversation that has been overlooked is in relation to those who have dealt with the various levels of trauma as a result of loving someone with a mental illness, specifically trauma caused by suicide. I hope to widen the scope of the conversation with this film. I’m also interested in turning the lens on African-American men - their depth of love, strength, and pain. With an ongoing conversation in the media about African-American men being a “threat”, I want to show the African-American man that I am familiar with: one who is caring, compassionate, thoughtful, and strong. To widen the scope even further, I wanted to examine this man, now isolated, depressed and feeling hopeless, struggle to process his pain and also verbalize his needs to those close to him.
In the process of creating and sharing this story, I have discovered that so many loss survivors are in my midst and inner circle. I never knew. They suffer in silence, some ashamed by their loved ones’ choice to take their own lives and others committed to “moving forward”, and therefore without the time to process the trauma. Nevertheless, the pain is constant and often manifesting in other parts of their lives. My hope is that this story offers loss survivors an opportunity to feel seen and to know that they’re not alone.
THE EXPLORATION OF THE LOSS SURVIVOR’S JOURNEY
“I’m so sorry I couldn’t save you…”
When my friend died by suicide, I couldn’t stop thinking about what her husband was going through. I had so many questions. How does one contend with a loss due to suicide? How would he manage the immediate and devastating financial challenges that would undoubtedly follow? What about the fact that men tend to handle pain differently? How would that very different approach to processing pain play into his ability to grieve and move beyond the day she died? What comes next when isolation and hopelessness become more comforting than family members’ visits and phone calls? And after the phone calls dry up, what is the condition of the family that many of us don’t see after we’ve offered our condolences?
In my mind, the financial challenges would be hard to ignore or resolve. Living as a two income household would mean that her absence would be felt financially as well - and when you consider that her life insurance may be null and void due to how she died, I couldn’t stop wondering what would happen to him. How does he pull his life together and what would need to happen to help him “move on”.