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The Heartbreak You May Not Know But Should Understand

Local woman creates a powerful film about losing a child

Published on: June 21, 2018

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Angela DiMarco
Photo:
Angela DiMarco on the set of "Always." Photo courtesy of Angela DiMarco

Angela DiMarco wants to end the silence surrounding pregnancy loss.

The local actor and filmmaker carries her own experience with her; she wears the footprints of her son on a necklace. He died before reaching his due date in 2016.

Now she's sharing her story of losing a child through a new film, "Always." The 14-minute film explores a fictionalized version of DiMarco and her husband's experience of losing their child.

"Always" debuted at the 2018 Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) in May. Earlier in the spring, it was included in the Short Film Corner at the Cannes Film Festival.

We talked to DiMarco about the film; her experience creating it alongside her husband; and what she wishes more people knew about losing a child.

Why did you make this film?

"Always" came to me after we lost our baby, Caleb, on December 30, 2016. At first, I didn’t know I was making a film. I had images that I had been writing down and journaling. I thought that maybe I can turn this into something to help me process my grief. 

So, I kept writing and one day while I was getting a massage, I saw all of these images together. And I realized it was a story, and then I realized it was like our story, and then I realized it was a universal story. I asked my husband, David [Hogan], if he would do this with me, knowing it would be very close to home. But it’s also ambiguous. It wasn’t our story verbatim. He said yes.

I used only people who were very close to us to help with the filming. I intended it to be just for me.

What changed to make you want to release it to the world?

During the filming, I realized, that this is a real film — a powerful film. Also, friends started sharing. I found that almost all of us had lost a child, either personally or in the family.

That made me think about my losses, and when we went public with them, how many women and men reached out to share that they had such experiences. They thanked me for sharing. I thought if I could make this a film and put it out, I could make difference. Film is forever. And this is a conversation that needs to start being shared. 

I felt that I wanted more of the truth of this experience shown. The main characters are not me and my husband. They have elements that are not about us at all. But they also have universal elements that I think everyone who suffers the loss of a child can understand. It’s those universal elements where you will see the truth of losing a child.

The film is vague about the circumstances of the loss of the child. Why is that?

I want to start the conversation for parents who have lost a child at any time, from the earliest part of pregnancy to the child you can hold in your arms, and how they go through that grief. I believe that losing a child is the most heartbreaking loss in the world. 

The film is not about miscarriage. I really don’t like that word and I refuse to use it to explain anyone’s loss. It starts with the word "miss." It’s really unfair. Does that mean that I am not a mother because my body made a mistake? That I missed my chance to be a mother? It implies that the mother did something wrong. She missed something. Of course, none of that is true. 

This film is about the loss of a baby, and when it happens doesn’t matter. There is nothing easy about losing a child at any stage. When a baby is lost, you lose not only that person you loved, but also so much potential. When you are pregnant or parenting a baby, you are faced with how everything will change, both good and bad. Suddenly, all of the plans you made are gone. All of that potential is gone.

What do you hope others will take away from the film?

I hope that other people who have lost children realize they are not alone. That they should not be ashamed. That it’s okay to grieve. And it’s okay to grieve and still have faith, love and hope. I hope that they see that both partners experience the loss deeply and in different ways. Partners have to be strong to care for the mother, which is harder sometimes.

For the audience that hasn’t lost a child, my hope was to inspire them to be that village to be prepared to offer themselves to support that family who loses a child. I wanted to help them understand what happens behind the closed doors because they don’t know. Just like with depression, it can be hard to see what’s really going on for someone who is suffering.

I hope everyone gets that we should talk about it. It doesn’t have to be a solo or even a duo journey. During this kind of grief is when you need your family and your community the most. 

The biggest message is this: You are not alone. I want others to know they are not alone.

To learn more about "Always," including upcoming showings and ways to watch the film, visit the film's Facebook page. DiMarco and her team are regularly updating the page.

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