Archive for the ‘Production Diary’ Category

Shooting starts next week and I’m drafting a post to wrap up how pre-production has concluded.   However, in the meantime, I came across a posting on the Dish that appealed to me because it combined the subjects of my last film and my current film by addressing how women, who provide the majority of end-of-life care, are particularly impacted:

The burden of unpaid care work that women continue to shoulder plays a major role in women’s persistent economic inequality. Directly, there is the opportunity cost that comes when women cut back hours or drop out of the paid labor force to provide care; economist Nancy Folbre has referred to this cost as the “care penalty.” Indirectly, unpaid care work affects women’s compensation in the paid labor market. Research has shown that a portion of the gender pay gap is attributable to the fact that women with children are, on average, paid less than their otherwise identical counterparts. Another study found that working in a caregiving occupation is associated with a 5 to 10 percent wage penalty, even when skill levels, education, industry, and other observable factors are controlled for.

But…

As writer Jane Glenn Haas pointed out, eldercare isn’t sexy enough to be a feminist issue. It lacks the naughty allure of reproductive rights, the seductive appeal of body image. It doesn’t even have a sassy Lean In-like catchphrase. But it should be a feminist issue, since the numbers show that women are most likely to shoulder the responsibility of looking after parents in their twilight years, and the most likely to live well into those twilight years. A lot of them have missed out on career and educational opportunities. A lot of them—like my mother and her friends—are doing this by the skin of their teeth, with scant to nonexistent resources. A lot of them will outlive their spouses (if they have them), exhaust their pensions (if they have them), and die alone.

The fuller article on the Baffler is here.   The blog post that started it all, a personal essay really, called Eldercare:  The Forgotten Feminist Issue and quoted above is here.   And I include the lovely picture of the mother of the writer, Jamie Nesbitt Golden,  as this post’s featured image because all of us caregivers can relate.

Research goes on. Just finished the poignant Lament for a Son by Nicholas Wolterstorff. Besides being a very quick read, which when you are doing research is much appreciated, it is indeed a deep lament. Even though I have not lost a son, I easily recognize the states of feeling and mind filling the pages.

Let me try again. All these things I recognize. I remember delighting in them. Trees, art, house, music, pink morning sky, work well done, flowers, books. I still delight in them. I am still grateful. But the zest is gone. The passion is cooled, the striving quieted, the longing stilled. My attachment is loosened. No longer do I set my heart on them. I can do without them. They don’t matter. Instead of rowing, I float… I’ve become an alien in the world, shyly touching it as if it’s not mine. I don’t belong anymore. When someone loved leaves home, home becomes mere house.

I can testify that this is mood or state that that blows through one during the first year after death. As a person who has been bereaved and is still sorting it out, I find the personal accounts – my story, your story – to be where the comfort is. I’ve noticed this both in the bereavement group I’ve attended and in the variety of books I’ve read. When I am in group and it’s being run ineptly, the facilitator is droning on about some statistical or anecdotal fact of grieving. It’s not comforting. It’s a display. When the group speaks and stories are told, there is resonance.

When I consider Fatherloss, my last piece of reading research. I cannot say it was not informative. But it wasn’t moving or comforting. The author came between me and the stories of his subjects by focusing more on his interpretation of them than letting them speak for themselves. And percentages of this type of loss and that type of response are valuable but not for those who’ve actually had the loss and are looking for consolation.

Something I need to bear in mind as I start shooting. Bereaving is like filmmaking: It’s more important to follow the river of feeling than the trail of facts.

Finished up Widower and am now a quarter of the way through Fatherloss.   I enjoyed Widower so much…or at least can say I found it moving and informative.  I think this is because the interviews in the book preserved the voices of the men as they relayed their stories and experiences.   The author let them tell their own stories straight from their own mouths.   All the different voices and personalities came through.  (For me, it was just like going to bereavement group!)

Fatherloss, however, draws on the interviews of 376 different men and Neil Chetchik, the author, paraphrases all the interview.   The first-hand words of the subjects are only referenced in pull quotes here and there.   (Chetchik bills himself as an “Expert on Men” which seems like a mighty inflated claim.  Maybe that’s why he doesn’t let his subjects talk!)

What is nice about Fatherloss so far is the sprinkling of stories of public figures dealing with father loss as a way to introduce new segments.  For example, JFK Jr. who lost his father before he had any memory of him experienced one kind of grief.   Someone like Michael Jordan, whose father died when he was thirty had a very different kind of grief.  (e.g.  He instantly lost all interest in basketball and took up baseball to fulfill what he thought was his father’s wish.)   These narratives are ones with which we are all vaguely familiar but they take on a new dimension when viewed through the loss of their fathers.

I’m still hoping to find some good research material on men’s grief in relation to the loss of a mother.   No one has written a book about this it seems.  Some kind of taboo maybe?  If it’s still considered awkward and/or verboten for a man to experience prolonged grief at all, I guess it’s even more forbidden for a man to be grieving his “mommy” in any on-going way.

Also, still looking for some meaningful material on sibling loss for men.  As one blogger I came across noted:

I have actually found more support for people who are grieving the loss of a pet, than I have for people who have lost a brother or a sister.

In my experience, sibling loss definitely gets low ratings on the empathy and attention meter.  What would have been my sister’s 51st birthday passed recently.   Even though I was my sister’s caretaker, health care proxy, power of attorney, etc. etc., even though I’m the one who planned the funeral and cleaned up her business, all the calls of remembrance, every single one, went to my mother.