Spoiler alert: I describe many key parts of the film Gravity in my post below.
The Chaplain at the hospital where my daughter was stillborn told me about the movie Gravity when I saw her at the annual service of remembrance last October. She said that yes, it takes place in space, but that ultimately, it's the story of a grieving Mother. I finally saw it on a plane on my way back from California a few weeks ago, a few weeks before the 7-oscar sweep the film made. I watched it with my 4-year old on one side of me, my husband on the other, and our 8-month old rainbow baby in my arms asleep. I knew what I was getting into, watching a movie that I'd been warned was really about loss, not space, in the public/private location of a plane cabin. I figured there would be some crying, and I was right.
As someone who has lost a baby, I see parallels between my grief journey and the journey through space that Sandra Bullock's character makes. I can relate to what she's experiencing at so many parts of the film:
-she comes "untethered": the disorientation that grief brings is like this. You no longer feel connected to your everyday life and the world. You drift.
-she is physically pummeled by space debris: facing grief again day after day is like banging into space debris REALLY HARD, over and over again. The pain comes at you, out of nowhere, when you least expect it.
-she talks to herself: grief, and the story of your grief is always running in the background of your mind, sometimes the foreground as well There's a lot of talking to yourself, a lot of reworking the loss, reviewing your child's death over and over from every perspective. Wondering if some small change could have led to a different outcome.
-she is not afraid to die: I felt this way after my dad died and even more so after losing my daughter. I can't begin to imagine what happens to us after death. But maybe, just maybe, there is this possibility of reunion with our loved ones who have gone before us. That prospect is a balm to all of us left behind. It makes me much less afraid of dying.
-she decides to live: she overcomes her desperate situation and makes a decision to survive. After everything, she decides to live. She has no plan, there is no promise that anything will be OK, but she does everything she can to survive and then at the very end, she crawls out of the capsule, through the water, and onto land. She has nothing, but she steps towards her unknown future.
Gravity is a powerful allegory about grief, and what it takes to overcome it and survive. As a traveler on this path, I was grateful for a film that captured so much of the experience. See the movie, it's worth it for so many reasons. If you're a babylost parent, see if it speaks to you about aspects of your grief. I'll be curious to hear.