Content Warning: The following blog post and video discuss sensitive topics like illness, death, and grief. Even though these subjects are a fact of life, they can be emotionally upsetting for some viewers.
On August 4th, next week, I’ll be celebrating my mom’s 6th celestial birthday. And I miss her.
Almost every person you meet is missing someone, or they will be one day. You may also be the person missing someone. Loss is a part of life. Grief is inevitable. I just wish it was a little easier to talk about.
If society is going to get better at acknowledging the importance of mental health, we also need to recognize the role of grief in that battle. I chose to narrow in on the topic of “grief” instead of just disability because of the number of people I’ve spoken to who were still feeling the pain of loss. Losing a loved one can severely impact your mental health and well-being, yet no federal law guarantees bereavement leave. Most companies only offer three days of bereavement leave. That seems insufficient.
The good thing is that where federal policy may fail us, people usually don’t. Even if someone does not understand your situation, they can at least try to empathize with you. It is that kindness and compassion extended to us that makes the difference in how we can process our grief and move forward with our lives. Of course, we still miss the people who are gone, but it’s not as overwhelming when you have support.
Putting this project together was not easy. Some of my classmates created spreadsheets breaking down their shots and narration, but my process was slightly different. I wrote out a script, performed it, decided that I hated it, rewrote it, performed it again, and then tweaked it some more. I would describe putting this video together as an “art, not a science,” in that I put clips together depending on how I felt at that moment.
- Santa Cruz Drone Footage: Thanks to some visiting friends, I captured this lovely footage of a beach in Santa Cruz. I knew I wanted to use ocean footage in my video because of how often I’d heard grief compared to an ocean. The footage was perfect for my metaphor.
- Interview Footage: My coworker, Alysia Cumbo, agreed to sit with me and share her thoughts about public accounting and disability employment. During our conversation, she made several intelligent points that I thought deserved to be shared. I think her stories are universal and deserved to be shared. I had not intended to share the footage from this interview, but I couldn’t let it go once I had my idea. Alysia has graciously allowed me to use this interview footage, and I am very grateful to her for her part in this project.
- Vertical Camera Footage: I did not know when I recorded that video of her in 2014 that it would be the last video I had of her. Everything in our lives changed after her illness. I never knew that the “bye” I said to her would be the last one.
- B-Roll Footage: Using my trusty tripod, I filmed some B-roll of a candle being lit and blown out next to a photo of my young self in my mom’s arms. It’s one of my favorite photos. As for the candle? My mom was Greek. Lighting candles carry spiritual significance for us.
- Narration: I recorded (and rerecorded) a lot of my narration using the voice memo app on my phone. The other narration comes from my interview with Alysia. For our interview, we both made use of our work headsets, leading to crisper audio.
- Ambient Sounds: I incorporated some background audio of ocean waves from a free sounds website. The drone footage had no sound, and the track felt empty without something in the background. I liked the contemplative nature of the ocean waves.
Please see the above screenshot showing how all of my footage came together. I made use of the cross dissolve feature for almost every video transition (I liked its gentleness), a fade to black for my ending shot with the candle, and I heavily edited the audio changes so that they would blend seamlessly. I also used J and L cuts for visual variety because I didn’t want my audience to have to stare at the same image repeatedly.
I hope anyone who watches my video finds some solace in it. It was not easy to make. Rewatching the footage of my mom hurt me deeply at times. Ironically, I did not feel comfortable mentioning this project up at work, even though it made focusing a challenge. I suppose after this, I’ll have to show some compassion to myself and rest.