An Elephant in the Room

In these tough times there are some silver linings in the clouds. While there are still some idiots out there, for the most part, people have been banding together and helping each other. Hopefully this behaviour continues after this health crisis ends. We are stronger when we work together. Along those lines, for most of us it is a natural thing to want to protect the weaker members of the herd. In every species that usually means the old and young. Here is a documemtary, directed by Katrine Philp (False Confessions, Suitable), which centers around just that.

An Elephant in the Room is a documentary which focuses on the lives of several young children who have suffered losses. By losses I mean deaths of parent(s) or sibling(s). Tough for an adult to deal with, but when it is a child…well, your heart just breaks for them. Life is not fair at times.

In New Jersey the Good Grief Community has special groups for young people who are dealing with the loss of a parents(s) or sibling(s). They encourage open conversation about it as well as allow the kids to express how they are feeling without being judged. It is a holistic approach. Rooms like the volcano room where they can explode and the hospital room where they can take care of teddy bear patients allow the kids to express whatever they are feeling. Bad or good.

The filming of the documentary spans over a year as we learn about the lives of Kimmy, Nicky, Peter, Nora, Nolan, and Mikayla. We follow them at Good Grief as they attend their group meetings as well as at home with their families. See how they talk about and do things to remember those they have lost. How those who are charged with raising them try to support them. Most importantly how they try to continue on with life.

Trying to be as unobtrusive as possible with her camera, Philp does her best not affect what is going on and often succeeds in capturing truly organic moments. The entire focus of the film is on the young people. As a result there plenty of sad moments, but they are balanced with heartwarming and even funny moments.

In the end you just shake your head thinking that kids are really amazing. What they can deal with at such young ages. Inspiring. Watching this documentary made me rethink the belief held that kids are the weak members of the human herd. The strength, intelligence, emotional acuity, and resilliance they demonstrate is incredible.

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