The Healing Power of Storytelling: Expecting Sunshine Documentary

By |2016-10-13T17:09:12+00:00April 20th, 2016|Birth, Courageous Mama, Pregnancy, Rainbow Birth Stories|1 Comment

I believe in the healing power of stories. By listening to others and by being open with our own experiences, we can break down the walls of pain and isolation. We can be freed through this vulnerability. We create community by communicating, accepting and celebrating one another’s unique journeys. Through my loss and the new normal life I’m now living, I have witnessed this power. As an artist, author and bereaved mom, I am passionate about storytelling.

Alexis Marie Chute family Expecting Sunshine memoir documentary film

Currently, I am in the midst of filming a documentary which is close to my heart. It is called Expecting Sunshine: The truth about pregnancy after loss. The story is one I am very familiar with: my own. It shares my experience of losing my son Zachary at birth from a random genetic condition called Tuberous Sclerosis in 2010. This story is told within the larger framework of my two rainbow pregnancies that followed.

Just today I spent the morning searching for film festivals. There was one category in particular that caught my attention: Academy Award-Qualifying Festivals. My heart sped up. I was not picturing the glamorous walk across the stage. Well, maybe just a little. What really encouraged me, however, was the potential to show my film to thousands of people through this type of platform. I envisioned busting through the brick-barriers of taboo erected around this topic.

The bereaved community is making excellent headway on removing the stigma of loss. This is true. However, we are not there yet. I see the evidence of this in my own creative work. For example, with my memoir Expecting Sunshine: A heartwarming journey of grief, healing and pregnancy after loss; I received many disheartening responses from the big publishers. Again and again, they told my agent how great my book is, how well written it is and how they were moved in reading it – BUT – the topic is too sensitive for them to publish. It is too risky for them, they wrote in their rejection emails. (I have now found a publisher. You can read about this on my recent blog post on Wanted Chosen Planned – plus, find a way to get involved.)

Expecting Sunshine Alexis Marie Chute memoir and film

All the statistics around loss should be evidence enough to the huge number of people that need this compassionate support and who would benefit from the healing stories of others. Again it all comes back to the power of storytelling. Despite the resistance I have faced, I am determined. As long as families suffer the deaths of their children, as long as we partake in this roller-coaster-ride which is the human experience; I will advocate for these meaningful stories.

For Expecting Sunshine documentary, I have interviewed over 20 women, men and professionals. I’ve cried from behind the camera as families shared their stories – powerfully inspiring stories of resiliency and hope.

I interviewed renowned public speaker Dr. Alan Wolfelt, author of many books including Understanding Your Grief: Ten essential touchstones for finding hope and healing your heart (a book I’d highly recommend). I interviewed Kiley Hanish of the Return to Zero Center for Healing. She opened up about her loss, the Center’s healing retreats and yoga, and the feature film Return to Zero. And last but not least, I interviewed Pregnancy After Loss Support founder Lindsey Henke, who shared this community’s mission and beliefs. Expecting Sunshine documentary also followed my own recent pregnancy, including the delivery of my second rainbow baby, Luca.

“The first film of its kind that tackles the honest emotions of grief, fear and hope the mom expecting again after a loss experiences during her next pregnancy. We need more films like this that raise awareness about the struggles of pregnancy and parenting after loss.”

 – Lindsey Henke, founder of Pregnancy After Loss Support

These are all powerful moving stories. I am honoured to create an opportunity for these diverse voices to speak out into the world with hope – and practical methods to help in the healing process. That is what this film is all about. Education and encouragement.

It is obvious that the death of a child is an unimaginably terrible loss, but less acknowledged is the stresses and worry that accompanies subsequent pregnancies. I’ve been there. Sweating, panicked that I’d find myself caught in a tragic déjà vu. Pregnancy after loss does not make everything all better. For those of you who are living this right now, know you are not alone. Healing is possible and joy is on the way. I have seen this evidenced again and again in those interviewed in the film. Their stories are inspiring.

If you want to help me in bringing Expecting Sunshine documentary to life, please consider contributing to our crowdfunding campaign. We are so close to our goal. You can read more about how to support this passion project by clicking here. My crew also came up with special ways you can commemorate your deceased and rainbow children through special credits in the film. Please help spread the word about this project. Share this post. Tell a friend. This film will make a huge difference for many people.

Alexis Marie Chute Expecting Sunshine Aaron Chute filmming documentary

Thank you for reading. Please comment below with YOUR story. How did you survive your loss and your subsequent pregnancy? I would love to hear from you!

 

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About the Author:

Alexis Marie Chute
Alexis Marie Chute is an award-winning artist, author and filmmaker. She resides in Alberta, Canada with her husband Aaron and their three living children Hannah, Eden and Luca. Her second-born, Zachary, died at birth from a random cardiac tumor in 2010. Alexis Marie wrote a memoir called Expecting Sunshine about her pregnancy that followed. Through vulnerability and poetic language, she revealed the anxiety-filled anticipation of having a baby after losing a baby. While pregnant with her fourth, Alexis Marie created Expecting Sunshine Documentary to support bereaved yet growing families and educate the public of what pregnancy after loss really looks like. Alexis Marie has her Bachelor of Fine Art in visual art from the University of Alberta and her Masters of Fine Art in creative writing from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. Photo Life Magazine named her an “Emerging Canadian Photographer,” Avenue Magazine included her in their round-up of the Top 40 Under 40, and she was the recipient of the John Poole Award for promotion of the Arts. Alexis Marie was featured in print and video as a Mother-Expert in Today’s Parent Magazine’s Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss awareness campaign, which won first place at the 38th Annual National Magazine Awards for Best Editorial Package on the Web. Alexis Marie is a highly regarded speaker and has presented on art, writing, bereavement and the healing capacities of creativity around the world. She is widely published in anthologies, newspapers and magazines and her artworks on loss, healing and resiliency have been exhibited across North America. Wanted Chosen Planned is Alexis Marie’s blog about life after the loss of a child. You can follow Alexis Marie on Twitter at both @_Alexis_Marie and @expectsunbook, Facebook at both Always Alexis Marie and Expecting Sunshine, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Tumblr. She can be reached by email, and you can see her work at her websites Alexis Marie Chute, Alexis Marie Art, Alexis Marie Writes, Wanted Chosen Planned, and Expecting Sunshine.

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