The phenomenon of perinatal grief has largely gone unrecognized; parents who live through the experience frequently find themselves isolated, with no resources to support them. Co-directed by Samuel-A. Caron and France Gallant, Moments of Life breaks the silence on this sensitive subject. We follow a group of bereaved parents who organize to offer support in their region, driven by a determination to reduce isolation. This film is both a conversation-starter and a source of hope and inspiration.
Thousands of Canadian families are affected by perinatal grief every year, and yet the issue has remained largely unrecognized. Parents who’ve lived through the experience of miscarriage or the death of a newborn find themselves feeling very much alone, with nobody to listen to them. The health-care system doesn’t have the resources to help, and there are few tools that allow community members to offer support.
Co-directed by Samuel-A. Caron and France Gallant, Moments of Life shares the stories of women and men who’ve experienced this particular form of grief, shining light on a sensitive subject. We follow bereaved parents who form a group in the Edmundston region, where they live, to offer support for people who’ve been through the same painful experience. Driven by their desire to bring comfort to others and raise awareness about the legitimacy of their pain, these parents are determined to have their voices heard. And through education, they aim to break the silence around perinatal grief, counter common misunderstandings, and help people who’ve lived through the experience feel less isolated.
In following their efforts, the film is not only a conversation-starter but also a source of hope and inspiration for other parents. Grief endures, but sorrow can be shared.
In Canada, one in four pregnancies ends without the birth of a baby. One in four. It’s a shocking number, a statistic that sends a shiver up our spines. It casts a shadow on pregnancy and all it symbolizes: beauty, nature, and gentleness. Pregnant women are said to represent life, love, hope, joy….
While different kinds of grief shouldn’t be compared, it’s hard to imagine a worse tragedy than the death of one’s child. In theory, we should be ready to do anything to bring even a little bit of comfort to parents going through this terrible ordeal. But in practice, it’s not so simple. Our beliefs, our values, and our prejudices lead us to create a “scale of legitimacy” when it comes to different types of bereavement—a hierarchy informed by factors like the age of the baby, or in some cases, the number of weeks of gestation.
Parents living through perinatal grief—the death of an unborn baby or one just a few days old—come to understand this very quickly. In the eyes of many, their “misfortune” is nothing compared to the tragedy of parents who’ve lost a “real” child.
“Yes, but I’m sure you understand… It’s worse for her, because she lost a real baby…”
“Anyway, at that stage it wasn’t much more than a shrimp…”
“It’s been a year already. Get over it… You’ll have another one.”
These are some typical responses to grieving parents, each of whom has their own unique and harrowing story to tell. The common denominator is their suffering, and the desire to have others understand it and acknowledge its legitimacy. But gradually, with the effects of the passage of time on grief, there is a seemingly universal need among these parents to reach out, to help, to support others who have, like them, been through the loss of a child. On this level, few distinctions are made between, say, medically indicated termination, death in utero, or the passing of a four-year-old child. These tragic events challenge us to no longer see life in black-and-white terms. Instead, we are plunged into grey areas, before slowly being able to rediscover other colours.
With this documentary, we want to increase public awareness of the experience of parents living through perinatal grief, without being sentimental or resorting to tear-jerking. Instead, we hope to lead viewers to develop a sense of empathy with them, to spark a wider conversation that’s essential for the future of our society, and to bring support to grieving parents by showing them they are not alone.
Moments of Life brings a message of hope—one that opens the door to more dialogue.
Samuel-A. Caron and France Gallant
A SPECIAL THANKS TO
GROUPE LES PERSÉIDES DE QUÉBEC
WITH THE COLLABORATION OF
PRODUCTIONS APPALACHES TEAM
FRANCE GALLANT, PRODUCTIONS APPALACHES
RESEARCHERS AND DIRECTORS
DIRECTORS OF PHOTOGRAPHY
LOCATION SOUND RECORDERS
SOUND EDITOR AND MIXER
CHARLES GAGNON, DIGITAL CUT
CLAUDE J. FOURNIER
MUSICAL DIRECTOR AND PIANO
ASSISTANT MUSICAL DIRECTOR AND GUITARS
JEAN GARNEAU, VILAIN STUDIO
VIDEO TECHNICAL SUPPORT
MANY THANKS TO
THE FAMILIES OF
CLAUDE LACENAIRE AND JOANNE LEBLANC
COMITÉ DE SENSIBILISATION AU DEUIL PÉRINATAL D’EDMUNDSTON
GROUPE DE SOUTIEN LES PERSÉIDES DE QUÉBEC
CÉRÉMONIE DE LA FÊTE DES ANGES DE QUÉBEC
CÉRÉMONIE UNE ÉTINCELLE ENVOLÉE D’EDMUNDSTON
AND ALSO TO
LA MAISON DE LA FAMILLE LOUIS-HÉBERT, QUÉBEC
L’ÉGLISE SAINTE-CÉCILE, QUÉBEC
AU JARDIN DE GUS
LE JARDIN BOTANIQUE DU NOUVEAU-BRUNSWICK
PRODUCED THROUGH THE FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTION OF
LA PROVINCE DU NOUVEAU-BRUNSWICK
LE FONDS TELUS
Crédit d’impôt pour production cinématographique ou magnétoscopique canadienne
Canadian Francophonie Studio – Acadie
A coproduction of
The National Film Board of Canada
© 2020 National Film Board of Canada / Productions Appalaches