Wednesday, June 30, 2010

holding on

In this scene of the Academy Award winning Japanese film, "Departures", the main character, Daigo, presents a stone-letter to his wife. He tells the story of his long-lost father who presented a similar stone to him when he was just a young boy. His father explained that when paper wasn't available one would find a stone to convey how they felt through the texture, weight, and size. This would then be sent to someone they knew well in place of an actual letter. As his only lasting connection to his father, Daigo held on to the stone to remind him of the relationship they once had.

This concept resonated with me. Not so much the communication possibilities of stones, but the fact that a stone could mean so much to Daigo simply because his father had given it to him. Stones like these are quite possibly the most ordinary, lifeless, emotionally inert objects in our natural world, but given as a gift they can become priceless.

For Daigo, holding on to the stone was holding on to the reality of having a father.

For parents who have lost children, holding on to mementos from the hospital or nursery is holding on to the reality of their child's existence. A simple, receiving blanket can become validation of a life. A "onesie" can become a framed piece of art. Suddenly every ordinary object connected to your baby becomes extraordinarily significant in your grief.

Collect as much as you can. Create remembrances and tributes and memorials and anything you need to have something to hold on to.


  1. I just lost my twin baby girls on the 16th. Thet were 18 weeks. when they were born they only lived a few min. I was able to hold them for hours shortly after they were takin from my wife and she was dashed to recovery. I have been dealing with some strong emotions. this is nothing that I have ever felt before. after reading this post I feel like I should find something to take home from the hospital today so I can always remember and reflect on the time I spent with them.

  2. Aleman: I'm so glad you were able to spend time with your girls. You will never forget those precious moments. Allow your daughters to be real in your life through talking and writing about them and remembering them with your spouse. Thanks for sharing.