About the Film



Death and Dying

Family History



Copyright © 2000 Trish Williams


Cultural memories of the family are affected by many factors. I think my examination of the past has created new meaning to the memories of my family. Gender has not only shaped both my mother’s and father’s lives, but if affected how society has perceived them both individually and as a family. Family memories are portrayed differently from my parent’s generation to my generation. What they choose to forget, I choose to examine with a new perspective. What they remember and how it was remembered was influenced by social constructs of their generation, as well as their dysfunctional families who harbored dark secrets. I have re-examined their memories within a new social framework, and have a different memory of the family than previously existed. The social stigma has greatly affected the family memories for two generations. I hope this revised memory of the family will help my son in his life, and in his understanding of the family, as it has brought new meaning to me.

In editing my film, I am still aware of my pain and am still in disbelief regarding some of my father’s criminal actions resulting from his alcoholism. In writing this analysis along with the accompanying research, I realized not only my own potential fate, but the characteristics of dysfunctional families and addiction that I still question in myself and in my family. The experience of my father’s addiction was a real awakening for everyone in my family and triggered a self-evaluation and insight in us all.

I hope Losing Tom has changed the collective memory of the family, and that this personal exploration has helped in addressing and breaking the cycle of dysfunction within the family. The interconnectedness of the issues of addiction, family secrets, death and dying, complicated grieving has crossed several generations. I think the confrontation of these issues and the meaning behind the suffering has led me to new insight. I hope it can do the same for other people too. The remaining question I have is about my oldest sister, who experienced my father’s crisis from a distance, chose not to participate in this “public” project, and might ultimately not have the same level of insight the others in the family have. I wonder if her silence is perpetuating the family secrets?

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