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About the Film

Alcoholism

Memory

Death and Dying

Family History

Dialogue

Conclusion


Copyright © 2000 Trish Williams

The Issues

Losing Tom is a story that for me began with alcoholism and the effect it had on my entire family. My family and I experienced the twists and turns of advanced alcoholism, watching and living through a tragedy that ended in death. The complicated grieving process and series of losses that my family and I suffered through my father’s loss of control from his addiction had common elements.


I began to see the parallel from my father’s family secrets and social stigma to my own family’s social stigma and my own conflict between choosing to forget or remember him.”

The underlying issues behind this tragedy are addiction and dysfunctional families. For my father, this story began with his own complicated grieving process over the suicide of his father in 1943 when he was 13 years old, along with a family predisposition toward alcoholism. For my mother this story began with her own mother’s alcoholism and the repeated pattern of dysfunctional relationships in her own marriage. My mother’s awareness (seeing through the denial) came late in her marriage, for my father it never came. My sister and I began to examine the disease and struggle with our own reconciliation of the impact of the disease on ourselves and our family early in our adult lives. We have all come to different places with our independent perspectives and unique perceptions and experiences. Four generations later, this film probes the question about the future generation, the issues and concerns for my son and how Losing Tom will affect his life.

By exposing many family secrets and closely examining alcoholism and addiction, dysfunctional families, denial, social stigma, death and dying, social death, disenfranchised grief, complicated grieving, secondary losses, and collective memory of the family, I have processed my own experiences and re-aligned my memory crisis. This arose from my experience of numerous losses and the emotional pain of not being able to resolve my father’s illness which had reached the stage of slow death, and ultimately the making of this film. Along with this came the realization that a large part of the problem was the family secrets which were being maintained. I truly understood this once I scoured my mother’s house for photographs, and came upon photos of my grandfather (my father’s father), who had been consciously forgotten after his suicide. This brought the issue of his suicide and the family amnesia to the forefront. I began to see the parallel from my father’s family secrets and social stigma to my own family’s social stigma and my own conflict between choosing to forget or remember him.

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