dana perry, graham moore, and what mattered at the oscars

You know which two moments really mattered at the Oscars this year. You know because they jumped off the screen with their audacity, authenticity, humanity and courageous, revelatory love.

The first occurred when Dana Perry, hefting her award for best documentary short, dedicated it to her late son, Evan. “We lost him to suicide. We should talk about suicide out loud. This is for him.” The second came when Graham Moore, hefting his own hunk of Oscar for adapted screenplay, revealed that he had tried to kill himself at age 16. “I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere. Yes, you do.”

The suicidal urge and action are a mystery. What form and depth this darkness takes, no one can imagine. Answers will always escape us, just as answers always elude the living in the weeks and months and years following such a death. The whys, the what-ifs, the how-could-this-bes. The what-could-we-have-dones. All were asked after Robin Williams took his own life. All are asked after every suicide. My husband’s, my sisters, everyone’s. We ask the questions. We cup our hands to our ears. There is no reply to be heard. There isn’t anything we can say — to each other, to the dead — to satisfy the urge to know why it happened, the need to nail down its cause and meaning.

But we can still say something. Maybe there’s no answer to hear, but we can still fill the void with our love and electric impulse to connect. We can still speak of the unspeakably hard, because only by talking can we ease our pain and the pain of others.

Perry was right: This needs to be discussed. Moore was right: We need to make room for eccentricity, difference, all that makes us singularly and miraculously who we are.

Let’s talk to each other. And then let’s listen.

10 thoughts on “dana perry, graham moore, and what mattered at the oscars

  1. Profound thoughts, Amy, of which I can totally relate because as you know, I also lost my sister to suicide. We have to have loud, open, often dialogue about this; especially for those who are suffering from such deep despair so perhaps they’ll have the courage to reach out to us for help.

  2. Agree with everything you wrote. As a suicide survivor who has found a small support network through the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, I know that talking and listening to others helps. I continue to reach out for support and to offer my support even though mine is a recent loss. I didn’t watch the Oscars so this was news to me but it’s a blessing the individuals found an opportunity to speak to a larger audience. Please keep writing about your experiences-it helps me a lot. Thank you.

  3. It has only been seven weeks since my husband passed. I feel like I am hyper aware of every article and message. Everything is a sign. Mocking me. How could I have not seen this coming?

    • Oh, Christy, I am so sorry. And I know what you mean. Though none of us can ever see it (It) coming, in retrospect we feel we should have. Go easy on yourself, okay? Bless you and take care.

    • Christy, you are in my prayers. You aren’t alone & Amy’s writings have helped me a lot to sort through my own experience of losing my husband to suicide.

  4. Amy, I heard you on Moth radio and bought your book the next day. (I’m still in Ecuador with you) Thank you for writing it! You are F.S.O. after a suicide, and I have always been easily overwhelmed, and default to “I should kill myself” because “I can’t figure shit out.” I won’t do it, because I know (even during the times I can’t feel it) that the life force coming through deep in my soul is precious and limited. I really don’t want to cut it short, but in the face of things that need my attention, critical thinking skills and judgement, I’m not the best prepared. It makes my blessed life feel like a struggle, a daily uphill battle in my head that I can’t get a handle on. The overwhelmtion is oppressive. I try and remind myself to be grateful, as I have so much to be grateful for. But it’s the gratitude that the life force is presently cursing through my body, and that I continue to breathe in and out in spite of my mental anguish, that gets me through the day. “Suicide prevention” is vital (pun intended) but maybe we should call it “life force gratitude” and help people cultivate that to get out from under the weight of hopelessness and pain?

    • Lauren, thank you. You’re right: gratitude is the key. So much of life *hurts* in ways that we rarely share — not openly — with each other. If we did, maybe all of us would have an easier time of it, realizing that everyone has a story, experiences suffering, knows pain. The joys of being alive occur in the midst of all that, I think. And so life becomes more miraculous, more a cause for gratitude. . . . In any case, thank you for coming here, and thank you for reading my book. Take care.

  5. I opened your book this morning. I have been trying to write my own story and have been stuck in self edits from “you” to “he”. I still find myself writing to my husband. Maybe that is what I need to do. I don’t know. Thank you for sharing your journey with all of me.

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