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  • Writer's pictureDawn Ford

Irene's Ghost

Updated: Jan 16, 2020

March 2019

At the bottom of this post is an introduction from the extremely talented film director Iain Cunningham and I urge everyone, if you can, to go along and see the second viewing of this endearing, heartbreaking and at times uplifting true story of Iain's enormous loss of his mother Irene, when she died when he was only 3years old.

Iain got in touch with me a week or so ago and of course I was more than happy to let him 'spread the word' here on this page.

And this afternoon I sat mesmerised to the big screen. I don't want to give much away as it really is a 'must see'.

But I will say this:

It touches on the brutal reality of loss, of grief, of the resistance or reluctance to sharing 'painful ' memories, of a need to 'bury the past', of the need to 'stay strong', of the need to 'pretend' the pain isn't there, when actually it's all consuming. And finally it touches on mental health and the taboo that still exists around it and grief in general.

And where there has been loss, there is often anxiety, depression, addictions, self destructive behaviours and habits. And Iain spoke to me after about that anxiety and depression about the physical symptoms of 'grief' that he suffered and of the unquenchable thirst to find his 'mum', through tracking down her family, friends, neighbours and school friends.

There were too many 'poignant' moments for me to share but I will say the scene embracing his dad, near the end needed no words. The sister-in-law ( I think) and her words regarding Iain's dad "He was very strong, kept it all together" struck a deep chord again.

Anyone who follows my work closely will know that 'keep strong' is like an order, which can be a life sentence to 'holding grief in'. When it is your choice it saddens me, but when those words - "You must stay strong for your children/ your son/your daughter/your mother/your father/your brother/your sister" are spoken by another then that makes me angry. Because in reality that actually means 'your feelings don't count'. WE will allow your mum/dad/brother/sister to grieve, to do what is normal and natural but you cannot. You Must be STRONG. You Must Keep it all BURIED.

This film should be screened in schools, in colleges, in work places. In fact everywhere because as the audience showed today parts of this story resonated with many present. And I thank you and praise you Iain Cunningham enormously for sharing this very personal story, which was told in a beautiful uniquely combined animation & documentary style, for bringing many of these 'taboos' out in to the open, for discussion.

Hi, Just wanted to let you know about Irene's Ghost, a documentary screening at The Courtyard Hereford as part of Borderlines Film Festival next Sunday and Monday, 10th and 11th March with a Q and A to follow. It's an uplifting and moving film dealing with grief, loss and love.

More info here:’s-ghost-pg or

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