Viewing Questions for The House I Keep - by Jhene Erwin

1. The film begins with Nicole, bereft and unable to cope with her loss. In her most desperate moment she finds a curious symbol of hope that empowers her to turn back to her life for at least one more day. In a small corner of her heart she can still see the wonder in life. It is this wonder that, even through her turmoil, manages to blossom to set her free. How do the film’s themes of loss and/or transformation relate to your lives?

2. With what scene or moment in the film do you most identify? Can you express why?

3. Nicole lives in a duplicity with which I think many of us identify. Her internal and external worlds are sharply juxtaposed. From the outside her life may appear mundane. (Grocery shopping, preparing dinner, etc.) Internally she is in mental and emotional chaos. Have you ever felt this kind of duplicity? How did it manifest? Have you managed to find balance again in your life? If not, please express how you are feeling. If so, how did you do it?

4. The scene in the bathtub is where we see Nicole in her darkest place. Many women have struggled throughout their lives with feelings of shame, loss and betrayal. These are all feelings that often occur for women who have miscarried. For some women, myself included, these unresolved feelings compound with miscarriage intensifying the trauma. Are there any events in your life whose themes are shame, loss or betrayal that you feel may have made healing from your loss more difficult? Part of my mourning process was going back to these root issues that occurred before I miscarried to find peace. Has anyone else had this experience? If so, can you share it with the group?

5. In order to heal, Nicole faces a gruesome repressed memory. When shooting this scene I was struck with the fact that the love Nicole feels for her husband is far more powerful than Nicole’s intense sadness. For Nicole, opening herself once again to the love that surrounds her allows her to reenter her life and truly transform. As Alice Monroe wrote, “Sometimes the heart has to break in order for it to open.” Was there one difficult defining moment in your experience, the accepting of which became pivotal to your recovery? How did you finally accept your loss? How was your experience like Nicole’s? How was it different?

6. How do you feel about Nicole’s relationship with her husband? How was your relationship impacted by your loss? Did it bring you closer or did it cause you to move apart? Why do you think this was your experience?

7. Ultimately, it became clear to me that I needed to create something beautiful that would not have existed had I not miscarried. Some women are able to go on to have a child and for them that is enough. This isn’t always possible or satisfying. I needed to know the world was different, even in a small way because of the lives that I’d lost. How did you choose to mourn your loss(es). Did you instinctually create something beautiful to change your life and/or the lives of others in some way? If so what was it? If not, can you think of something you might do? Would you like suggestions from the group? Do you feel it would it help you find greater peace to do so?