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Jonathan Agin Headshot

Open Letter to Aaron Eckhart

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AARON ECKHART
Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Recently, you revealed that while studying and preparing for a new movie role, you went to a support group for grieving parents who just lost a child. I heard you talk about it on the Howard Stern show and then read this article in Us Weekly. I am here to say that this is not acceptable. As someone with no acting ability whatsoever, I do not fully understand your craft; however I will say that trying to blend into a room full of parents expressing such raw emotion in order for you to "play a part" is completely reprehensible to me. I say all this even though I have frankly enjoyed many of the roles that you have played and will continue to watch you act. I am not suggesting a boycott or that I dislike you.

You see, I am one of those parents who has sat in that room and participated as these raw emotions have flown like water over Niagara Falls. My amazing daughter Alexis was taken from me two weeks shy of her fifth birthday by an indiscriminate killer called brain cancer. I have sat in this room, tears welling up in my eyes, emotions raw, listening to others talk about this most difficult of losses. The thought that someone would sit in on these discussions that has not experienced the loss of a child, listened to the horrors of losing a child and utilize it for research through deception simply does not sit well with me. Maybe I am being overly sensitive. That may be a fair assessment, and no doubt some of you reading this may express this opinion. You are certainly entitled.

So, you really want to know what it is like to lose a child? Well let me tell you from someone who just marked three years without his hero on January 14, 2014. For the first year, you are numb. You go through life each day and the simple victory is rising from bed each morning. There is fog all around you and daily functioning can be a monumental task. As the fog lifts and time progresses, the pain becomes more real and palpable. It becomes crushing at times. Imagine a plastic bag placed over your head. Imagine the inability to breath, heart pounding through your chest. Imagine for a minute that you have no compass for your life. As time moves forward, the days of these feelings do become fewer thankfully. It is still a task to get out of bed each morning, care for yourself and your other children and focus on many of the trivial aspects of life. But it does become slightly less difficult most of the time. You never mark a day where the loss of your child is not the most significant aspect of your consciousness, though.

But then there are the anniversaries. Having just marked three years without my daughter, as I stated above, this date came upon me with such abject trepidation. It almost became a self-fulfilling, crushing prophecy. The plastic bag drew ever so tightly around my head and I barely escaped with a modicum of sanity. Think I am exaggerating? I would hope not after your brief experience in my world.

The Us Weekly article suggests that when you left the session, you felt as though you lost a child yourself. You may have experienced some small measure of what the pain is like; however, you have no concept of what it truly means to lose a child, and hopefully for your sake, you never will know this pain. It is not something that I would wish on any human being. Those of us who have lost children to diseases such as cancer, or some other process or accident have not had the choice regarding this experience. It is not something that anyone would choose to experience, and that may go as the most obvious statement of my letter to you. You are a tremendously talented actor that entertains millions of people, including myself. I can understand on the surface that it is important to research your roles in great depth. I simply think you made a very poor choice in this regard. One that was highly insensitive to those parents who unfortunately know what it is like to lose a child and will never be able to step out of the role that was unfortunately chosen for them.

If you wish to discuss your role further, what it is like to lose a child or anything in-between, I am more than happy to chat and quite easy to find through my website: www.jonathanagin.com.

Sincerely,

Jonathan Agin, bereaved parent for life