Eterneva Sponsors Special Discussion About the Film Clouds

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( — December 10, 2020) — They are prone to being avoidant – not only of the circumstances but of the emotions they may experience, especially grief. This view on how to approach death is long embedded in our culture and history; however, many advocates today are making efforts to change these perceptions.

Why do we all fear death so tragically? Why do we feel that it must only be filled with pain and sorrow? What if we can accept our fate instead of avoiding the pain behind the inevitable, and live each day understanding that life will not be forever? What if we could change the grieving process, and instead of mourning a lost one, celebrate their life?

Good news. We are slowly beginning to see a shift in our cultural attitudes, and it is in thanks to progressive visionaries who want to aid those who fear and grieve death – they want to show them that death does not have to instill ongoing anxiety; instead, acceptance of our fate and shifts in our memorial rituals can both improve our daily living and help us transition once we lose a loved one.

Here we are addressing two different concepts: first, acceptance of death, and second, changing how we grieve death. Only once we can reestablish our mindset around these two events can we battle Americans’ stigma around death, dying, and grief.

First, let’s look at the latter: changing how we grieve death. It is the classic American tradition to host a funeral once a loved one is gone. We then have a burial service, utilizing that single space as our place of mourning and as the place we can revisit when we want to remember. But, why does the memory of a loved one have to be so melancholy? Is there a way to alter our views and instead develop a strategy to honor our lost loved ones daily, without the need to visit the grave? The reality is that losing a loved one changes us. And Eterneva, a grief wellness company based out of Austin, Texas, is combating how we mourn our lost ones. Instead of limiting our memories to those of sadness, they have introduced an avenue to bring the lost loved ones into individuals daily living: transforming their ashes into diamonds. These diamonds can then serve as a daily reminder of the love we had for the person and allows us to cope with loss in a new, spiritual way.

Eterneva, founded in 2016, is just one company that has introduced this concept of changing our perception around death. More recently, American actor, director, and filmmaker, Justin Baldoni, released a film that portrayed the real-life story of a teen, Zach Sobiech, who lost his life due to complications from osteosarcoma – a type of bone cancer. Released in 2020, Clouds takes a unique look into the last years of Zach’s life. Although a time that others may perceive as depressing and sorrowful, Baldani instead tells the story of the emotional journey through his final years, outlining both the pain that death brings and the inspiration that it brings to Zach’s life. Instead of focusing on the end, Zach takes the time to embrace life and nourish the relationships with those around him. This idea of living once we know we are dying pulls at the strings of the audience. A real lesson can be found for those open to change: Why do we live as if we have forever when we know that it will one day end?

In a recent in-depth discussion, Justin Baldoni participated in a conversation about the film. He criticized how our current stigma around death and dying has prevented individuals from connecting with reality; he shared his beliefs on how we as a society, and more particularly, how professionals in Hollywood, can help remove this stigma. The discussion was sponsored by Eterneva and others. Additional participants included Adrienne Boissy from the Cleveland Clinic and Natasha Singh, ICU RN at Memorial Sloan Kettering. The discussion is moderated by Michael Hebb, founder of

Here are the key points Justin Baldoni identifies as ways we can alter our relationship with death, dying, and grief: 

1-     Opening Discussions About Our Last Days: Bringing More to Life 

Today, we do not often talk about death, especially with those who are dying. We feel that those involved are better off avoiding these challenging discussions. However, this evasion of truth creates a separation between reality and fiction. In Clouds, Justin focuses on how death can become anyone’s reality in any given moment. And if we can learn to live with this belief, people can have a greater connection between the now and the then – Without the fear of dying, we can learn to embrace life a bit more. 

Justin explained, “…throughout the entire experience I had this belief that it’s not until you find out you’re dying that you truly change your behavior. Something happens, at least in all the experiences I’ve had with friends, where when there are no other options, you see the world differently. You know it’s like taking the pill, and you wake up in the matrix, and suddenly you’re like, oh wait a second. And what if we didn’t have to wait for that moment. That was the premise of the show.”

2-     Portraying the Truth 

According to Baldoni, when films come out that feature dying, they are loaded with inaccuracies. Individuals working in the healthcare industry identify the many misconceptions that can create controversy amongst illnesses taking Americans’ lives. One avenue in which we can bridge this gap and provide truthful information to audiences is by linking healthcare workers with film creators. By partnering and creating authentic portrayals of what someone may experience while dying, we can allow individuals to connect with those experiences honestly and humbly. Their perception of death will then be based on a form of reality, rather than only fiction. 

“I think for so long our worlds have been disconnected… We’ve been operating in silos, which is why I would say the majority of the time when movies come out that features someone who’s dealing with some sort of illness, the healthcare community just goes, oh god, just call us … it’s so not accurate… I feel like there’s a way that we in the entertainment business can also help influence the health care business.”

3-     Making Stories, Such as ‘Clouds,’ More Accessible 

Hollywood has long been an education source for American society. Whether it is a drama or documentary, an audience’s ability to connect with a film has influenced their belief regarding the world around them. If we could portray more honesty in our films rather than focus on appeasing the critics, we could make more valuable stories available. We could portray more truths.

Justin shares, “I think we’ve forgotten our way; we’ve forgotten why we want to make things. Right in the same way that a doctor can forget why he does surgery – It’s not to have the Ferrari in the driveway and the five houses and the beach house; it’s to help people live better and relieve pain. For the filmmaker, for the produce, for the studio executives, it can’t just be about making money. And what I’m advocating for in our business is the double bottom line, which is yes, of course, we should make money because money shows that people are consuming what we’re making. But the other bottom line is what are we doing with it, how are we affecting people, who are the hearts that we’re touching.”

Hope for the Future

At a quick glance, a grief-wellness company and filmmaker have limited in common. However, these two different examples making headway in removing the stigma around grief and dying show that just anyone, any company, any industry, can make an impact. It can start out as a small idea and grow from there. Take Eterneva, for example. The company was started by Adelle Archer after she lost her mentor, Tracy. After receiving Tracy’s ashes, Adelle wanted to memorialize her friend in a more positive, ongoing way. Once confronted with limited options, she started Eterneva. And, since then, the company’s influence among the grief community has grown. As for Baldoni, he was an actor with a saddening experience losing his uncle. From this experience, combined with his passion for film, he created Clouds. He was able to share the heartening story of an influential man living his final days.

We, as a society, can change the stigma around death, dying, and grief. We can learn from those around us and challenge our inner belief that these concepts must not be discussed. Only by doing so can we ease our pain when we experience loss. More importantly, we can help those who suffer daily from knowing that their days are ending soon. We can ultimately provide a sense of happiness and joy to the world around us.