Even a “suburban mom”, as she calls herself, can make a film when it’s as personal and passionate as this — about her own daughter, who died at 19 of bulimia, an eating disorder.
The film, called “Someday Melissa” and now in the editing stages, has become for Ms. Avrin salve, distraction and cause — a way to get the word out to other families grappling with eating disorders that they are not alone; to sound the alarm that eating disordershave the highest mortality rate of any mental illness; to help make sense of the senseless event that was losing her teenage daughter.
“I kept saying, ‘This is an amazing way for me to channel my grief,’ ” Ms. Avrin said. “But it also allowed me to put off grieving.”
Ms. Avrin, 56, got the idea for the film from one of Melissa’s therapists, Danna Markson, who introduced her to Jeffrey Cobelli, 27, a filmmaker. Over the last several months of working on the project, Ms. Avrin has come to know more than she ever intended to about eating disorders — how their seriousness has been underestimated, their treatment underinsured, their deaths underreported.
The process hasn’t been easy, and some, like her ex-husband, initially questioned the impulse to do it at all. Melissa’s best friend since first grade, Nicole Kendrick, who also suffers from an eating disorder, said she was incredulous when she first learned that Ms. Avrin was making the film. “I thought she was crazy,” Ms. Kendrick said. “I guess I didn’t realize how deep a mother’s love can run.”