Stillbirth & Surfing

For those of you who've seen Seaworthy, this is probably a bit redundant as it's a direct excerpt from the film. But I decided to put my story of losing Willow & making Noelani online for a non-surfing audience. The film & the blurb I wrote on Vimeo are below.

Mark Twain said that there aren’t enough words in all the languages in the world to express the sorrow of losing a child. This is a short film I produced while grieving for my daughter, Willow, who was stillborn.

This short actually forms the centrepiece of a feature length surf film I made, called Seaworthy. Since the film’s release, I have received many heartfelt words of sympathy & encouragement. There have been scores of letters & emails from surfers from all over the world that have been sensitive & authentic & moving. I have been especially touched by the messages from those who have travelled their own grief journeys. I am awed & humbled that my work somehow resonated with others’ broken hearts.

A common theme echoed among the beautiful feedback I’ve received is that the story deserves a wider audience. Surf films, by definition, appeal to only a limited demographic, & the kind of surf films I make are left-of-centre even within surfing circles. So I decided to post this online, in the hope that it may reach a few others, especially those who may be living with loss & longing.

All of us experience & express grief in varied ways, which is a good thing since we’re all different. Because I’m a surfer, this is how I gave expression to my experience of bereavement.

Thanks for taking the time to watch.


  1. Hi Nathan,and sorry i don`t know the name of your wife,
    We lost our little one as well a long time ago. This psalms is telling us something loud and clear. Psalms 139:16 Yours eyes saw even the embryo of me, and in your book all its parts were down in writing, as regards the days when they were formed and there was not yet one among them.
    It seems that the God of the bible is very well aware of the formation of life and that he is keeping all of this in his bottomless memory. Acts 24:15 is really giving us a lot of hope concerning those little ones.
    We are all the same in front of God.
    I'm not very articulate ,but my wife and i found a lot of comfort in those scriptures. I hope that this will give you a little bit of comfort as well.

  2. Hi Nathan, as it happens we just finished watching Seaworthy tonight. Always a moving and inspiring watch.

  3. as a surfer and photographer, seaworthy is a great watch with lots to offer visually and stimulates my constant need for a wave, but as a father of three boys seawothy makes me think of how lucky i am, how blessed i have been, what you have shared is truely amazing and my heart goes out to you and your family, thank you from a fellow surfer, mike c

  4. Simply heartfelt and beautiful...

  5. Fab, I think you are wonderfully articulate. Thank you for the verses, they do give me hope. I am sorry for your loss. God bless you friend.

  6. Joe, thanks for your generous words mate. I hear you guys just had your firstborn! Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. Congratulations!

  7. Mike, thanks for taking the time to write. I'm touched that my work's inspired you as a surfer & a father. Thank you!

  8. Hi Nathan,
    Simply beautiful and so very touching. I have shared this link, with some friends who have experienced loss, in the hope they too may feel comforted. Thank you for sharing such an intimate story Jo x

  9. Thanks Jo. Good thoughts to you & the family.

  10. hi nathan,
    i'm trying really hard not to cry as i type this. my wife and i lost our son, Orion last week. We all process the grief in different ways, i am also building a surfboard, as a way to process mine. It will be documented here:

    thanks so much for sharing this beautiful piece of broken heart with all of us. you are truly an inspiration.