Real-life voices embraced in award-winning bereavement video

A new video to support bereaved parents uses their own words and experiences, rather than the advice of "experts".


A still from the video.

A video for bereaved parents developed as a UNSW PhD project and featuring the words and experiences of Australians has received international accolades.

The three-minute animated video By My Side, based on a book of the same name, is a project by Kids Cancer Centre at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Australian cancer charity Redkite and UNSW Sydney.

It uses the words of real parents talking about their experiences after losing a child, and is visualised in animation by Tristan Parry of Sydney company Media One. The video won two prizes in the US Creative Summit Awards 2017, recognising exceptional work by small advertising agencies and video production companies.

The video was the end stage of a UNSW PhD project by Dr Leigh Donovan, who was eager to create a resource that would resonate specifically with Australian parents.

As well as being intended for a US or UK audience, many of the existing resources for bereaved parents came from an expert perspective, advising bereaved parents about grief, what to expect and how to respond.

But Dr Donovan’s research, involving a review of hospital-based bereavement services and data from 119 parents (including 41 interviews), discovered bereaved parents felt the only people who can truly relate are those who have also been through the experience.

“This is the first Australian resource to share the real voice and lived experience of such a large collective of bereaved parents,” she says.

“One of the key aims of By My Side was to share the peer-to-peer voice with bereaved parents and share their experience with the broader community in the hope that we can break down some of the myths around grieving, and educate others how to walk alongside a grieving parent with insight and compassion.”

The video is also available in Mandarin and Italian, and could become available in more languages in future. To order a free copy of the book, email Redkite.