________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 5 . . . . October 29, 1999

cover Surviving Death: Stories of Grief.

Elizabeth Murray (Director). Gillian Darling Kovanic (Producer).
Montreal, PQ: The National Film Board of Canada, 1998.
47 min., 8 sec., VHS, $39.95.
Order Number: C9198 029.

Subject Headings:
Death-Psychological aspects.
Bereavement-Psychological aspects.
Loss (Psychology).

Grades 11 and up / Ages 16 and up.
Review by Luella Sumner.

*** /4


"What I've learned from death ... is to just make the best of the life I have." "I never experienced that before, I never experienced someone going from alive to dead. Their motor shuts down. At that moment I realized that I was a living person."
This video is about people trying to establish a new relationship with life after losing a loved one. Seven people - parents, siblings, children and partners - reveal how they have been affected by the death of someone close to them. Their cultural backgrounds are varied, including Chinese and native Canadian, their ages range from 12-years-old to older adults, and the causes of death are different. But they all have one thing in common,-- the need to talk about their grief, to discuss how they felt, to express their anger, their doubts, and their sadness. They talked to relatives, to clergy, to psychiatrists and friends.
     The 12-year-old boy, in discussing his mother's death after a long illness, wished that he had been told in advance that his mother was dying, rather than having to face her death with no preparation. His mother's sister had consulted a psychiatrist who advised against telling the boy. She later took the boy to the psychiatrist, but he wouldn't talk about his mother with the doctor, saying that he couldn't talk about her with a stranger. But he valued the times his aunt would tell him about his mother and listen to him talk, and he was happy to be adopted by her.
     The older parents, having lost a son in a car accident, had had no chance to prepare, and so the shock was devastating to them. The father speaks of his own parents' pain on being told of the death of their grandson and how they couldn't bear to hear him (the father) express his grief to them. He accepted that this was their way of trying to deal with the loss, but he wanted to be able to talk to them about his own pain and was prevented from doing so by his consideration for his parents' feelings.
     This video could be a useful resource for those in grief and for those lending support to people who are grieving. It shows that there is no single path to recovery, that each person must find his/her own way, but that sharing grief is a necessary part of healing.


Luella Sumner is a librarian at the Red Rock Public Library in Red Rock, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364