York prof’s film on children’s grief premieres Dec. 15 at MaRS

Two small children
Two siblings share a kiss
Christine Jonas-Simpson
Christine Jonas-Simpson

Christine Jonas-Simpson, professor of nursing in the Faculty of Health at York University, will premiere her new documentary Always with me Dec. 15 at the MaRS Discovery District.

The film, which explores child and adolescent bereavement, is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada. It was produced by Simpson and her research team, comprised of York nursing Professor Rose Steele, Faculty of Health alumna Leeat Granek (BA ’01, MA ’04, PhD ’09), University of Victoria Professor Emerita Betty Davies, and University of Minnesota Twin Cities Professor Joann O’Leary.

The film explores two research questions:  What is the experience of children who grieve, mourn, and live with the loss and continuing presence of an infant sibling in the context of their home and school life? And, what positive grief outcomes result when a child has a continuing bond with a deceased infant sibling?

In the documentary, children share their ongoing relationships with their baby siblings, describe their experiences of grieving and mourning, and provide messages about what might help to other children experiencing similar losses.

​​Specializing in arts-based research focused on experiences of living and transforming with loss, Jonas-Simpson has spent the last 10 years researching perinatal loss.

Motivated by her own personal experiences, Jonas-Simpson has focused on the profound and lasting effect the loss of an infant can have on mothers, fathers, siblings and nurses. With  interdisciplinary colleagues and her film team, she has produced four research-based documentaries: Why did baby die? Mothering children living with the loss, love and continuing presence of a baby sibling (2010); Enduring love: Transforming loss (2011); Nurses grieve too: Insights into experiences with perinatal Loss (2011); and Always with me: Understanding bereaved children whose baby sibling died (2014).

The event begins 7pm at the MaRS Discovery District, the community partner for the event. The screening is being held in support of Bereaved Families of Ontario -Toronto Chapter (BFO), a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting bereaved families through self-help and mutual aid. The event is free and open to the public. Donations to BFO are welcome. To help with space planning, organizers request those interested in attending to RSVP at http://bit.ly/1wmiPge.

All of the documentaries produced by Jonas-Simpson can be used for teaching and learning purposes. They are excellent tools for assisting families and other individuals living with grief. Jonas-Simpson has partnered with Innovation York, which is York University’s industry liaison and commercialization unit, to develop a distribution strategy to ensure that maximum benefit is derived from her work.

For more information on her journey, the documentaries or to view the trailers, visit the Bereavement Documentaries website.