Biography service is ‘A friend in death’.

A story we shared about the Sacred Heart Biography Service is very popular. Now we’re excited a TV program has been made about the service.

Writers from the team help people who are dying to put their life into a story, something that can have a really powerful impact. Sometimes it’s therapeutic but at the very least, it helps people gain a sense of themselves and what their lives mean to others.

The team at the ABC, Australia’s national broadcaster, explain: “The documentary follows two of the Service’s biographers, long-term volunteer Kerry Little and newly recruited Kris McIntyre as they record the biographies of their terminally-ill clients, opening an unexpected pathway of healing and acceptance through the telling of their wonderful life stories.”

It’s in her interview that Kerry Little describes the work as being “a friend in death”.

A friend in death - Kerry Little one of the Biography Service volunteers featured on Compass
Kerry Little one of the Biography Service volunteers featured on the Compass story.

On her LinkedIn profile Kris says:

“I’ve had an amazing career that keeps getting better, but the most important ‘job’ I’ve had has been working as a volunteer biographer with the Sacred Heart Biography Service at St Vincent’s Health Australia (Sydney).

“For me, it is a privilege that is simultaneously heartwarming and heart-breaking – with important lessons from the dying on how to live a good life,” she says.

“It’s tender, compassionate and thought-provoking. Most importantly, it reminds us that there is so much more to terminally-ill people than their disease.”

A friend in death - Kris McIntyre is one of the Biography Service volunteers featured on Compass
Kris McIntyre is a professional writer and one of the Biography Service volunteers featured on Compass.

Director Josh Lee says he did a series of interviews in 2020 to find out more about the ‘dignity/legacy therapy’ approach to palliative care.

“What stood out to me with this program was its ability to use story to empower: to enable the patients to be defined by the actions of their lives, rather than their illness,” he says.
“Director Josh Lee shows us how having your story told can be a vital part of having a good death. A beautiful film, rich with humanity and humour,” says Amanda Collinge, Compass Executive Producer.

The ABC is featuring it on Compass, this coming Sunday at 6.30pm. This follows its debut last night on ABC TV Plus. It will also air again Sunday, May 29 at 11am. But you can also catch it any time you like on ABC iview. Go to:

Watch the trailer about it here.

Since we published our story about the Sacred Heart Biography Service readers have asked if there’s something similar in their communities. So we’ve added a further story sharing information about other biography or legacy writing services.

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