Molly Gandour created Peanut Gallery, a documentary that addressed her sister’s death and the silence that ensued. Only recently did Gandour and her parents begin talking about the death. She shares her story with Dr. Heidi Horsley during the 2015 Association for Death Education and Counseling conference.  Her sister died when Gandour was ten, and it wasn’t until she was an adult that the subject was breached. She returned to India to start this conversation.

“It really captures how difficult it is to have these conversations,” says Dr. Horsley. Gandour’s sister had leukemia for as long as she can remember, so it was a long experience of being ill. The documentary explores the family dynamic, and how her sister’s illness played a role. Gandour encourages parents to be willing to listen to their child after losing a sibling. Today, Gandour has gained a lot of compassion for her parents, but as a child she didn’t understand the silence.

Listening Helps

Listening is key, even if parents can’t really take everything in. Dr. Horsley also had a double loss. She lost her brother, but also lost the family that was once there. Often, parents become unavailable after losing a child, which negatively impacts other children in the family. “We’re here if you want to talk about it” is a critical message parents should send.

For Gandour, she was able to find hope largely after doing the film. It allowed her an avenue to re-engage and reinvest in life, as well as rekindle her relationships—with her parents and others. “I’m not sure how to describe it,” she says, since her primary relationship in her family was still with her sister. She has a continuing relationship with her to this day.

Molly Gandour

Molly Gandour produced the Academy Award-nominated HBO doc Gasland. Her upcoming feature-length documentary, Peanut Gallery, is about talking for the first time in depth with her parents about her sister’s death—sixteen years after the fact. It will be released this Summer 2017 by Random Media. She lives in Brooklyn.

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