The 'Developing Confident Life Stories' programme explored the impact of bereavement on young people aged 12–18 years, supporting them to construct and represent their bereavement stories through the medium of comics, through a series of creative workshops. Bereavement is a common childhood experience: more than 75% of young people have experienced the death of someone close and this is higher for vulnerable children. Bereavement may have short and long-term impacts on a child's wellbeing, including psychological health and educational achievement. Recent Scottish policy emphasises developing discourse and support around bereavement: yet, a culture of not talking about the issue remains. Comics are an ideal medium for storytelling as the combination of image and text generates creative responses to physical and mental health issues. The process of creating and reading comics helps generate confident life stories: a key component in building resilience.


The programme brought together a multidisciplinary team, and directly involved young people from different backgrounds who have experienced bereavement. Programme’s objectives included:

  • To provide a platform to bring forth the lived experiences of young people who have experienced bereavement to inform what meaningful support and care for bereavement should be.
  • To facilitate knowledge exchange among academics, health and social care professionals, education and third sector practitioners, and policy and decision makers.
  • To consolidate the insights generated through creative engagement across the interactive seminars to identify research, practice and policy priorities.

Programme outputs are designed to support professionals and carers to respond meaningfully and effectively to childhood bereavement, inform national policy on childhood bereavement, and normalise bereavement more broadly.


Image reproduced with generous permission of the author: Shaun Tan. The Red Tree. Lothian, 2001.

Programme Team

Dr Golnar Nabizadeh, University of Dundee

Dr Susan Rasmussen, University of Strathclyde

Professor Christopher Murray, University of Dundee

Professor Divya Jindal-Snape, University of Dundee

Dr Damon Herd, Dundee Comics Creative Space

Phillip Vaughan, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design

Dr Sally Paul, University of Strathclyde

Judith Furnival, Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland (CELCIS)

Nina Vaswani, Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice (CYCJ)

Final Report

The final outputs from the project can be found below. Please contact the team for further information on the programme and any follow-up activities.