FamousGrey provides a new and powerful memory for parents of stillborn babies: the Shortest Lives project

FamousGrey has created ‘Shortest Lives’ together with non-profit organization Berrefonds and the University Hospital of Ghent. It's a new way to offer comfort to parents of stillborn babies, who often find it very difficult and lonely to grieve the loss.

It's an audiovisual reproduction of their babies' heartbeat. I love the actual look of this, as it looks like a bit of life in outer space. I remember when my daughter was lifted up to be I made eye contact with her saucer-sized pupils, and I thought I saw entire galaxies in her eyes. Universes of potential and possibilities. So the visual execution here hits home, hard.

And hard it is. Hearing a baby’s heartbeat for the first time is a transformative moment. It's all suddenly so real. FamousGrey reasons: "...for parents who tragically lose their unborn baby, the sound of the heartbeat can remain a vague memory. For many parents, this makes the profound loss even more difficult."

“Shortest Lives provides remembrance in a different way. We often talk about visible and tangible things, but a heartbeat, it’s a sound, you can hear the activity. It’s something which expresses more life than a picture ever could.”

-Dr. E. Roets - Head of the Obstetrics Department at the University Hospital of Ghent

Parents can submit an application online on www.shortestlives.com. You can also learn more about the project through the ‘Koesterkoffer’ of Berrefonds. A Koesterkoffer is a suitcase containing all sorts of carefully chosen items that support parents in saying goodbye in a beautiful way. This is an established feature in all Flemish hospitals.

Below is a case study of sorts that was only released in French and Flemish, so I'll translate what is said to the best of my ability:

"Hearing the heartbeat for the first time, that was, well yes... Only then do you actually realize that you are getting older, right?"

We also immediately said, "If it's a girl it's this name, and if it's a boy it's that name.
That baby is already there, if it is in your belly, it is already there."

"My pregnancy went fine. I was still going to the movies with friends in the evenings."

"A heartbeat is something powerful and it effectively confirms that there is life"

These couples then share their moment of loss.

"The silence was really deafening. And then the fact that nobody in that room said it back then, that was, yeah, that was really absurd."

They are then shown their babies' heartbeats, and I swear, I have no idea how they keep it together so well. I'd be a bawling puddle. That would be a very tangible way to grieve properly, to realize it wasn't just a terrible nightmare. That baby was actually there for a moment. And it is ok to grieve them.

Using the ultrasound taken at the hospital, Famousgrey could create the heartbeat sound from stillborn babies' medical records. Every heartbeat was visualized by using the unique data points linked to the baby and the pregnancy.

The heartbeat films that the parents watch in the case study above end on a note, about the baby. "Lily, 25 weeks I lived happily in mother's belly, you live on in our thoughts. That's how you stay with us, mom and dad, in our being."

Any parents that have been to the University Hospital of Ghent for an ultrasound can submit an application for Shortest Lives. FamousGrey are now looking to involve other hospitals in order to expand this project and help as many parents as they can.

a universe of potential.

Client: Berrefonds vzw (together with Universitair Ziekenhuis Gent)
​Contact Berrefonds: Christine Vandenhole, Liesbeth Talboom

Contact UZ Gent: Brecht Vande Kerckhove, Yves Vander Haeghen, dr. Ellen Roets, Anne Huygevelt, Dieneke van Gerrewey, Karlien Wouters

Agency: FamousGrey
​Creative Director: Peter Ampe, Laurie Lacourt
​Creative team: An-Sofie Keulen, Steve Maes
​Account Director: Jef Leysen,
​Account Executive: Silke Galle

Strategic planner: Yarne de Schrijver
​Creative planner: Kirsten Vanderbeke

Motion design: Sacha Lempereur

Design: Uncle Grey

Designers: Christian Rahn,

COO: Charlotte Porsager

Strategic Director: Lars Samuelsen

Developer: Arno Vanbiesen

Experience Director: Maarten Breda

RTV Producer: Myriam Maes
​DOP: Gilles Desplanque
​Offline editor: Sven Vanhee

Sound: Mathieu Savenay

Post-production: FamousGrey Productions
​Editor: Sven Vanhee, Gilles Desplanque

PR agency: Famous Relations
​PR contact: Astrid Jacobs, Zoë Cnaepkens, Eva van Riet

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