In just 12 minutes, this Oscar-nominated film captures the grief of losing a child to gun violence

'If Anything Happens I Love You' is powerful but painful exploration of parental grief.

Oscar-nominated film captures the grief of losing a child to gun violence
Netflix

The animated short film If Anything Happens I Love You is a raw and powerful depiction of one family's grief at the loss of their child.

It debuted on Netflix in November and is now nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

In just 12 minutes, the film captures the rolling waves of grief that come with the loss of a loved one. It's so powerful, so heartbreaking, so raw—we would be remiss if we didn't warn you: this film will likely make you cry. More than that, it will stay with you long after its 12-minute run time ends.

When If Anything Happens I Love You begins, a married couple sits quietly in their grief, though angry shadows fight wordlessly above them with all the emotions the couple isn't expressing in real-life. Viewers can tell the husband and wife have experienced something traumatic—but they're not sure what.


If anything happens i love you Official trailer (HD) Movie (2020) www.youtube.com

Their loss is revealed through flashbacks. Viewers watch their young daughter's life unfold, captured in big moments: her birth, family vacations, soccer practice, her first kiss. When their daughter heads off to school one morning, the parents cheerfully wave goodbye. Their shadows, knowing what's to come, try desperately to stop her from entering the building. Of course, they fail and the beloved daughter walks into school, never to walk out.

There's no outright violence shown in the film. Instead, as gunshots ring out behind closed school doors, the daughter's phone is shown texting her parents. Over the sound of sirens, we see her final message: "If anything happens I love you," she writes.

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It's an incredibly powerful film about love, loss, grief, and gun violence. In 12 minutes, the film conveys the deep love the parents have for their child and how unmoored they feel when she's taken from them. Though they both lost their daughter, they grieve differently and often, separately.

In a January interview with Deadline, the film's directors explained how they were able to pack so much authenticity and emotion into the short film.

"We met with a lot of parents who've lost kids to gun violence," said director Will McCormack. "And we had [a proverb we found] tacked to the top of our corkboard, which is, 'When your parents die, you bury them in the ground. But when your child dies, you bury them in your heart.' And it was something that was like a North Star," he explained.

"We really wanted to be able to tell this story, to pay tribute to these parents who have lost kids, and [have them] know that their stories matter, and their lives matter."

We hope that your family never knows the unimaginable loss depicted within If Anything Happens I Love You. But if you have, we hope McCormack's message resonates with you. Your family's story matters. Your child's life matters.

If you'd like to learn more about organizations dedicated to ending gun violence in America, please visit Moms Demand Action and Everytown. To find information about grief and support services, please visit Our House Grief Center.

Jamie Orsini is an Emmy Award-winning journalist, military spouse, and a mom to two busy toddlers. In her spare time, Jamie volunteers with the Solar System Ambassador program with NASA/JPL and reads anything she can get her hands on. She’s currently working on her first novel.

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