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Great Films That Address Grief and Loss February 12, 2021

Angel Sculpture in cemetery

Loss and grief is a part of life so it is no wonder it has been the subject of so many films. Here are just a few films that address the death of a loved one and the messages we can take from it.

Up – 2009

This animated Disney/Pixar release tells the story of elderly widower Carl Fredricksen (voiced by Ed Asner) and a well-meaning scout by the name of Russel, who is trying to earn badges by performing good deeds. After losing his life-long love, the retired balloon salesman sets on a journey to fulfill a promise to himself and his late wife by tying thousands of helium balloon to his house and setting sail to fly to South America. Unknown to Fredricksen, at least initially, he is accompanied by Russel. It is a heartwarming tale of love and the adventures and new relationships that can still be had following the death of a loved one.

The Babadook – 2014

This Australian horror film tells the story of Ameilia Vanek, a widower who has brought up her six year old son on her own, after her husband dies in a car crash while taking her to the hospital while in labor with him. The Babadook begins terrorizing both her son and her until it is ultimately defeated in the film. Experts believe the Babadook represents grief and denial in the movie, and how if allowed to perpetuate, They can wreak havoc for those left behind. Not exactly a “pick-me-upper” but the film provides an interesting perspective of the battle against grief.

Bridge to Terabithia – 2007

Released in the United States by Disney Films, this is the tale of bullied kids who invent a fantasy world called Terabithia in an abandoned tree house. This imaginary world contains a variety of creatures representing various obstacles in the real life, including their bullies. This world becomes more real and ultimately the kids become rulers in it. The film has been described as a “good kids film” in which the power of imagination is demonstrated. An award winning “escape” film.

Things We Lost in the Fire – 2007

This drama stars Halle Berry, Benicio del Toro and David Duchovny. It is a complex tale of relationships, death, drug addiction and the changing roles we may play following the loss of someone close. The movie encourages us to “Accept the good” in others, even when we may struggle with some aspects of their lives or personalities.

P.S. I Love You – 2007

This romantic drama has an all-star cast that includes Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler, Isa Kudrow, Harry Connick Jr. and others. The plot is based on a couple who, like many, have their fights but are deeply in love. After the husband passes away from a brain tumor, she struggles to continue on, remembering how petty some of their fights now seem. Her family intervenes as her depression worsens. A cake is delivered to her, apparently from her deceased husband who had arranged for the deliveries prior to his death. Each delivery contains a note ending with “P.S. I Love You”. The movie reminds us how difficult dealing with loss can be and the important roles those who care about us can play after a death.

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