5 movies that can help you deal with grief and loss

Young or old, struggling or successful, change happens to us all. Movies are here to remind us that we are not alone – and that even the worst moments pass.

By Janna Joseph

For every real-life story of loss, there’s a movie to show the sufferer that they are not alone. Demonstrating the power of acceptance and the possibility that everything happens for a reason, movies are more than just an escape. When times are tough, they can offer us a chance to find meaning and see the bigger picture, giving us the space we need to grieve gently and maybe even to laugh, just a little.

Everyone has their own list of favourites – and different shows appeal to different people – but here are a few suggestions to get you started. 

  • The Bucket List

(Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman)

If you haven’t watched this one, do it today. Laughter has many proven benefits, from increasing endorphin levels to lowering your blood pressure and boosting the immune system. In other words, this hilarious, meaningful movie will make you feel better and remind you that anything – no matter how bad – can be overcome. Watch the trailer here.

  • Garden State

(Zach Braff, Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard)

In this quirky, heartwarming film, a struggling young actor returns to his hometown of New Jersey to mourn the death of his mother – and face his family’s past. It’s an inspiring, well-crafted journey of love, discovery and self-awareness that truly shouldn’t be missed. Watch the trailer here.

  • The Last Word

(Shirley MacLaine, Amanda Seyfried)

This lighthearted movie is positive proof that change is possible at any age. Seemingly isolated and sick of her life, an overly controlling, retired businesswoman decides to commission her own obituary – while she is still alive. She hires a young writer and thus begins a journey of growth for both women. Watch the trailer here.

  • Intouchables

(Francois Cluzet, Omar Sy)

It doesn’t matter who you are or where you live; grief and loss can happen to anyone. In this wonderful French film, a wealthy, disillusioned quadriplegic hires a completely unqualified but refreshing young man to take care of him. What results is a powerful friendship, and an inspiring story of hope and renewal. Watch the trailer here.

  • The Big C

(Laura Linney, Oliver Platt)

Okay, so this is actually a TV series, but it tackles grief and loss so beautifully that this list wouldn’t be complete without it. A reserved mother and high-school teacher in her 40s gets diagnosed with cancer and discovers a new sense of freedom to explore her own life. Packed with humour and pathos, this is an eye-opening show for anyone who wants to understand the transformational power of trauma. Watch the trailer here.

For the kids

Even children experience grief and loss, and a well-chosen movie can help them to cope. Here are five of our favourites:

  • Finding Nemo

  • Up

  • The Lion King

  • Bambi (1 and 2)

  • Big Hero 6

“For every real-life story of loss, there’s a movie to show the sufferer that they are not alone.”

  • This article first appeared on the Change Exchange, an online platform by BrightRock, provider of the first-ever life insurance that changes as your life changes. The opinions expressed in this piece are the writer’s own and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BrightRock.
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