Movies can be a great outlet for grief. They help us better understand the complex emotions we might be feeling. They also can serve as a brief moment of escape from the day-to-day responsibilities of the real world. Movies also can inspire us, offer us messages of hope, and comfort us when we need it most. Below is our list of the best movies about grief and loss for any type of situation.
Drama Grief Movies
My Favorite: There are a lot of great movies in the drama genre that explore the many facets of grief. So this wasn’t an easy pick. But Ordinary People — directed by Robert Redford and starring Donald Sutherland and Mary Tyler Moore — is a powerful classic. The film explores many themes, but the predominant focus is the impact of grief on the family dynamic. After losing their son in an accident, a father, mother, and younger son struggle to live with their guilt and grief.
Other great dramas:
- Manchester by the Sea
- Sunshine Cleaning
- Collateral Beauty
- Charlie St. Cloud
- The Five People You Meet in Heaven
- Tuesdays With Morrie
- P.S. I Love You
- Taking Chance
Comedy Grief Movies
My Favorite: This was a hard one, so I picked two. And it really boils down to the type of grief you are experiencing. Big Fish is a great film, directed by Tim Burton and starring Ewan McGregor. It explores a somewhat strained father-son relationship. Edward, the father, is terminally ill. His estranged son, Will, tries to finally understand and learn the truth about his father and his tall tales.
And for the second one, Marley and Me is a perfect movie when experiencing the loss of a pet. A word of warning though — the movie is an emotional roller coaster. But the movie does help us better understand the deep relationship we have with our pets, and how they are truly part of our family.
Family Films about Grief
My Favorite: Over the years, there’ve been several discussions about how effective movies are at helping children understand grief and their emotions better. There’s also a long list of family-friendly movies that help explore grief, so really you can’t go wrong in choosing. But in recent years, Coco stands out as a great example, and is my personal favorite.
The movie explores both death and our connections to the past. At the 2018 ICCFA convention, Gail Rubin gave a talk about lessons on grief and mourning in cartoons. In her talk, she explained how Coco can highlight the importance of family history, and the rituals we use to remember and memorialize the ones we love.
Some other great family-friendly movies about grief:
For some other movie suggestions, we looked to Reddit. On a thread titled Movies to Watch While Grieving, users shared their favorite films.
Here were a few of their suggestions:
- “I lost my wife unexpectedly 5 years ago. Strangely, Shawshank Redemption became my white noise (what I had on all the time in the house). Something about the two men finding friendship in such a terrible place made me feel better.”
- “A Single Man (streaming on Netflix) surprisingly made me feel better. It’s about a man who loses his partner in a car accident, and how he copes with the loss.”
- “Nothing was helping until the comedy “Airplane” came on. That goofy film made me laugh out loud and helped me a lot that night.”
- “Departures (Okuribito). Funny and bittersweet story of a man who moves back to his hometown and unintentionally becomes a traditional Japanese undertaker. A really great movie that more people should see; says a lot about death and how we deal with the ceremonies surrounding it.”
- “The Doctor (1991) is a film that explores mortality and grief. William Hurt is a doctor who suddenly finds himself a patient, after being diagnosed with cancer. I always find it cathartic to watch.”
Have you seen any of the movies on our list? What did you think? Share with us in the comments below!