Children’s Films Which Help to Explain Death and Grief

Posted: 30/01/2018

Disney Pixar’s new film Coco has created a lot of discussion and since January 2018, it has dominated the UK box office – already winning a Golden Globe award. This animated movie has a comforting and hopeful outlook on death, which inspired this guide as it got us thinking, what other children’s films do this?

It is appreciated that it can be extremely daunting to introduce the concept of death and even harder to explain the feelings they may feel when they experience grief. One way of teaching your children about death and grief is through films like Coco. Movies are visual in nature, which is very easily consumed by children.

These are five of the best films which you could stick on for your child to effectively teach them about death and the mourning process.


First, let’s start with the newest film out there. Coco is set during the Dia de Mertos (The Day of the Dead) festival, a Mexican holiday which focuses on family gatherings praying and remembering their loved ones who have passed away. In the film, the main character who is a 12-year old bot leaves his hometown in order to find the Land of the Dead.

Not only is the animation associated with loss, but also happy memories about people who have passed and celebrating their lives. The film is very easy for children to digest and encourages the audience to love and appreciate their family, even after death.


Another film from Disney Pixar, Up opens up with a scene which tells a story of an elderly man named Carl and his wife named Ellie who met as children, fell in love and got married later on. The audience learn that his wife has died through a moving sketch highlighting his unconditional love for her and how the loss has affected him.

The rest of the plot follows an unexpected adventure featuring a young, loving boy named Russell. Despite the adventure aspect, Car’s grief remains a key theme throughout the story line. Thanks to the young boy, Russell, Carl learns to accept the loss of his wife through honouring her memory. He learns that his loss no longer has to stop him from going on the adventures that life throws at him.

The Lion King

The Lion King is the infamous film about a lion cub, Simba, living in the African Pride Lands after the death of his much-loved father. Simba is now tasked with piecing his life back together following this tragedy.

Initially, Simba takes himself off a journey and escapes reality, avoiding all responsibility. During his time, he is confronted with the memories of his past and realises he must return to his community to face the reality of his loss.


An old pick, Bambi was released in 1942 and was one of the first films to introduce the reality of death to a child audience. The story is about a young deer that lives in the woods, trying to battle and come to terms with the grief he feels following the death of his mother.

As the plot continues, Bambi makes friends which help him to overcome his grief. Later on, Bambi becomes a father, highlighting the beauty of the circle of life. The film is heart-warming and explains to children that love, friendship and support can help you overcome a loss in your lifetime.

Charlotte’s Web

This film follows the life of Wilbur, a little piglet, and Charlotte, who is a spider. Their unlikely, but touching friendship starts when Charlotte is able to save Wilbur from the slaughter house by using her ability to weave words into her web such as: “Some Pig” and “Radiant”.

Unfortunately, this friendship is cut short when Charlotte dies when Wilbur is only young still. Charlotte entrusts Wilbur to look after her nest of precious eggs, which he guards with his life. This film explores the circle of life, friendship and the theme of honouring a person’s wishes after death.

Children’s grief

The grief felt by a child is especially complex since it is most probably a very new experience for them. If you find yourself responsible for telling a child about the death of someone close to them, we have some tips that can help you, simply click here to learn more.

If you find yourself needing some further information, check out Child Bereavement UK, they are experts in helping children deal with all the feelings associated with the death of a loved one.