Inspiring films about grief and loss

Posted: 08/08/2018

Many of us like to watch films that we can relate to, and what is a more relatable, universal experience than coping with grief and loss? Movies about these topics can help people to better deal with their own experiences and to cope with their emotions regarding bereavement. It can also help people to see grief and loss from a new perspective entirely, or it can also help those who have yet to experience grief better understand what makes it different to any other kind of pain, or help them better understand how to deal with funeral plans. But which films are worth watching that touch this topic? We take a look at some of the most inspiring films about grief and loss from the big screen.



Up tells the story of the widower who ends up going on a journey of profound discovery after the death of his wife.

Released in 2009, this animation by Pixar is widely perceived as one of the most heartbreaking children films in recent history. Many people find themselves in tears watching the opening of the film, where we see the loss and grief experienced by husband Carl over losing his much-loved wife Ellie. However, Up is by its very nature uplifting, as we see Carl and boy scout Russel go on a journey of discovery and adventure, helping the old man to realise he can still honour his wife’s memory whilst enjoying what remains of his life.

PS I Love You

PS I Love You was released in 2008 and tells the story of Holly (played by Hilary Swank) who is a widow who is having difficulties being able to cope having lost her husband Gerry (played by Gerard Butler) very suddenly. However, she is unaware that in his final days Gerry had left her a  number of letters, delivered to her after he had passed away, in order to help Holly deal with her bereavement. Thematically, the film tackles the pressure so many people face after the death of a loved one to move on, as well as showing that you can still find new meaning in life without forgetting the people who have left your life.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

This film released in 2011 is based on the novel of the same name by Jonathan Safran Foer, and it is about Oskar, who loses his father in the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. The boy becomes obsessive about a key that he ends up finding in his dad’s possession, and embarks on a hunt across New York in order to find out what it ends up unlocking. The film deals with the issue overwhelmingly of the senselessness of loss.

Bridge to Terabithia

At first glance, it is easy to mistake this children’s fantasy film as a bit of lighthearted fun, but in actual fact, it is a story about dealing with childhood grief, with an incredibly heartbreaking plot twist. At the end, the characters discover that there isn’t just one way in order to honour the memory of those who have passed away in their lives.

Three Colours: Blue

This film forms part of a trilogy of French dramas and tells the story of Julie, a widow who was married to a famous composer, and who is struggling with the agony of not only losing her husband but also her daughter in a fatal car crash.

The way in which she deals with it is removing herself from her former life entirely by deciding to jump ship and go to Paris, distancing herself from her friends and family, as well as destroying the work of her husband that was left unfinished. In the end, though, the grief catches up with her, and she learns that she must face her pain head-on, learning to understand that it can not be ignored or erased entirely.

Things We Lost in The Fire

The film which stars Benicio del Toro as Jerry, a man recovering from heroin addiction and who was the best friend of Audrey’s  (played by Halle Berry) dead husband, is a tale of two peoples changed dramatically and irrevocably by bereavement. Berry plays a completely devastated widow who allows Jerry, a recovering addict, to move in with her as well as the two children she had with her husband.

The Fault In Our Stars


The Fault in Our Stars is known as being a modern tearjerker.

The 2014 film is a romantic tragedy with leading turns by Ansel Elgort and Shailene Woodley. Woodley plays sixteen-year-old Hazel, who is suffering from cancer and ends up being forced to attend a support group by her parents. At this group, she ends up meeting Augustus (played by Elgort) who is also another cancer patient and the two end up falling madly in love.