Our top flick picks: 12 best movies about loss and death
Movies can be a light-hearted way to process and unpack heavy feelings that you didn’t even know were simmering under the surface. Similar to how any other art form can take us to a place of reflection – like music, photography, or paintings do – films can help us express emotions that may be hard to face otherwise.
Watching a movie with a loved one is sometimes an easier way to reflect or share your grief than finding the words to tell someone how you feel.
So, we’ve pulled together a list of our favourite movies about the end of life that made us laugh or cry – sometimes both at the same time! Get the popcorn and tissues ready as we present Bare’s top 12 flick picks about loss and death positivity.
1. “I don’t want to spoil anything, but the movie What We Did on Our Holiday is a funny, tender, heartfelt and deeply human story about end of life and the family life and drama that still goes on as someone passes. I have re-watched it several times and it always makes me laugh and cry at the same time.” – Beth
2. “We can’t talk about inspirational tear-jerkers without mentioning The Notebook. The film cuts between the same couple at two crossroads in their lives – in their youth, then as seniors with Alzheimer’s. It’s absolutely heart-wrenching. I can’t think of another movie that made me cry like a baby as much as that movie did!” – Mel
3. “The Bucket List is a classic for me. Two terminally ill men left with only six months to live decide to explore life and make a bucket list comprising all the things they have never tried before.” – Sean
4. “You can hardly go wrong with a classic British comedy. And Four Weddings and a Funeral completely stands the test of time.” – Cale
5. “We Bought a Zoo is brilliant. It tells the story of a widowed father (played by Matt Damon) who purchases a dilapidated zoo with his family and takes on the challenge of preparing the zoo for its reopening to the public. It won’t work for everyone, but it shows that finding a new purpose, or a reason to get up, can help channel grief into something that has a positive impact on the world.” – Sam
6. “Another really poignant movie I enjoyed was My Sister’s Keeper, based on the Jodi Picoult novel, about a teenage girl’s battle with leukaemia. It’s not only about the family’s struggle to cope with a child’s cancer fight, but also the turmoil as the parents pressure their other daughter into being a donor in a desperate bid to help keep her sister alive. It’s incredibly moving and thought-provoking.” – Mel
7. “I love The Big Chill – an 80s classic (with amazingly cool stars), about a group of friends that come back together after a member of their circle has passed away. It’s a great exploration of the grieving process and all the complexities of it.” – Venessa
8. “One of my all-time favourite movies is What Dreams May Come. It is a movie about a man who dies and it follows his journey throughout the afterlife. Along the way, he sees the struggles his wife goes through without him there. It touches on some very dark moments, although, all in all, it is a very beautiful story about love and death. My family and I found solace in this film after the passing of our brother, so it also holds sentimental value for me.” – Bec
9. “I love the Japanese film Departures. It’s beautifully filmed and speaks to the art of being an undertaker. Brilliantly cathartic and thought-provoking.” – Claire
10. “While we’re on the subject of undertakers, I remember watching My Girl for the first time as a child, around the same age Macaulay Culkin would have been making the film in 1991. It’s set in a funeral home, but it sadder for so much more than just being about a funeral. It would have been the first time a movie made me feel so many emotions.” – Mel
11. “The Pixar film UP is an amazing animated movie that deals with death, grief and loss in a beautiful, sensitive way that’s really accessible for younger or more inexperienced people.” – Venessa
12. “Another movie that I love is This is Where I Leave You. It’s about a family who comes together in the wake of a loss, as they go through the mourning ritual of sitting shiva and must stay together for a week in spite of their differences. It’s emotionally touching and laugh-out-loud funny in all the right ways. It’s also very interesting for anyone who would like to learn more about sitting shiva, as it is the backdrop to the story.” – Beth
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