The 10 Best Movies About Grief
By Camille Moore
December 31, 2021
Confronting Death In Movies
Since death is the only thing in life that is guaranteed, grief is something that everyone can relate to. That said, it’s easy to see why movies about grief have gotten so much attention in Hollywood. Not only do these films entertain us, but they also tap into a feeling that many people are scared to confront. While watching movies about grief can be difficult, it can also be a freeing experience for anyone who knows the pain of dealing with a great loss. Movies about grief are also special because they can be made for any genre. Whether you want to cry until you laugh or laugh until you cry, these movies will do the trick. Keep reading to see our list of the 10 best movies about grief.
Most people would agree that cancer isn’t a laughing matter. However, the 2011 movie 50/50 finds a way to interject comedy into a story that would otherwise be full of sadness and despair. The movie centers around a man named Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who is diagnosed with cancer and given just a 50% chance of survival. Even though the prognosis isn’t great, Adam starts going to therapy and does his best to maintain a positive attitude. Along the way, however, Adam finds himself dealing with lots of challenges including his mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s and the death of a friend.
9. Steel Magnolias
With an all-star cast and an unforgettable story, Steel Magnolias is arguably one of the most memorable movies of the 1980s. The film centers around a group of women who have tight friendships and lean on each other as they navigate the ups and downs of life. Their bonds are put to the test when one of the women’s, Shelby (Julia Roberts), diabetes results in her having a high-risk pregnancy.
8. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
The attacks on September 11, 2001, are easily the most memorable event in recent United States history. The movie Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close touches on the sadness of that day through the fictional story of Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn). Oskar is a young autistic boy whose world is turned upside down when his father is killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center. Oskar does his best to cope with the loss while also trying to keep his father’s memory alive.
Even though Up is a kids’ movie, it still manages to touch on the subjects of death and grief in ways that are meaningful to people of all ages. Up also does a good job of stressing the importance of living life to the fullest. If you haven’t seen Up yet, you’ll want to make sure that you have plenty of tissues ready when you do.
6. Rabbit Hole
The death of a child is one of the most difficult things a person can endure. the 2010 movie Rabbit Hole explores this grief through the lens of a couple who suddenly lost their four-year-old son. Not only is the loss difficult, but they ultimately find themselves at odds because they have very different ideas on how they should move forward.
Not only is Ghost a good movie about the reality of grief, but it’s also about the enduring power of love. When Sam (Patrick Swayze) is double-crossed and killed by a friend, he comes back as a ghost and works with a psychic to save his girlfriend from falling into harm’s way.
4. What Dreams May Come
Although Robin Williams was best known for his comedy roles, his work in What Dreams May Come showed that he could do much more than just make people laugh. In the movie, Williams played a man named Chris who was killed in a car accident. After his death, he enters into a peaceful afterlife that is interrupted when his wife commits suicide and is sent to hell. Although he is warned against trying to save her, he decides to do it anyway.
3. Step Mom
Step Mom is a movie that reminds us all that grief can come in many forms. In the film, Jackie (Susan Sarandon) is grieving the loss of her marriage which makes it difficult for her to accept the fact that her ex-husband has moved on. On top of that, she doesn’t appreciate the fact that her ex-husband’s new fiance, Isabel (Julia Roberts), is a much younger woman. The situation is made even more complex by the fact that Jackie and her ex have children together, and she doesn’t want Isabel around them. However, when Jackie reveals that she is dying of cancer, everyone must come together to do what is best for the children.
2. Terms of Endearment
The bond between a mother and her daughter is one that nothing can compare to. In Terms of Endearment, this relationship is put to the test when Emma (Debra Winger) decides to marry someone against her mother’s wishes. While this initially puts a strain on their relationship, Emma and her husband eventually get divorced. Not long after, Emma learns that she has cancer and doesn’t have much longer to live.
The 1988 film Beaches is a story about the enduring nature of true friendship and the grief that accompanies every great loss. After meeting as friends, Hillary (Barbara Hershey) and CC (Bette Midler) become lifelong friends. Sadly, their relationship comes to a heartbreaking end when Hillary develops an illness and passes away.