Films about Grief and Loss

Watching films about grief can be a great outlet for your emotions.

By KateMitchell · November 24, 2020

After a death it can be hard to process your feelings. Watching someone else go through a similar experience can bring us comfort and allow us to understand the complexity of our emotions. But as watching sad films can trigger our own emotions, it’s important to make sure you’re ready before watching films about loss.

For when you are, we’ve compiled a list of films for both adults and children that deal with themes of grief, death and loss.

Films about Grief and Loss

1. Manchester by the Sea

After the death of his brother, Lee is made the sole guardian of his teenage nephew Patrick.  He then has to confront his past in the fishing village where he grew up, Manchester by the Sea. An academy-award winning film, Manchester by the Sea was celebrated for its portrayal of male grief.

2. The Fault in our Stars

Hazel Grace Lancaster (played by Shailene Woodley), falls in love with Gus Waters, another teen in her cancer support group. The two embark on an adventure to Europe. While this teen romance attracted some criticism for being unrealistic, it has been praised for its empowering portrayal of young people with terminal cancer.

3. Beaches

Although not a film entirely about loss, Beaches is renowned for its iconic portrayal of female friendship through life’s most difficult moments. Hillary and CC ( played by Bette Midler) meet as children on holiday in Atlantic City and CC remains loyal to Hillary even after her untimely death.

4. Marley and Me

Newlyweds John and Jenny Grogan adopt Marley, an adorable Labrador pup who ends up causing a lot of mischief. But while the dog may cause the family a lot of trouble, he is also their most loyal companion through their darkest moments.

Films about the Death of a Parent

1. Other People

Fresh from breaking up with his boyfriend, a struggling comedy writer moves back to his hometown of Sacramento to care for his sick mother. A careful combination of tragedy with moments of light humour, Other People is a relatable and honest portrayal of what it’s like to lose a parent.

2. Big Fish

One of the more abstract films on our list, Big Fish is a moving film which examines the relationship between a son and his father on his deathbed. After a lifetime of listening to his Father’s exaggerated stories, Will embarks on an adventure to find out if any of them were really true.

3. The Rest of Us

After the unexpected death of her ex-husband, a mother and her daughter must contend with living in the same house as his new wife. Although this situation may be unusual, it touches on common disagreements between family members after the death of someone close.

4. The Goldfinch

One of the few films on our list that deals with sudden, traumatic death. Goldfinch is based on the novel by Donna Tartt. After losing his mother in a terrorist bombing, Theo goes through grief and guilt but one piece of artwork, The Goldfinch, becomes a symbol of hope.

Films about the Death of a Partner

1. Truly Madly Deeply

Famed for exploring the conflict between moving on and remembering the person who has died, Truly Madly Deeply tells the story of a bereaved woman whose partner’s ghost magically appears and moves back into her flat. When she falls for another man, she is forced to make a choice between her past and her future.

2. Three Colours: Blue

Released in 1993, Three Colours: Blue tells the story of woman who attempts to isolate herself after the loss of her partner and daughter.

3. Shadowlands

Based on the real life relationship between C.S Lewis and his wife Joy Davidman, the film tells the story of a marriage of convenience that develops into deep love after Joy’s terminal cancer diagnosis.

4. A Fantastic Woman

While many films deal with the death of a partner, very few touch upon this subject from the trans experience. After the sudden death of the man she loves, singer and waitress Marina finds herself facing discrimination at every stage of the grieving process.

Films for helping children understand death and loss

1. Coco

A moving and joyful film based around the Mexican festival Day of the Dead, Coco highlights the importance of remembering relatives who have passed away through customs and traditions.

2. Moana

After the death of her grandmother, a brave teenager sets sail on a mission to save her people. Her grandmother’s spirit, which appears to her as a manta ray, guides her along the way.

3. The Lion King

Like many Disney films, the Lion King is famed for dealing with the death of a parent in childhood. When Simba’s Father is killed after a trick by his wicked uncle, Simba must return to his homeland as an adult to reclaim his throne.


After the death of his wife, Carl embarks on adventure to South America to visit her dream destination. Little does he know he’s carrying a stowaway. Like the films mentioned above, Up highlights the importance of remembering those who have passed away while being open to new friendships.

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