The 6 best movies about death to begin the conversation

As a therapist sometimes using a common reference was helpful in talking to a child about difficult topics. Movies can provide a way to begin the conversation.

Here are 6 movies to help you talk to your child about death and why I recommend them.

Finding Nemo (G)

Death happens early in this film. What is particularly interesting is that death happens to a parent of child before the child is aware or can fully understand. The trauma of the death is felt by Nemo’s father but Nemo seems oblivious to the loss. This dynamic can begin a conversation about how death affects people differently because of what they know about the person. It’s also a great story to discuss why some parents may behave in ways that seem over protective or extremely guarded

The message: people react to death differently and sometimes it’s hard for them to cope, even years later.

Finding Neverland (PG13)

The idea that Peter Pan, the boy who lives forever, has backstory origins that include death is interesting on its own. This movie is particularly interesting for people who are working through the difficulties of family relationships while death is at the door. The movie suggests that death is an introduction into a new world which provides parents an opportunity to discuss beliefs about the afterlife.

The message: open discussion about what happens after death to the deceased and those left behind.

Up (PG)

This amazing movie provides a lifetime within the first few minutes of the film including the death of a loved one. The brilliant portrayal of a life full of triumphs and defeat are shown and accompanied only by music. What is most amazing about this film is even though Elle dies, her presence is felt throughout the film. It is her ‘joie de vivre’ that is the impetus for Carl to live the remainder of his life to the fullest.

The message: people may pass away but their influence remains.

Marley and Me (PG)

While this movie focuses on the love a family has for their dog it can provide some powerful dialogue. Sometimes talking to children about people dying is a lot harder than talking to them about animals dying. This movie is more about enjoying every moment and letting go when the time comes.

The message: Focusing on positive memories can help us understand why we feel so sad when death occurs.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (PG13)

This movie centers around a boy who suffers loss when his father is killed during the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. The boy also has a mild form of autism. He begins a quest to find something he believes his father left behind for him. In his search he meets new people and learns to overcome previous fears.

The message: death is difficult and can help someone become more resilient to things they were scared of doing before.

Big Fish (PG13)

This fantastical tale of a father and son can be both entertaining and educational. Nearing death a father and son explore their lives and separate what is fact and fiction. The stories by the father are so outrageous the son does not believe them and the tension between them escalates until they can find resolution.

The message: People in life are not perfect. They make mistakes. Learn to work through it and accept them as they are.

Death can be a difficult thing to discuss with children. Taking time to evaluate what your child can understand and what happened is something parents should consider carefully. Use Effective Communication to help you know how to approach death and other difficult subjects with your child.

Did I miss any movies that you would recommend? If so, let me know.

Siope Kinikini

I’m a dad. I enjoy being a dad. I like things to do things that are challenging as well. I’m especially fond of mint-chocolate chip ice cream.

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