Death is inevitable — but even though we acknowledge this, the loss of a loved one is still a bitter pill to swallow. Losing a loved one before their time — such as in A Monster Calls — makes this tragic situation even harder to bear.
This kind of scenario is even harder to explain for children or adolescents, because it's harder for them to control their emotions and come to terms with this loss.#AMonsterCalls deals with the story of Conor, a young man struggling to cope with his mother's imminent death. It takes a monster in yew-tree form & 3 stories for Conor to understand the complexity of his situation, and come to terms with what's happening. The movie showed us how a kid carrying this kind of burden in his heart struggles with everyday life, while also struggling with a 'truth' he never wanted anyone to know. However, it did show us that surrounding ourselves with the right people — and having an outlet for all these pent-up emotions — can be therapeutic.
Below are other films that deal with grief and loss from a youngster's perspective. They are all absolute tear-fests, but are a definitely good way to broach touchy subjects with younger viewers.
1. Bridge To Terabithia
- Director: Gábor Csupó
- Release date: February 16, 2007
- Starring: AnnaSophia Robb, Josh Hutcherson, Zooey Deschanel
Similar to A Monster Calls, Bridge to Terabithia uses childrens' imaginations to introduce us to the whimsical world of Terabithia. Two strangers form a strong bond of friendship through their thirst for adventure. Their friendship comes to an abrupt end, and makes us question why the good die young. However, the film hammers home how much light the ill-fated Leslie (Robb) brought into the lives of those around her — particularly Jesse (played expertly by Josh Hutcherson).
2. The Fall
- Director: Tarsem Singh
- Release date: October 5, 2007
- Starring: Lee Pace, Catinca Untaru
The Fall also uses epic stories to move its narrative forward; Stuntman Roy (Pace) befriends a girl (Untaru) who broke her arm by telling her an epic tale. His ulterior motive was just to use her to fetch tools he could use to end his own life. The movie deals with loss, but not with death; more like the loss of one's sense of direction. Roy thought he lost everything — but as the film unravels, he finds he has more than he thought. Both Roy's story and his real life prove that sometimes, we need someone else to lend a hand and help us change things for the better.
- Director: Jacques Doillon
- Release date: September 25, 1996
- Starring: Victoire Thivisol, Xavier Beauvois
A four-year-old girl has to confront the loss of her mother who died in a car accident. The very same accident leaves the girl with a broke arm — but, mercifully, alive. It is difficult to watch her praying and hoping that her mother would come back to life. However, the young girl eventually comes to terms with her mother's death, as she realizes that she has to move on and live a good life; leading a happy and fulfilling life is what her mother would have wanted.
- Director: Martin Scorsese
- Release date: November 23, 2011
- Starring: Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz
Hugo is perhaps the least tear-jerking movie on this list; however, it deals with themes that are quite difficult to broach with younger audiences. Hugo was orphaned, forced to work just so he wouldn't be sent to an orphanage, and the war didn't really help with all of that. The lesson that the movie left me with, however, was to keep moving forward. We shouldn't always wallow in the past, because we can't do anything about it. But we can work towards a progressive future — and adventures and stories that we haven't even started!
2016 has already been a hell of a year, and a year in which many have experienced a loss of some sort. For parents and children, movies are one of the gateways to opening up difficult and touchy topics. These films deal with grief and loss, but they do so by using extraordinary stories of adventure and fantasy, and how the heroes eventually overcome their grief by drawing strength from their friends or loved ones. Watching a tear-jerking kid's film is sometimes necessary to expose children to the challenges in life, like love and loss, and sitting through a movie with these subjects will make it somewhat easier for children to understand a worst-case scenario before experiencing loss themselves.
If we ever learn anything from movies, it's that life still goes on, even after the credits the roll.
'A Monster Calls' will walk in theaters December 23, 2016.