Some people find it hard to enjoy movies or other forms of entertainment that hit too close to home. For that reason, it’s common for some viewers to look for trigger warnings before consuming some type of media.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Modern Movies About Losing a Spouse or Partner
- Older Movies About Losing a Spouse or Partner
- Documentaries About Losing a Spouse or Partner
If you recently lost a spouse, you may want to avoid movies about this life event. But, on the other hand, some people receive comfort when they encounter characters who are going through similar hardships.
Please understand that you should be prepared for SPOILER ALERTS when you scan this article. With some of these movies, you’ll discover the death of a major character within the opening scene. Other deaths may take you by surprise. If you are worried about having your movie night ruined with a spoiler, select a different article on our blog to read.
Whether your goal is to avoid or find movies about losing a spouse, we have you covered. Here are some to consider.
Modern Movies About Losing a Spouse or Partner
Do you feel the need for a good cry? Here are some movies about death that will get those waterworks going.
Conversely, if you feel too emotionally raw to handle a movie about death, here are movies to avoid.
Someone needs to start a TikTok challenge that dares viewers to watch the first 15 minutes of the animated movie Up without crying. This beautiful movie accomplishes more in 15 minutes without words than most movies do in 120 minutes.
2. The Time Traveler’s Wife
Who doesn’t like romantic movies about time travel? Even though the novel by the same name is much better than the movie, you will surely break into ugly sobs when watching The Time Traveler's Wife.
We know this movie is far from “new,” and it might realistically belong in the following category. However, we think the pottery scene has aged well.
Whether Ghost is modern or old, it tells the story about the violent death of a man (played by Patrick Swayze) and the grief that follows.
4. P.S. I Love You
The main character, Holly, loses her perfect partner when he dies after suffering from an extended illness. However, he leaves behind messages that guide her through her grief. The movie stars Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler.
5. Sleepless in Seattle
The beginning of Sleepless in Seattle shows a man and his son living in Seattle. They relocated to the West Coast from Chicago after losing their wife and mother after an extended illness.
This movie about grief and new beginnings has always been a crowd favorite. After all, who doesn’t love Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan? However, this may be hard to watch if you recently lost your partner.
6. Sorry for Your Loss
Technically, Sorry for Your Loss is a TV series. However, this show, starring Elizabeth Olsen (the younger sister of the Olsen twins), chronicles the grief of a young woman who learns a lot about her husband after his death. Stream it on Facebook.
7. This Is Where I Leave You
While most of the movies on our list depict characters who are heartbroken over their loss, This Is Where I Leave You shows the complexities of the familial relationships that sometimes make grief complicated. The movie stars Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, and Jane Fonda.
8. A Star Is Born
Of course, there have been several versions of A Star Is Born. But, regardless of whether you prefer Lady Gaga or Barbra Steisand, this movie that shows the effects of addiction is so timeless that we could probably expect another version to be made 20 years from now.
9. A Man Called Ove
In this article, we should have another category called “movies about losing a spouse that you should skip and instead read the book.” A Man Called Ove is a beautifully written account of a gruff older man who is lost after the passing of his wife. The movie is okay, but we recommend the book highly.
The theme of this book/movie is finding a purpose after losing a spouse. Please note that the story starts on a very dark note.
10. The Face of Love
Annette Bening and Ed Harris star in The Face of Love, a movie about a widow who seeks solace from another man who looks just like her deceased husband.
11. Death at a Funeral
What would happen if you uncovered something scandalous about your father after his death? Would you tell your mother or pay blackmail money to keep it a secret? This is the plot of Death at a Funeral. There were two versions made of this comedy.
12. After Life
Fans of Ricky Gervais may enjoy this show about a man whose personality changes after losing his wife. Please note that this is a show, not a movie, and can be found on Netflix.
13. We Bought a Zoo
The loss of a partner and mother is examined in We Bought a Zoo. In this movie, a man buys a large house with a zoo after he suddenly loses his wife. Even though he hopes to become closer to his children, the man and his son struggle with their relationship.
14. The Descendants
The Descendants has a similar theme to the previous movie on our list. In this story, a man (George Clooney) struggles with raising his daughters while at the same time deciding whether to end his wife’s life support.
15. The Art of Racing in the Rain
The synopsis for this movie states, “Through his bond with his owner, aspiring Formula One race car driver Denny, golden retriever Enzo learns that the techniques needed on the racetrack can also be used to successfully navigate the journey of life.” One of the “journeys” the race car driver experiences is the death of his wife to brain cancer.
16. The Sixth Sense
No one saw the twist coming the first time they watched The Sixth Sense. Ultimately, this movie is about the death of a spouse.
17. Three Colours: Blue
This obscure selection is part of a trilogy of French dramas. In this story, the wife of a famous composer copes with the death of her husband and daughter.
This film shows the destruction and distancing that often follows a tragic event.
18. Things We Lost in the Fire
In Things We Lost in the Fire, Halle Berry is a grieving widow when her husband’s best friend moves in with her and her two children. The man, played by Benicio del Toro, is recovering from heroin addiction.
19. The Harry Potter Series
At its essence, the entire Harry Potter series is about the death of loved ones. Several characters leave partners behind in this series.
Older Movies About Losing a Spouse or Partner
Sometimes people think they are being kind when they spend time with a person who recently lost a loved one. But, unfortunately, your best intentions may backfire if you plan a movie night and inadvertently choose a film about death and loss.
Here are some older movies that might trigger an emotional response from your friend.
20. The Absentee
From 1952, this movie is classified as mystery/drama. It tells the story of a man who lost his wife in a car crash. He decides to investigate the death to determine if foul play was involved.
21. Truly, Madly, Deeply
We guess a movie from 1991 could qualify as an “older movie.” In this film, a young woman (Juliet Stevenson) grieves the sudden death of her boyfriend (Alan Rickman). When the boyfriend shows up as a ghost, the woman has to decide whether to dedicate her time to her ghost boyfriend or go on with life.
22. The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
This classic film from 1947 follows a widow who moves into a house by the sea to escape her meddling in-laws. She forms a relationship with a ghost, who is played by Rex Harrison.
Documentaries About Losing a Spouse or Partner
So far, all of the movies on our list have been fictionalized accounts of loss. If you want to view the real-life heartbreak that comes from losing a spouse or partner, consider one of these documentaries about death.
23. End of Life
End of Life is described as a “beautiful and uplifting film.” However, please be advised that this documentary shows the last years of life for five different people. You’ll see the patients’ homes and hospital rooms in this very real account of the end of life.
24. Passing On
This film is described to be “conversations about death and dying.” This documentary explores how people approach end-of-life issues based on their beliefs and culture. The documentary addresses the idea of death being the “great equalizer.”
Select a Movie With Care
Whether you want to avoid movies about the death of a spouse or partner or wish to watch characters who are struggling with the same issues is up to you. However, if you are selecting the movie for someone who recently lost a spouse, you might take care when picking the flick.