Your first thought might not be to reach for a movie about grief. However, there is an unlimited amount of films out there that focus on the most intimate parts of death and grief — and believe it or not, some can even be funny. Each storyline offers a unique perspective but they also offer something to people who may be struggling to understand death.
Here is a list of some of the movies that we think are worth watching at some point in your life. Some will make you laugh, others will make you cry — and they’ll all make you think.
There’s nothing quite like a good fiction film! Here are some of the best of the best movies that center on death and grief. There’s something for everyone in this diverse list.
1. Bridge To Terabithia
This coming of age story focuses on the hardships of growing up and losing a friend at a very young age.
2. The Bucket List
The Bucket List is a heartwarming, comedic tale of two strangers who decide to come to terms with the life they’ve lived and the experiences they want to have before they die.
The duo sets out on a trip (against their doctors’ orders) to do all of the things they ever wanted to do before their time is up.
3. The Fault In Our Stars
The Fault In Our Stars examines friendship, love, and terminal disease. The cornerstone of this story is young love and what it means to live life to the fullest.
Two teenagers have cancer and a love for reading in common and it’s only a matter of time until these two things bring them together on an adventure.
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4. P.S. I Love You
P.S. I Love You is the ultimate love story. When a husband succumbs to his illness, he plans ahead for how he will help his wife mourn — and live — after his death.
It’s a touching story that focuses on the importance of moving on and the little things you can do to help ease the pain caused by a love that is lost.
5. My Sister’s Keeper
My Sister’s Keeper is an unorthodox story of a sister conceived to be a kidney donor for her gravely ill sister.
The struggle occurs once the youngest daughter sues her parents for emancipation so she can have medical autonomy for once in her life. The plot centers on family dynamics and unconditional love.
Ghost is a cult classic film that tells the story of love between a man and a woman that’s cut short when the man is murdered.
Due to the circumstances of his death, the man’s spirit is left wandering the earth and he tries desperately to talk to the woman that he loves.
7. The Sixth Sense
The Sixth Sense is about a boy who is visited by ghosts who have unresolved issues.
At times, this movie is downright scary, but the message about the connection between this life and the next is nothing short of fascinating.
8. Dead Man Walking
Dead Man Walking is a different look at death because it focuses on a death row inmate’s struggle with coming to terms with guilt and redemption.
The film not only takes a hard look at forgiveness but also what it means to own up to what you’ve done in this life.
9. Million Dollar Baby
Million Dollar Baby is a story about a woman who is determined to become a professional boxer. She trains endlessly and eventually lands in the ring with the help of a seasoned trainer.
The two form a bond that changes their lives forever. This is a story of determination, grit, and building a friendship in the most unexpected places.
This animated children’s movie, Coco, is actually very focused on death. A young boy is determined to become a musician against his family’s wishes.
He must journey into the Land of the Dead to learn more about his family and his love for music. This touching tale is a great way to start the discussion about death and dying.
11. The Face of Love
The Face of Love is an endearing film about a widowed woman. She finds solace in a relationship with a man who looks just like her deceased husband.
The storyline goes on to explore loss, moving on, and what it means to truly let go of the past.
12. Steel Magnolias
This 1989 film, Steel Magnolias, is a story about a close-knit group of Southern women. They come together to laugh, cry, and roll their eyes when life gets hard.
One of their own passes away due to complications from diabetes and they all come together to prove that love really can see you through the hard times.
13. Things We Lost in the Fire
When a woman’s husband dies, she gets lost in her own grief. This shows a different type of mourning as the woman and her husband’s best friend forge a type of relationship that is both helpful and toxic as they both work to cope through their pain.
Things We Lost in the Fire is the story of how grief can be overwhelming and what it takes to move forward and live life after death.
Hereafter examines the different approaches people take when death hits close to home.
Not only does it take a look at the spiritual journey following the death of a loved one, but it also normalizes how differently we all approach grief and mourning.
15. The Family Stone
The Family Stone is about family dysfunction, declining health, and all that goes with coming together for the holidays. The backdrop to the story is that a man brings home his uptight girlfriend to meet his family, but during the reminiscing, bickering, and laughter, they also come to terms with the fact that the family matriarch is dying.
This story incorporates the real-life struggles that so many of us face when someone we love is close to death.
16. Patch Adams
Patch Adams not only looks at death through an honest lens, but it also discusses how to comfort using unconventional means.
This story is about the human condition and what it means to help other people through difficult times.
17. Stand By Me
Stand By Me ties a morbid fascination with death and the innocence of being young and alive.
It’s a story about a group of boys who set out to see a dead body but find out a lot about themselves and the bond that they have with each other.
18. Death at a Funeral
Death at a Funeral is one of the most relatable films about dealing with family matters as you mourn the loss of a patriarch.
This movie is hilarious, devastatingly sad, but also incredibly introspective about the grieving process, especially from the perspective of an entire family.
Disney does it again with this storyline that begins with death. In Up, An elderly man refuses to let his home be turned into a parking lot because he shared so many wonderful memories there with his deceased wife.
He goes to great lengths to keep his home, but in the end, he learns that it was never about the house — it’s about her memory.
20. My Girl
Young friendship is precious. This coming-of-age story, My Girl, takes a hard look at an innocent friendship between a boy and a girl.
When the young boy dies trying to retrieve a ring for the girl, we see the girl struggle with that loss of friendship as she tries to understand more about what it means to die — and more importantly, what it means to live.
21. Heaven Can Wait
Heaven Can Wait is a comedic look at the afterlife. A man dies in this storyline, but he’s actually supposed to have more time on earth. He comes back to earth as a completely different person.
This tongue-in-cheek look at death is a light-hearted way to explore death and dying.
22. A Matter of Life and Death
A Matter of Live and Death is a fantasy-romance film about a man who was supposed to die but didn’t. Instead, he is caught in limbo between heaven and earth.
He must prove his case in heaven in an attempt to come back to earth. This is a story about second chances and living your life with purpose.
23. Now is Good
Now is Good is a story of a girl who has a terminal illness but decides to fulfill her bucket list before she passes away.
This is a movie that serves as a reminder to all of us that we aren’t promised tomorrow, and that we should live every single day like it may be our last.
24. Charlie St. Cloud
Charlie St. Cloud is a beautiful story about the bond between two brothers. When the youngest brother dies, the oldest boy is given the gift of being able to play catch with his little brother every day at sunset.
However, when he meets an old childhood friend, the oldest brother is forced to decide if he wants to be stuck in the past or finally move on with his life.
25. We Bought a Zoo
We Bought a Zoo is a story about fresh starts. After a man’s wife passes away, he decides to quit his job and move his family to an 18-acre parcel of land.
Mourning comes in many forms, and this storyline shows that sometimes you take drastic measures in order to heal. There’s a lot to learn in this film, but hope and love are at the top of the list.
What’s Your Favorite Movie?
Movies bring people together not only to entertain, but also to encourage discussion. As each of these movies indicates, death and grief can certainly be experienced in so many ways.
These storylines allow you to identify with characters and experiences about death that are relatable, no matter what your experiences about death have been.