Movies to Help Kids Deal with Grief
Death can be especially difficult on young children, since they do not always understand the long-term implications of loss or have good coping skills for their grief. Counseling can help, as well as a good support network at home, but it might also be worthwhile to look into movies you can rent and watch at home.
- Lion King (G): There are several Disney movies that do not shy away from the death of a parent. Bambi and Lion King are both great options because the death is an animal instead of a human (making it easier on kids who have recently experienced their own loss).
- Finding Nemo (G): Like Lion King, the story of Finding Nemo begins when Nemo loses his mother and siblings, leaving him to carve his own path with his remaining parent.
- Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (PG): This movie is based on a book series in which three children lose their parents. Although their perils include escaping an evil villain who wants to steal their fortune, the kids also have to regularly deal with their loss.
- Harry Potter (PG): The Harry Potter franchise revolves around magic, friendships, and fighting evil but there is also a large focus on the death of Harry’s parents and how that shapes Harry’s life.
- Charlotte’s Web (G): Most of the movies on this list deal with the death of a parent, which is not always the situation with children and grief. Charlotte’s Web is a timeless story about the death of a beloved friend instead, and handles it in an honest and natural way that connects with kids of all ages.
- Coco (PG): A more recent release than the other movies on this list, Coco deals directly with ideas and beliefs related to the afterworld. It can be a great starting point for discussions about what happens after you die and how you can go on cherishing the memories of those you love.
- My Girl (PG-13): This movie is better for older audiences, since it touches on more mature themes of death. Not only does the main character lose her mother and best friend, but her father works in a funeral home, making death something that is an every day part of her life.
Although a movie can never replace a heartfelt talk, it can provide a framework for kids to understand death and beginning the conversation—especially if this is their first time encountering it. You should always watch these movies with your children and be prepared to answer any questions they may have afterwards.