Grief is a funny thing (I know it’s not), it manages to boomerang into your system in hysterical ways—especially when you think you’ve learned to live with it. I remember not being able to cry for a year after losing my grandmother—foolishly thinking I was over it, without actually processing it. Then one fine day, I saw an old, frail lady selling mogra at the railway station—her gummy smile, wrinkled skin and almost identical way of draping sari like my ‘daadi’ broke me instantly. As a human, you can neither cheat nor escape grief—you can, however, shoulder the loss in many different ways, something I’ve ironically learnt from TV shows and films. It is a delicate emotion, must you always wrangle it in a complicated way? Not necessarily. At times, you ride out the wave or lean on family—on other days, you thrust yourself completely into work and find your solace, just like Chef Carmen Berzatto does in The Bear, after losing his brother in a tragedy. Throughout the season, you watch him struggle and triumph in equal parts—that’s precisely how grief works, it is never linear.
Including The Bear, here are some of the movies and shows that have sensitively handled the subject of grief, while teaching us a thing or two about treating it.
1. The Bear
What happens when you lose someone without a final goodbye? You’re left solving a puzzle with certain pieces forever missing. The Bear on the outside is a story of a world-class chef returning to his roots a.k.a his family restaurant, which is in shambles because of his brother’s untimely death. Helmed by Jeremy Allen White, who plays ‘Carmy’ CarmenBerzatto—a chef de cuisine, who is now a head cook of a dysfunctional joint where the walls are leaking and gunshot sounds are a regular occurrence. Throughout the 8 episodes, you can watch him and his kitchen crew navigate through a range of personal and professional issues in this chaotic tale of food and family.
2. This is Us
This Emmy-award-winning show is known for portraying grief in a raw and honest way. Over the course of 6 seasons, the Pearson family deals with multiple losses, while still reeling from the ill-timed death of their patriarch—Jack Pearson. Each individual in this show operates from a place of vulnerability as they showcase sensitive issues like substance abuse, trauma, body image issues, anxiety and illness. Even as they tackle a range of personal issues and emotions, the family is consistently showing up, championing one another through all the mini and major milestones.
3. After Life
After Life narrates the story of Tony, whose perfect life crumbles too soon when his wife Lisa passes away because of cancer. Something inside of Tony played by Ricky Gervais permanently breaks after this tragedy. He views the world as a pessimist and goes about his days without caring for anything or anyone—mostly offending everyone in his way. Through his process of grief, he learns that despite his bitterness, there are people in his life who will go the extra mile to show him kindness and that softens his edges. Enough for him to go through life without hating it, if not being madly in love with it.
Pixar’s 2009 animation film Up will wreck you emotionally within the first 10 minutes of the film. The premise of the film revolves around Carl, an elderly widower, whose mission in life is to fulfil a promise he made to his late wife. It is a film that will instantly make you think about life and how fleeting. While getting old isn’t in our control, what we do with our time on this planet definitely is—Up will remind you of what’s important and how it all boils down to love and compassion.
What happens when three people from different walks of life are connected by death? A Karwaan. Shaukat, a car mechanic by profession, played by Irrfan Khan, accompanies Avinash (Dulquer Salmaan) on the journey to retrieve his father’s dead body. Completing the unconventional trio is Tanya (Mithila Palkar) who further adds to the confusion on this road trip. Humour to deal with death isn’t the most likely option, but sometimes, it’s the easiest form of catharsis.
For more show and movie recommendations on different subjects, tap here.