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Movies About Death, Dying, & Grief

Grief & Death Movies

Movies about death, dying, and grief can be a helpful recourse for dealing with your own loss, or learning about the grief experienced by others. They can provide a way to become more informed about the human experience, to raise questions about the purpose of life, to contemplate the afterlife, or to become more empathetic.

Films can be used to broaden your vision of life and death, address deep-seated fears, find comfort in a shared experience, or simply learn about a topic many people find difficult to talk about. The stories told by these movies help us empathize, externalize grief, and process through related experiences.

For these reasons and more, we’ve compiled a massive list of movies about death and related issues. You’ll find documentaries and dramas; short films and animated features; dramas and comedies. Whatever your reasons for being here, you’ll be sure to find something of interest in this comprehensive list.

Massive list of films about death and grief

These films are organized by several categories, so you may find a few that are mentioned in both the “Movies by Genre” and “Movies by Topic” sections.

Movies About Death, Dying, & Grief

Here’s the overall layout:

  1. Part 1: Movies by Genre
    1. Feature Films: Drama
    2. Feature Films: Comedy
    3. Feature Films: Family-Friendly
    4. Feature Films: Classics
    5. Documentaries
  2. Part 2: Movies by Topic
    1. Movies About Death
    2. Movies About Dying
    3. Movies About the Afterlife
    4. Movies About Grief
    5. Movies About Cancer & Illness
    6. Movies About Suicide
    7. Movies About the Funeral Industry
  3. Bonus: TV Shows

We’ve included everything from light comedy to stark and depressing art films, animated classics to indie and foreign selections. Under each section, we feature an “Editor’s Pick,” which will be on the milder side (no horrific or agonizing content, and generally appropriate for a wider range of ages and temperaments). We also tried to make this one of the best movies you probably haven’t already seen, as something that will provide a fresh or unique take on death, grief, and life.

The links after each listing will take you to where you can watch the film digitally on iTunes or Amazon. You can also easily find DVD/BluRay versions through Amazon.

Part 1: Movies by Genre

FEATURE FILMS: DRAMA


Editor’s Pick: Tender Mercies. Robert Duvall won his first, and to date only, Academy Award for his performance as country-western singer Mac Sledge. Tensder Mercies is the understated tale of a broken-down, middle-aged country singer as he gets a new wife, reaches out to his long-lost daughter, and tries to put his troubled life back together.

Watch it on: iTunesAmazon

MORE DRAMA FILMS

FEATURE FILMS: COMEDY


Editor’s Pick: Waking Ned Devine. This little jewel is set in a small town in Ireland, complete with beautiful scenery. When an elderly man learns that he has the winning lottery ticket, he promply suffers a heart attack and dies of shock. Soon the townspeople learn of his fate and the reason for it, and together scheme to claim the prize in memory of the deceased Ned Devine.

Watch it on: iTunes – Amazon

MORE COMEDIES

FEATURE FILMS: FAMILY-FRIENDLY


Editor’s Pick: Song of the SeaA beautifully animated, heartwarming, and atmospheric fantasy film that connects with children and adults on many levels. Weaving in Celtic folklore and fantasy, the film follows Ben, a young Irish boy, and his little sister Saoirse, a girl who can turn into a seal, as they go on an adventure to free the fairies and save the spirit world.

Watch it on: iTunes – Amazon

MORE FAMILY-FRIENDLY FILMS

FEATURE FILMS: CLASSICS


Editor’s Pick: Here Comes Mr. Jordan. Robert Montgomery stars as a headline boxer whose airplane crashes on the way to his next fight. A “heavenly messenger,” new on the job, snatches Joe’s spirit prematurely from his body. Before the matter can be rectified, Joe’s body is cremated and the celestial Mr. Jordan grants him the use of the body of wealthy Bruce Farnsworth, who’s just been murdered by his wife. Joe tries to remake Farnsworth’s unworthy life in his own clean-cut image, but then falls in love; and what about that murderous wife?

Watch it on: iTunesAmazon

MORE CLASSIC FILMS

DOCUMENTARIES

Editor’s Pick: Gates of HeavenThe first documentary from Errol Morris, this great film studies the eccentricities of pet owners and how they respond to the relocation of the local pet cemetery. But it does so in such a way as to cause self-reflection: as we, the viewers, react to the hopes and beliefs of these animal lovers regarding their departed pets, we begin to question our own assumptions about life, death, and the afterlife.

Watch it on: iTunes – Amazon

MORE DOCUMENTARIES

  • A Certain Kind of Death – Unblinking and unsettling, this documentary lays bare a mysterious process that goes on all around us – what happens to people who die with no next of kin. Amazon – YouTube
  • The Bridge – The Golden Gate Bridge is often the place where suicides occur. This documentary crew spent a year filming The Bridge, and the result is a moving examination of the lives of those who chose to end their own lives. iTunes – Amazon
  • Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father – A filmmaker decides to memorialize a murdered friend when his friend’s ex-girlfriend announces she is expecting his son. iTunes – Amazon
  • Dying at Grace – Director Allan King documents the final months of five terminally ill cancer patients at the Toronto Grace Health Centre. Amazon – YouTube
  • Flight From Death: The Quest for Immortality – Explores the ongoing research of a group of social psychologists studying the effects of ‘death anxiety,’ a possible root cause of many of our behaviors on a psychological, spiritual, and cultural level. iTunes – Amazon
  • Gates of Heaven – From famed documentarian Errol Morris, and examination of the devotions, emotions and at times, obsessions exhibited by animal lovers when a pet cemetery is moved to a new location. iTunes – Amazon
  • How to Die in Oregon – In 1994, Oregon became the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Since then, more than 500 Oregonians have taken their mortality into their own hands. In this documentary, filmmaker Peter Richardson gently enters the lives of the terminally ill as they consider whether to end their lives by lethal overdose. At the heart of the film are the patients themselves, their families and friends, as they grapple with the legal option they are allowed in Oregon. iTunes – Amazon
  • Into the Abyss – In this fascinating exploration of a triple homicide case in Conroe, Texas, master filmmaker Werner Herzog probes the human psyche to explore why people kill and why a state kills. Through intimate conversations with those involved, including 28-year-old death row inmate Michael Perry (scheduled to die within eight days of appearing on-screen), Herzog achieves what he describes as a gaze into the abyss of the human soul. iTunes – Amazon
  • Lightning Over Water – Director Nicholas Ray is eager to complete a final film before his imminent death from cancer. Wim Wenders is working on his own film Hammett (1982) in Hollywood, but flies to New York to help Ray realize his final wish. Amazon
  • The Suicide Tourist – Do we have the right to end our lives if life itself becomes unbearable, or we are terminally ill? With unique access to Dignitas, the Swiss non-profit that has helped over one thousand people die, filmmaker John Zaritsky offers a revealing look at two couples facing the most difficult decision of their livesand lets us see as one Chicago native makes the trip to Switzerland for what will become the last day of his life. Amazon – YouTube

Part 2: Movies by Topic

MOVIES ABOUT DEATH


Editor’s Pick: Bright Star. A quiet, contemplative romantic biopic of the famous poet John Keats. Directed with a deft touch by the marvelous Jane Campion.

Watch it on: iTunes – Amazon

MORE FILMS ABOUT DEATH

MOVIES ABOUT DYING


Editor’s Pick: Ikiru (To Live). Directed by legendary filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, Ikiru is a compassionate film that affirms life through an exploration of death. Kanji Watanabe (played by Takashi Shimura) is an aging bureaucrat with stomach cancer who is impelled to find meaning in his final days. Presented in a radically conceived two-part structure and shot with a perceptive, humanistic clarity of vision, Ikiru is a multifaceted look at what it means to be alive.

Watch it on: iTunes – Amazon

MORE FILMS ABOUT DYING

MOVIES ABOUT THE AFTERLIFE


Editor’s Pick: Heaven Can Wait. Some of the films in the list below take a serious look at what happens after we die. This one, most decidedly, does not. Heaven Can Wait (our favorite is the 1943 version directed by Ernst Luitsch) follows Henry Van Cleve after his death as he presents himself at the gates of Hell, only to find he is closely vetted on his qualifications for entry. Heartwarming and humorous.

Watch it on: iTunes – Amazon

MORE FILMS ABOUT THE AFTERLIFE

MOVIES ABOUT GRIEF


Editor’s Pick: Shadowlands. Anthony Hopkins stars in this emotionally moving romantic drama based upon the real-life romance between the British writer C.S. Lewis and a divorced American poet named Joy Gresham. But when Joy is diagnosed with cancer, Lewis’s Christian faith is put to the test–he cannot fathom why their happiness together would be so drastically challenged. Together, they find a way to accept and honor the time they have shared together, and under the sensitive direction of Richard Attenborough, Shadowlands arrives at a conclusion that is both heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time.

Watch it on: iTunes – Amazon

MORE FILMS ABOUT GRIEF

MOVIES ABOUT CANCER & ILLNESS


Editor’s Pick: Lorenzo’s Oil. For Augusto and Michaela Odone (Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon), the news that their five-year-old son, Lorenzo, has a rare terminal disease is sobering, to learn there is no known cure is devastating. Despite the prognosis, the Odones embark on an extraordinary mission of love, consulting and sometimes colliding with the world’s top doctors and scientists in the quest to save their son. Based on a true story.

Watch it on: iTunes – Amazon

MORE FILMS ABOUT CANCER & ILLNESS

MOVIES ABOUT SUICIDE


Editor’s Pick: The Bridge. The Golden Gate Bridge is often the place where suicides occur. This documentary crew spent a year filming The Bridge, and the result is a moving examination of the lives of those who chose to end their own lives.

Watch in on: iTunes – Amazon

MORE FILMS ABOUT SUICIDE

MOVIES ABOUT THE FUNERAL INDUSTRY


Editor’s Pick: Bernie. In the tiny, rural town of Carthage, TX, assistant funeral director Bernie Tiede (Jack Black) was one of the town’s most beloved residents. He taught Sunday school, sang in the church choir and was always willing to lend a helping hand. Everyone loved and appreciated Bernie, so it came as no surprise when he befriended Marjorie Nugent, an affluent widow. Based on a true story and told in quasi-documentary style with interviews from people who actually knew Bernie, this is a dry and somewhat morbid comedy/”mockumentary” filled with understated dark humor.

MORE FILMS ABOUT THE FUNERAL INDUSTRY

TV Shows About Death, Dying, & Grief

Here are some excellent television shows that prominently feature grief, death, and dying as themes.

  • Dead Like Me – 2 seasons. A college dropout, Georgia “George” Lass is killed by a toilet seat that falls from the MIR space station on her first day at a temp agency. Upon death, she is recruited for a team of grim reapers – undead who mix among the living and take people’s souls just before they die. Along with fellow team members Mason, Roxy, Betty, and leader Rube, George discovers life after life. iTunes – Amazon
  • Drop Dead Diva – 6 seasons. A vapid aspiring model killed in a car crash gets brought back to life as an intelligent, overweight lawyer, hoping to find the meaning of inner beauty. iTunes – Amazon
  • Go On – An irreverent sportscaster, pressured by his boss to join a grief support group because he can’t move forward after the death of his wife, finds connection with the group’s extremely varied members. iTunes – Amazon
  • The Killing – 4 seasons. A moody, atmospheric police procedural. The first two seasons cover a single case, and what sets this series apart is how deeply it examines the family of the murdered girl as they process their grief. iTunes – Amazon
  • The Leftovers – 3+ seasons. Three years after the disappearance of 2% of the global population, a group of people from New York struggle to continue their lives, while they cope with the tragedy of the unexplained nature of the event. iTunes – Amazon
  • Longmire – 6 seasons. Western-style police procedural set in modern-day Montana. The protagonist, small-town sherrif Walt Longmire, grieves the death of his wife while serving the community and bringing criminals to justice. iTunes – Amazon – Netflix
  • Monk – 8 seasons. Follows a germaphobic and obsessive-compulsive private detective as he solves mysteries in San Francisco, mourns the loss of his wife, and tries to cope with everyday life. Tony Shalhoub won multiple Emmy awards for his acting as the title character in this charming mystery series. iTunes – Amazon
  • The OA – Having gone missing seven years ago, the previously blind Prairie returns home, now in her 20s with her sight restored. Brit Marling created, wrote, and stars in this dark and mysterious series that explores the interplay between life, consciousness, and death. Netflix
  • On Our Own Terms – A four part documentary miniseries on end-of-life care in the USA. Amazon
  • Pushing Daisies – 2 seasons. This short-lived cult classic series is a “forensic fairytale” that follows Ned, a young man with a very special gift. As a boy, Ned found that he could return the dead briefly back to life with just one touch. Now a pie maker, Ned puts his ability to good use, not only touching dead fruit and making it ripe with everlasting flavor, but working with a private investigator to crack murder cases by raising the dead to name their killers. iTunes – Amazon
  • Six Feet Under – 5 seasons. A modern classic family drama set in a funeral home, with a darkly comic outlook on life and the business of dying. iTunesAmazon
  • Time of Death – This six-episode documentary series from 2013 follows brave, terminally ill individuals as they live out their final days, supported by family, friends, healthcare teams and hospice workers who gently help guide the process. iTunes – Amazon
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5 Ways to Make Your Golden Years More Enjoyable

Final arrangements and planning ahead wisely

Your golden years present you with an opportunity to engage in activities and experience things that you may just have dreamed about. However, in order to make this period in your life more enjoyable, you have to make wise financial and lifestyle decisions. Continue reading 5 Ways to Make Your Golden Years More Enjoyable

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Wood Funeral Urns Designed to Fit into a Columbarium Niche

We now offer a selection of beautiful wood funeral urns deisgned to fit into a columbarium niche. These niches are known by a variety of terms – mausoleum niche, columbarium vault, funeral home niche, etc. Generally these are compartments meant to hold cremated remains in a wall at a funeral home, cemetery, columbarium, or mausoleum. The size of the niche might vary a little depending on how much you are willing to pay, but generally they stay fairly small.

For instance, at Arlington National Cemetery, they require that the funeral urns going into the niche must measure less than nine inches high, wide, and deep. This is typical of the spacial limitations for columbarium niches – the niche you purchase may be a little larger, or a fraction smaller, but it should be pretty close. You may find difficulty getting an urn online that will fit into the required dimensions. Of course, the funeral home will probably have urns that fit, but you may not like the design or the price point.

That is why we have created this selection of wood funeral urns designed to fit into a standard niche space. Let’s take a look.

Wood Funeral Urns Designed to Fit into a Columbarium Niche

These wooden niche urns come in two sizes, three wood types, and with two personalization options. Watch the video above for a brief product demonstration, and read on for more information and some additional photos.

Two urns will fit into most niches
Two niche urns, which will allow a couple to keep their remains together in the niche. Shown in Mahogany wood.

SIZE INFORMATION

  • Urn sizes are standard adult and companion adult
  • Standard adult urn holds 218 cubic inches and measures 8.5″ x 8.5″ x 4.5″
  • This means that two standard adult urns will measure a combined 8.5″ cubed
  • Companion adult urn holds 440 cubic inches, plenty of room for two adults
  • The companion urn measures 8.5″ cubed

WOOD TYPES

  • Rich, red-hued Mahogany wood
  • Subtly understated Natural Cherry wood
  • Honey-toned Oak wood with gorgeous woodgrain highlights
  • Each urn is crafted in Oregon with thick slabs of real wood

PERSONALIZATION

  • Optional laser engraving of text: name, dates, etc
  • Laser engraving is carved into the surface of the wood urn
  • We also offer military service emblems: Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps

PHOTOS OF OUR NICHE URNS

Wood Funeral Urns Designs to Fit Columbarium Niches

Wood urns made in the USA

Niche Urn - Companion Size

To order or for more information see here.

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5 Best Creative Personalized Accents for Your Funeral

Creative accents to personalize your funeral

You have a one-of-a-kind personality, a unique twist on life, and a truly eclectic array of niche interests and creative passions. This is how you will be remembered, and this is how you would like your life to be celebrated at your funeral. If you’re smart (and no doubt you are, *wink*), you are planning ahead for your final arrangements. Let’s start to shape your memorial service by looking at the five best creative personalized accents for your funeral. Continue reading 5 Best Creative Personalized Accents for Your Funeral

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The Loon Bird Wood Urn for Memorials in Minnesota, Wisconsin, & Michigan

Wood Cremation Urn with Loon Bird Art

Our newest 3-dimensional inlay wood art memorial urn design is the Loon Bird Wood Urn, our rustic take on this gorgeous waterfowl found throughout the midwest and especially popular in the lake regions of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ontario Canada.

Here are some key facts and trivia items about the loon bird and the midwest region:

  • State bird of Minnesota
  • Provincial bird of Ontario
  • Depicted on the Canadian dollar coin, which is nicknamed “the loonie”
  • The “loon capital of the world” is Mercer, Wisconsin
  • Mascot of the Major League Soccer club in Minnesota (United FC)
  • Appears in several movies including Finding Dory and On Golden Pond
  • Also called “divers”, the loon can dive up to 200 feet below the water’s surface in pursuit of fish
  • The loon’s eye color will change with the seasons, gray in colder months and a bright crimson in warmer weather

If you are an outdoors enthusiast in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, or other midwest lake regions, you may be interested in a loon memorial urn. Let’s take a look at this beautiful new rustic wood funeral urn.

Loon Bird Wood Urn

Made in the USA from solid wood, this urn is available in your choice of Oak, Maple, Mahogany, or Walnut.

Shown in the video above and the photos below in Walnut wood. The craftsmanship and detailed art etchings are clearly evident, beautifully completed in a way that doesn’t detract from the exquisite appearance of the loon bird as the centerpiece.

Available here.

We can also laser engrave name and dates into the wood on the top or back of the urn to personalize. The urn opens from the bottom with a removeable panel that attaches with screws. These urns are made using genuine and hearty solid wood. The vivid and lifelike 3-dimensional realism is accomplished with a multilayer inlay and detailed laser engraving of the bird.

Loon Bird Wood Urn Wood Cremation Urn for Memorials in Minnesota Memorial Urns for Michigan

A truly lovely memorial tribute to your loved one. Lastly, the urn has a standard adult capacity, holding a little over 200 cubic inches of cremated remains or “ashes.” We can also make it in companion size with a capacity of 400 cubic inches upon request. The Loon Bird Wood Urn is available from Urns Northwest, made to order for you within 3 business days.

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How to Wow Your Funeral Home Customers with a Cafe Corner

Wow your funeral home customers with a cafe corner

Do you want to “Wow!” your funeral home customers? Of course you do. In an appropriately soothing way, of course. What could be better to show care and compassion to the families who come through your funeral home than to help serve their basic needs of nourishment and sustenance? This is why we are proposing that a great way to wow your clients is to create a cozy cafe corner filled with refreshments. Continue reading How to Wow Your Funeral Home Customers with a Cafe Corner

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The Layman’s Guide to Funeral Urns

Funeral urns can seem like a daunting subject to the uninitiated. So many options, so many things to think about, and all you want is to honor your loved one without messing everything up. So to help, we present to you The Layman’s Guide to Funeral Urns. Continue reading The Layman’s Guide to Funeral Urns

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Methods for Scattering Ashes

Scattering Ashes: Ways to Do It

Cremation and scattering ashes can be the simplest and most affordable disposition option. Scattering can also provide a sense of finality and peace for the family, an event filled with meaning and rich symbolism. It is also often done at a loved one’s request, as one of their final wishes. There are a variety of methods for scattering ashes, so here is a brief guide to help you choose which option is best for you. Continue reading Methods for Scattering Ashes

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Considering a funeral at home? Start here.

Considering a funeral at home? Start here.

Are you considering a funeral at home? Have you heard of the “home funeral” movement, and want to know if it’s the right choice for you? You’ve come to the right place.

In this article we describe the basics involved in creating a funeral at home. We compare benefits and drawbacks, and offer some basic considerations and further resources to help you decide if a home funeral is right for you. Let’s dive in. Continue reading Considering a funeral at home? Start here.

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Retired? What You Should Know About Getting Your Affairs In Order

Planning ahead is a wise move regardless of what age you are. Typically, getting your affairs in order becomes more of a priority when you reach those senior years. Planning for the future and for the uncertainties the future may hold is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your family. Continue reading Retired? What You Should Know About Getting Your Affairs In Order