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“Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang. This short story is the basis for the 2016 movie Arrival, and I think it’s a lot better than the film adaptation. It’s a slowly unfolding story about loss and cherishing the time you have with people; as soon as I finished it, I reread it immediately. You can find it in Chiang’s book Stories of Your Life and Others or read it here.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. This 2015 novel, which alternates between the onset of a pandemic and its aftermath 20 years later, is a gripping read that also perfectly encapsulates the loneliness and isolation of a big loss. While the HBO show is a well-regarded adaptation, I’d still recommend reading the book, as the prose is really lovely. (“As Jeevan walked on alone he felt himself disappearing into the landscape. He was a small, insignificant thing, drifting down the shore. He had never felt so alive or so sad.”)
The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa. This book takes place on an unnamed island where entire categories of objects start disappearing without warning or explanation, and the work of the memory police is to ensure these items stay forgotten, never to be spoken of again. While that description makes it sound like an intense dystopian thriller, it’s actually quite soft and mournful.
Severance. This gorgeously shot Apple+ series manages to be both a totally engrossing (and extremely well-paced) puzzle box and a really great meditation on work, grief, and the ways we try to compartmentalize and move on from loss. After finishing season one I immediately wanted to rewatch it—it’s that good.
Black Mirror. Each episode of Black Mirror is its own contained story, and several of them deal with loss and heartbreak. I’d recommend season one, episode three: “The Entire History of You” (breakups/divorce); season two, episode one: “Be Right Back” (death/loss); and season three, episode four: “San Junipero” (death/loss/love).
Everything Everywhere All at Once. The only thing I knew going into this movie was that it involved multiverses and would supposedly make me weep. But because it’s so absurd and laugh-out-loud funny, I found myself wondering, with 30 minutes or so left to go in the film, when I was supposed to start crying. Not long after that, my girlfriend and I both found ourselves fully sobbing—like, tears streaming down our faces. If you lean toward the fun/distracting stuff when you’re grieving, but also want some emotional release, I can’t recommend it enough.
Inception. Perhaps you saw this movie when it came out in 2010 and don’t recall it feeling very grief-y; if that’s the case, I would definitely encourage you to revisit it. On rewatch, the complex plot becomes easier to follow, so you can focus on the story, which is about corporate espionage, sure, but also about coping with loss. If your grief has made your life feel completely surreal or like a nightmare you can’t wake up from, definitely add this one to your queue.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. This was my go-to “I’m really sad” movie for years, and while other, newer, offerings have slowly taken over the top spot, I will always have a special place in my heart for it. It checks all my boxes (heartbreak, do-overs, wiped memories, snow) and gets extra points for starring Kate Winslet.
You’re not alone in this, and you won’t feel this way forever. Until then, I’ll be thinking of you.
|| There's no end of feeling good or bad, be careful for your soul ||
Believe me these ideas will help you too. Just don't forget you're not alone in this journey!
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