Widows & Widowers on screen
Love and loss are universally big themes, and as widows and widowers they have in some way undoubtedly defined our lives. It is perhaps inevitable that scriptwriters, producers, and directors often include these themes as entertainment for both the big and small screen.
Widows and widowers can be seen in everything from Hollywood blockbusters to Netflix box sets. Here at Chapter 2, we recognise that sometimes it can be helpful to watch a drama that resonates. It can often make us feel less alone and helps us make sense of our feelings and loss. Please do bear in mind that some dramas may also require a trigger warning which means they can bring up upsetting memories or flashbacks. It often helps to Google something ahead of watching so you can understand the themes and context. Then, you can make a judgement call on whether you are in the right place emotionally to watch it.
We thought it would be useful to share just a few of the films and tv programmes featuring widows or widowers that we’ve enjoyed or found helpful – we’d love to hear your thoughts on these films or shows and hear your recommendations for content you’ve enjoyed. Oh, and if you are settling down to watch any of these then don’t forget the tissues – a good cry can often be cathartic!
Written, directed and featuring Golden Globe winner Ricky Gervais, After Life is a brutally honest, poignant and at times hysterical portrayal of the reality and surreal nature of grief. The show follows local newspaper writer Tony Johnson whose life is turned upside down following the death of his beloved wife Lisa dies from breast cancer. He contemplates suicide, but instead decides to spend his life punishing the world for his wife’s death by saying and doing whatever he wants regardless of how it makes other people feel. Although he thinks of this as his “superpower”, his plan is undermined when everyone around him pities him and tries to make him a better person.
And Just Like That…
And Just Like That is a revival and sequel to the hit HBO series Sex and the City. It is set 11 years later and sees three of the original characters Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte navigate the journey from the complicated reality of life and friendship in their 30s to the even more complicated reality of life, relationships and friendship in their 50s. Spoiler alert – Fans of the original series will remember the infamous and rather handsome Big, who is now happily married to Carrie. In episode one, Big suffers an unexpected and sudden heart attack after a strenuous Peloton workout and sadly dies leaving Carrie grief stricken and negotiating life as a widow. Later in the series Carrie attempts dating in search of her own Chapter 2.
Dead to Me
Christina Applegate plays Jen Harding, an estate agent struggling to handle grief after her husband is killed by a hit-and-run driver. Her life improves when she meets Judy Hale, played by Linda Cardellini, another widow at a grief support group who becomes a fast and close friend. But (spoiler alert!) when Jen learns that Judy isn’t exactly who she says she is, their relationship changes.
A Man Called Otto
A recent cinema release, A Man Called Otto features Tom Hanks playing Otto, a depressed and grieving widower who has given up on life following the death of his wife. He attempts suicide thankfully unsuccessfully several times in some heart-breaking scenes. A young family move into the neighbourhood nearby and he meets his match in quick witted Marisol which leads to a friendship that will turn his world around. It’s a touching tale guaranteed to make you laugh and cry.
Sleepless in Seattle
An old classic and one that illustrates that we all deserve an opportunity to find our Chapter 2. This film is a 1993 American romantic comedy again starring Tom Hanks as Sam a widow. Having lost his wife to cancer, he moves to Seattle with his 8-year-old son. One year later on Christmas Eve, Jonah (the son) calls in to a radio talk show and persuades a reluctant Sam to go on air and talk about how much he misses his wife. Thousands of women around the country hear the programme, are touched by Sam’s story and some write to him. One of the listeners Annie Reed, played by Meg Ryan, is a Baltimore Sun reporter who is actually already engaged but falls for Sam on hearing him speak. Unsure of where it will lead, she writes to Sam asking him to meet her at the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day.
We’d love to hear about which film and tv series you’ve enjoyed, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.