If you need help explaining death to your kids, ‘Over the Moon’ can offer some assistance
Death is a tough conversation to have with kids, but this movie can start it
Oct 28, 2020
NOTE: This is a spoiler-free review
Death is difficult to talk about, especially with kids. Explaining how a loved one will permanently be absent from our lives and dealing with the messy, extreme emotions that come after is a tough conversation to have. Still, I wish someone had explained it to me when I was younger.
When my grandmother passed away from old age, I had no idea what was going on. It was my first encounter with death. The clearest memory I have is being in the cremation room of a funeral home, while my mom was talking to one of its employees. My grandmother’s ashes were laid before me in front of the incinerator. “All we have to do now is grind her bones,” the employee said. It wasn’t a joke.
I’ve lost more people since then. Recently, a friend of mine died of COVID-19. His passing reminded me of my first brush with death and how I wish my parents had taken the time to explain it to me in a less traumatizing, more kid-friendly way.
[READ: Death in the time of COVID-19]
To me, that’s what Netflix’s new film “Over the Moon” can do.
The premise sounds wild, but the heart of the movie really lies in something sincere and moving.
Aside from offering beautiful musical performances, relatable Asian family dynamics and extremely cute animal sidekicks, my biggest takeaway from the film was that it never shied away from the grief and pain that death carries with it.
It may be a fantastical animated musical with crazy colors and dance numbers, but the film is grounded by the reality of how life goes on even after death while people are scrambling to hold on to loved ones they’ve lost.
The movie digs into those feelings and shows how differently people deal with loss and longing. Some characters could move on quickly, while others couldn’t let go of their loss for millennia.
Another notable truth that the film portrays is how sharing grief actually lightens the load instead of doubling the pain. Most people (including myself) have a habit of concealing the negative emotions they feel to protect others. The film uses shared grief as a catalyst for healing and moving forward, while never forgetting.
It’s so rare to find movies that deal with death so deftly—let alone an animated children’s film.
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Needless to say, I cried like a baby. Or more accurately, I cried like a grieving adult reeling from the loss of a loved one to an arguably avoidable pandemic. I can’t help but think, “I wish this movie existed when I was a kid.” It carved a place in my mourning heart, right beside my loved ones who have gone before me.
The art of letting go is a difficult one to master, but this film reminds us that letting go doesn’t mean forgetting. It means holding on to all the good memories you’ve shared with people, keeping them in your heart and being open to all the beautiful things that can still come.
Header image courtesy of Over the Moon Facebook
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