Helping Children Understand Death Through Movies

Helping Children Understand Death Through Movies

Helping children understand death can feel like an intimidating task. Wanting to explain the circumstances and finality of the situation and answer their naturally curious questions can feel enormous. Especially if the passing has affected you personally. A child’s experience with the passing of a loved one is different based on their age, maturity level, involvement in the life of the person who has passed and the family circumstances in which you all approach the concept of death.

In some cases, where grief is overwhelming, it might be easier to let Hollywood assist your family by telling the story. Presenting a story to a child with similarities to their experience can be a therapeutic way to understand and project their feelings. When explaining death to children it is important to maintain honesty and truth about the permanence of passing away.

In my personal experience as a Funeral Director, these films have helped families discuss the concept of death and enable children to ask questions, and promote a healthy curiosity. I’ve been careful to include an option for each of the potential scenarios you may be faced with as a parent to promote conversation with your child around their feelings.


Helping children understand death through movies


Marley and Me - The loss of a pet

helping children understand death - marley and me

Image source: Hollywood Chicago


The passing of a family pet is often a child’s first brush with death. The permanence of seeing a ‘family member’ every day and then suddenly not having them around can be confronting and difficult for them. Depending on the age of the child, they may need some help to best express their feelings. Watching a film about the life and loss of a pet can help a child understand the circle of life and that someone important to us is always remembered, even if they aren’t with us anymore.


Up - The loss of a grandparent

helping children understand death - up

Image Source: Filmofilia


Pixar’s colourful film ‘Up’ is an excellent family film to help a child understand not only the passing of someone, but the effect it has on others upfront. The star elderly character Carl and the energetic boy scout Russell leave a natural connection for children to adopt and replace themselves in the scenario of the passing of a grandparent or elderly relative. Up is also a film about adventure, which implies that though life has ended for Carl’s wife, Ellie, Carl has to learn to get back out there and see the world. No matter how big Carl’s pain and loss is, he manages to overcome it with the help of his unexpected friend Russell and go on the adventure he always wanted to.

It can be comforting for a child to know that even when someone passes away, we think about them all the time and love them even when we are having fun without them there too.


My girl - The loss of a friend

helping children understand death - my girl

Image Source: BluRay


This is one I’ve pulled from the archives. My Girl is a film that from the get go builds a healthy relationship and understanding of death for children. Growing up as the daughter of a Mortician with her own mother having passed away, Vada is in the presence of death constantly. Children understand death differently at different ages and from different family backgrounds, and they certainly won’t all be as accepting as Vada, so it’s important to ensure you are helping your child in their best version of understanding. When Vada experiences the sudden loss of her friend, her understanding is instant and heartbreaking because she understands the reality of her loss. Promoting a comfortable relationship with passing away is possibly the best way to explain death to children; and this film shows the raw reality and emotion attached to the environment.


The Lion King - The loss of a parent

helping children understand death - the lion king

Image Source: The Guardian


Disney’s ‘The Lion King’ is perhaps the first cinematic experience my children had. I remember taking them to see The Lion King on the big screen and having to explain the incredibly raw scene where Mufasa is betrayed by his brother, Scar . It was no easy feat to talk about passing with a child, and even more difficult to explain what Simba must have felt as he thought it was his fault. The loss of a parent should be handled differently in relation to the age of the child and some older children (7 and upwards) can sometimes experience survivor’s guilt. Helping children understand death and form an acceptance is an important and difficult step which requires support, structure and honesty.

All people will experience the death of a relative or friend differently, and helping a child understand death through cinema is just one avenue you can take. Different cultural, religious, lifestyle and family type situations will help to shape a child’s ability to cope with loss including whether or not a child should attend the funeral of a loved one.


Should you need assistance or need further advice in helping your children through this process, please reach out and make contact. Our ladies are experienced and ready to assist you in your time of need. Our Facebook community provides useful information and support, come join us.

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Lady Anne Funerals is here to support and assist your family through what can be a difficult time, with a ladies touch. 

We are available to discuss a range of services to support your family, including: 

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Some of the families we've helped

“I just wanted to send you our sincerest thanks for everything you and your incredible team did for us in making the most perfect day, celebration and farewell of our beautiful Harper.

I have given a lot of thought to your business and the industry and I think it is perhaps the most important business for families to get it right when it comes to planning a funeral which may be sudden or may be a long time in the making. Either way, when one is faced with the unfortunate situation of needing to arrange a funeral, only then do you realise the importance of getting it right.

We experienced first hand the polar opposites the industry offers. It is not just about the cars, the booklets, the music and all the things that make up the day - its about the service, the care and most importantly it’s about the people.

From our very first conversation we could sense your genuine care to our situation and your attention to detail was obvious - this was very different to the previous conversations we had with others we had been referred to. Those other companies wanted to commence meetings with the paperwork side of things upfront which is a very confronting thing to do just days after losing your loved one - and when one of the others that I am referencing couldn’t even refernece our daughters name as our meeting started - we were horrified of how poor the service of care could be.

This is where you and your team shine. After feeling very lost in our search to secure the perfect funeral director to create the perfect day, my wife all of a sudden recalled you standing out the front of your office each morning watering the surrounding gardens to ensure a beautiful front of house. Well, I can assure you, it is not just the front of house that is beautiful - its the entire package that is beautiful.

Your manner, your direction and your expertise is evident from the get go. Nothing is too hard for you or your amazing team. The personal care made us feel like we were the only funeral you were working with at the time, and that’s exactly how it should be.

The finer detail, such as driving past our house so our daughter could go past our house one last time, then leaving the most beautiful flowers on our doorstep, to bumping into us at the Church because you were just doing your own research to make sure the day was seamless. This combined with your recommendations from every aspect as everything was very foreign to us, you were able to guide us to achieve the most beautiful farewell.

The day itself was simply perfect. Not once did we have a concern. The car was shining, your team dressed beautifully, cold water provided for us, directions for our guests, directions for us. Everyone commented on how amazing the day was and how incredibly your team were. Seamless is the only word I can use. It doesn’t stop here.

Your personal care and guidance then allowed us a more intimate farewell the following day (we are so grateful for for this recommendation and possibly would have missed this special day if you had suggested it was the best idea). Again, you and your team made us feel like you had nowhere else to be, and no one else to help. Just us. The setting was beautiful, the celebrant (that you arrange and recommend) is a delightful, your team make this day even more special than the last.

This is something we never want to go through again but there will be so many others, that like us, have no idea where to start to look for the right funeral director for their own special day. All I can say is that I hope that they appoint Lady Anne Funerals. We learnt a lot quickly and it is again a business many do not ever consider needing but without question one of the most important businesses to select the right person and the right team.

I welcome any of your future potential clients to contact me if they wish to discuss our experience with the amazing Lady Anne team. We thank you for giving our beautiful baby the most incredible farewell that was exactly how we imagined it, you just made it happen.”

Lee Dowdall

“We wish to thank you for having helped us put together a beautiful farewell for our mother, one which she would have been delighted with.

It was a difficult day and it would have been worse without your synchronised, seamless and consistent presence as well as attention to detail.

We value your candour as the people you are and the very sensitive manner in which you conducted the service.

Thanking you from the bottom of our hearts,

The Pastore Family
Karen has supported my Mum and me through the most difficult week of our lives as we not only planned a funeral, but interred my Dad to his new home. I will be forever grateful to Karen for her ongoing support, guidance, kindness, empathy and friendship over the last week. Karen has now become part of our extended circle of close family friends.
Daughter of the late Sveta Dordevich
Lady Anne Funerals has the compassion, understanding and empathy that many of the larger funeral homes do not possess. My aunts funeral was dignified and classy everything she deserved. I would highly recommend Lady Anne (and have) as they go above and beyond.
Joanne Marks
I am overwhelmed with the feedback on how beautiful it all was from all who attended. You and the other ladies were wonderful, looked so elegant, and made the day so very special for all who loved Paul.
Barbara Sommerville Enright
Karen and her staff treated us with the utmost respect we could not have been in better hands during this difficult time. My mum had organised her funeral with a prepaid funeral plan which she had purchased from Karen almost ten years ago this also made this upsetting time much easier to deal with and she got all the things that she wished for.
Malcolm Ellis
On behalf of my family, I would like to thank Lady Anne Funerals for a beautiful service yesterday for my aunt Dot. All who attended commented on how lovely the service was & the professionalism of all the staff. Thanks again very much for helping making a sad day one of celebration of Dot’s life.
Judith Neville

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