Merry Christmas everyone! I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday and ate a lot of good food. I know I did! We started the celebration early on Christmas Eve when we opened presents and went to see The Good Dinosaur in theaters afterward. It wasn’t just a movie for my niece and nephew; the adults loved it, too! I swear I think some of those scenes were real. Those mountain scenes took me to a whole other world.
I don’t think anybody else realized, but The Good Dinosaur is a movie about overcoming loss and grieving. It was funny, but ultimately the message hit home hard. I saw a lot of myself in Arlo, the protagonist grieving the loss of his father, and I left the movie theater thinking about my dad, who passed away a few years ago.
I’ve had time to grieve, but I’ve realized that the pain of loss never goes away. I’ve found ways to cope, but sometimes a song, or a word will remind me of the hard times I went through when my dad was dying. Just like this freaking movie! Ugh, I loved it, though. I did. Probably shouldn’t have watched it on Christmas, a time I was already feeling a little bit sensitive and emotional. The following are reasons why The Good Dinosaur is actually about coping with loss.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is real
Arlo’s dad died in a scary way. He watched his dad get swept away by a tower of water and Arlo had flashbacks throughout the movie of his father dying. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, some people may develop PTSD after living through a dangerous situation or after watching a loved one die unexpectedly.
Parents who put pressure on their kids is common after a parent die
I know Arlo’s mom worried about the harvest, but I was a bit miffed at this fictional character for telling her son he needs to work harder. In life, it is a common occurrence that kids feel like they need to step up and fill in for the missing parent’s role. Kids need to be kids. It’s not their responsibility to make up for the person who died. They need to focus on being a kid since a parent’s death can take that freedom away.
When we blame death on others or something else
Arlo blamed his dad’s death on Spot, who would eventually turn into his companion. He thought if it weren’t for Spot that his father would still be alive. Arlo realizes that it wasn’t Spot’s fault when he has a dream with his father. Nobody can make sense of death! Feeling guilty for a loved one’s death creates nothing but suffering for the person who is mourning. Feeling blame or assigning blame on others will only make your heart heavy with emotion and harder to move on.
Death sometimes strengthens family bonds
Loss can tear a family apart or bring them closer. Death is a transformation, not just for the person who died, but the people who are affected by it. I would have never written about grief if my dad hadn’t died. Because my father died, I have a new appreciation of relationships and how I can strengthen the ones I have. I was glad to see that Pixar reunited Arlo and his family at the end. The message is clear: families don’t have to turn away from each other.
It’s possible to connect with others who have faced a similar loss
The scene where Arlo is trying to explain where his family is (watch the trailer below to see!) through sticks was a tear-jerker. Spot gets it and shows those the sticks that both his parents died, and now he’s on his own. They find comfort in knowing they both have lost their family and bond over this. In life, I know this is true. Sometimes, I just want to talk to someone who has gone through a similar situation of my own.
I want to mention that I am not promoting The Good Dinosaur or the trailer I have linked to for compensation in today’s blog post. I genuinely like this movie and want to share my unique perspective with you. Feature images are courtesy of Fandango.