I couldn’t put a word on it. The something that changed in me after my brother died. The something that was not grief.
We all know grief. No, that is not right. We don’t all know grief. Grief is only open to a special member’s club. Those that have loved, and lost. Some might claim to think they know what grief is. Sympathise with you. But until they have actually experienced it for themselves, then, no they don’t know. They don’t belong to ‘the club’.
I was non member and used to nod my head and rub someone’s arm, or hug them, thinking I understood when they spoke about a lost loved one. (We are not talking pets here – for I have grieved those too) But I didn’t really know what is was to lose some one close. And then, without having to pay any dues, or tick any box of terms and conditions, I became an automatic member. February 2 2016. A month short of the full 12 months subscription. Oh, didn’t they tell you? It renews every 12 months. Actually, it renews with every memory blip.
Anyone can look up grief, and learn what to expect: the five stages of grief, tips on grieving, bereavement counseling, there is even a quiz on grief But there is very little on the joy of grief.
WAIT – what?! The joy of grief?
Yes, you see that is the bit that took me by surprise too. And I couldn’t quite put my finger on how to pin it down, how to name it, until I saw the movie ‘Collateral Beauty’. (No, we are not talking Arnold Schwarzenegger here, that is Collateral Damage and a whole different movie.) This one is ‘Collateral Beauty‘ with a fabulous cast of Will Smith, Edward Norton, Keira Knightly, Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet…. to name a few. In short, the movie follows a man (Will Smith) who copes with his daughter’s death by writing letters to Time, Death and Love.
For me it was a sort of ‘Love Actually’ meets ‘A Christmas Carol’ with a ‘totally did not see that coming’ twist at the end. I loved it. Loved it. The movie critics couldn’t help but point out the “fundamental flaws” but I was more than happy to suspend my disbelief and go with it.
I digress. Back to the ‘Something’. Collateral Beauty. That is what made me sit up and go ” yes, that is it!”
You see, after my brother died, yes I grieved, but I was also woken up to this new Something. I found myself circling the wagons, life became about the non material stuff. The first two years I definitely grieved, (it took me a long time to be able to say ‘Fergus is dead”) and went through the different “stages”. Equally I became obsessed with Time (realising, it is short), Death (is it really the end?) and Love (“better to have loved and lost, then not loved at all”).
There are some great quotes in the movie:
As for Collateral Beauty in my reality – I no longer cared about money, stuff and goals. My focus became much more inwardly and examining the small stuff. Death and grief showed me how vulnerable I was. And as a result I started to appreciate all the things that I have, as opposed to wanted. Appreciated what was around me. Literally. I would stop and take time to watch an ant march or a hen scratch and peck. Clouds became art forms. I became mindful. Started to see the beauty in everything. No, that’s not quite right. Would look for the beauty in everything. When I walked, I was ON THE WALK. My head wasn’t in the office or at home thinking about dinner. Before my brother died, I didn’t do that. I didn’t see the beauty. No, again, that it not quire right. I saw beauty, but I didn’t look for it. Now I do. Mostly it finds me. The death of my brother opened my mind, and my heart. It is as if it is the payment I received having loved my brother: Collateral Beauty.
When I started to research it, of course, I found lots on it. Here is another piece where it is expanded and others contribute to their take on it. And while it it is not referenced, but I believe this ted talk touches on it too, for through vulnerability we become more connected.
COLLATERAL BEAUTY – what was pledged to me as a result of Death, Time & Love
It is a gift I have been given, in a way…
a free gift in conjunction with joining the new
‘Special Member’s Club’.
Are you a member?
Do you see the Collateral Beauty?
One thought on “Life lesson, from a movie”
Thank you for this lovely, honest, heart-achingly wise post. And thank you for your K-Girls books (which I’m enjoying reading right now). I gave a nod to you and the books in my recent short story “The Kylemore Abbey Ghost Whistler.” Peace be with you.