Resources for Loss

Scene from "Captain Fantastic" (2016), contributed by Drew Mammel (2021)

This is a video clip from the movie Captain Fantastic, which follows a family as they grieve the loss of their mother, Leslie. While Leslie had a very traditional, Christian upbringing, she and her husband (played by Viggo Mortensen) homeschooled their children in an off-grid, alternative lifestyle. The movie is an incredibly moving story about family, love and loss--simultaneously heartbreaking, hilarious and aesthetically gorgeous. While I certainly recommend watching the entire film, I find this scene particularly moving. Upon Leslie's death, her parents (Frank Langella and Ann Dowd) host a Christain funeral and pretend Leslie lived a totally normal life, even prohibiting her husband and children from coming out of fear that will expose her renunciation of societal norms. They come anyway, and their ideas about how to ritualize loss obviously differ from that of Leslie's parents. This scene actually reminds me of C.S. Lewis' idea that loss challenges our "idea of" someone. The idea of Leslie was quite different to her parents than to her husband and children, and accordingly each group treats her loss differently. While her husband and children hope to celebrate her life and carry out her final wishes, the parents stick to their own idea of Leslie and mourn her loss with a traditional, Christain funeral, inviting a priest that doesn't even know her to eulogize her. This scene also represents disenfranchised grief. The father intends to mourn Leslie his own way, and for that literally gets dragged off the stage, demonstrating that disenfranchised grief can also be a consequence of the atypical or unapproved ways in which someone mourns.

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