Showing posts with label death. Show all posts
Showing posts with label death. Show all posts

Sunday, November 11, 2018

A Personal Review of the Movie Collateral Beauty

Several of the professional reviews of Collateral Beauty were, to put it straight, not kind. However, fortunately, I watched the movie first, and tripped on the reviews after.

Thanks to Netflix, this past Saturday Night was movie night. Here's the Warner Brothers movie summary that drew me in to give it a go:
Retreating from life after a tragedy, a man questions the universe by writing to Love, Time and Death. Receiving unexpected answers, he begins to see how these things interlock and how even loss can reveal moments of meaning and beauty... by Warner Bros
The movie is jam packed with major talent: Will Smith, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley, Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, Jacob Latimore, Michael Pena, Naomie Harris, and Ann Dowd.

Does This Movie Have too Much Talent In It?

A few of the negative reviewers speak about their reluctance to trust the quality of a film stuffed with an endless list of high priced talent.

Sure, I get that. I can see why that thought crosses a mind. Hell, it crossed mine. But it was also what drew me into choosing the movie.

If the critics ask this nobody, I'd tell them that bad writing is made better with great acting, but good writing can be lost with bad acting.

So, this average-joe tends to look for films with acting talent first. That's not to say that movies free of big names aren't great movies, I'm just saying, the odds go the other away. With my Saturday nights, I play the odds.

Is Collateral Beauty Insensitive to Grief?

After withdrawing into the anguish of losing his six year old daughter, the movie centers around Will Smith's character, Howard Inlet, sending letters to Time, Love and Death.

Reviewers described this presentation of grief as an over simplification that misses the mark of the complexities entwined in loss.

What did I Personally think about this Film's Handling of Grief?
Collateral Beauty (DVD)Collateral Beauty (DVD) - Via Amazon
From an acting perspective, Will Smith's depiction of grief, to me, felt real. From the writing perspective, I also believed the pain.

The question for me was, would I write letters to Time, Love and Death?

In a way, that's how I handled my own father's passing: I was lost, I was looking for answers. I needed answers. In my search for those answers, I asked typical cliched questions, and I wrote.

So yes, although I understand the critical analysis that the movie was an over simplification of grief, I also believe in the principle of Occam's Razor; that the simplest explanation is often the best one.

Having Time, Love and Death appear as people was called corny by some critics. They continued on to say that the messages delivered were also predictable and lacking in depth. I'll agree with the later, that yes, there was depth lacking in the visits by Time, Love and Death. However, finding peace doesn't have to be a complicated process does it? So in my opinion, the clichés don't take away from enjoying the film.

There are a Few Surprises at the End

Very few movies can keep me from guessing the direction the writer is taking. Very few. In fact, it annoys some in my family that I can do this. We'll start watching a movie, and twenty minutes in, I'll hear, "don't tell us where this movie is going!". Lol. Oh well, it's a gift what can I say.

However, I must have been having a bad night, because there are two surprises at the end of the movie that I did not see coming! Two, what! I'm losing my skills or something. I'm a little miffed that I didn't anticipate them. So for that reason, I have to give this movie a good rating.

I say 3.5 stars out of 5, and a good choice for a Saturday night Netflix movie.


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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Grief and Mourning for Those We've Lost

Review This! Is Mourning the Loss Of Our Fellow Contributor, Susan Deppner. 

It's hard to get back in the groove of writing a normal review. Losing Susan has affected me deeply, even though I never got to meet her in person. I felt I knew her better than many of the people I have actually met. When you work together online for years, read each others heartfelt posts, share each other's joys and sorrows, and pray for each other, you form a deep connection. So all of us here at Review This! still have fresh grief from losing Susan last week. 

Encouragement for Those Who Mourn
Photo © B. Radisavljevic


Cancer is a Thief

Cancer has stolen many I have loved from my life. It took both my parents. Dad was gone within days of his diagnosis. Mom had more notice -- a whole eight weeks. I had the privilege of caring for Mom in those weeks with help from Hospice. Here's my story of that time with a tribute to Mom. Being with Mom when she passed into the next life was precious. I wanted to see her off and I did. 

The same kind of cancer that took Susan from us also took one of my very best friends in 2010. A year earlier, the last time I'd seen her, was the previous Christmas. She lived five hours away from us, but we were in the area to see my brother on Christmas Day. 

Sandy and Her Mother Making Mochi Together for the Last Time
Photo © B. Radisavljevic


Sandy invited us to spend the morning and early afternoon before we were due at my brother's sharing a special annual event in the life of her extended family. Sandy's family is Japanese and traditionally met on Christmas each year to make mochi -- something I'd never heard of. I happened to have my camera so I documented the activities for a Squidoo lens that still lives on HubPages: How to Make Mochi. This is not a recipe, but a look into the home of a family that has been making this traditional Japanese food every Christmas to get ready for their New Year's Celebration. It was especially meaningful for us to be included because it was the last time we saw Sandy alive. Ironically, the next year, we attended Sandy's memorial service the day after Christmas. 


Both Susan and Sandy had friends and family who loved them. Both fought hard with faith and hope in their hearts. Both wanted to see their grandchildren grow up. Neither had the opportunity. Both were examples of living out the verse shown on the mugs below.




When God Calls a Loved One Home

We are never really ready for someone we love to leave our lives here on earth. Some leave us suddenly with no warning. Some linger for years fighting an illness like cancer. Maybe we have prayed they would be healed. We wonder why God did not answer that prayer in the way we hoped. Instead we've watched someone we love suffer. Was God not listening?

Many with strong faith, like Susan and Sandy, did not win their battles with cancer. Surely they did not die because they and their praying friends did not have enough faith. Yet some try to lay blame on those very people and tell them they just didn't pray with enough faith.

Edith and Francis Schaeffer founded L'Abri Fellowship, based in Switzerland, to help young people or any others who came to stay in their community find answers to their questions about faith. They were very strong Christians who served God with all they had. Though people all over the world were praying for him, Francis died of cancer.




 During the time Francis was ill, Edith wrote a book about the reasons we have suffering and affliction in our lives as she watched her husband slowly leave her. She helps us grapple with the "Why?" of the pain in our lives. She explains why those prayers for healing may not be answered the way we like.

 I highly recommend this book to all who are trying to understand why they or their loved ones are suffering. I have owned the book for about thirty years now, and I've passed it to many friends who've had cancer and wanted answers. They fought, but they did not all win.

Knowing Why Doesn't Do Much to Make Grief Go Away

Jason's Grave: A friend made the wreath. © B. Radisavljevic
 


I've had my share of grief and bereavement. Both my children preceded me in death. I lost both parents. Our best friend took his own life when he believed cancer would steal his mind. Another very close friend died of cancer in 2013. I should have earned a doctorate in the school of hard knocks for dealing with grief by now. One can and does get through it, but it always leaves an empty place and a scar in the heart. Here's what I've learned through my grieving experiences: How to Grieve and Go on with Life.

Our country music contributor, Barbara Tremblay Cipak, shares part of her grief journey after losing her dad in The Incredible Power of Love. The video she shares there is a fitting end for this post.

Grief and Mourning for Those We've Lost: Encouraging words and help for working through grief
© B. Radisavljevic


Have you lost a loved one recently? What helps you deal with your grief? Feel free to comment or ask questions below. 




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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Review of Facing Death and the Life After by Billy Graham

Facing Death is Something Most People Prefer Not to Think About

It is difficult for people to face their own mortality. We all like to think we'll have the time we need to do all we want or think we should do. But like it or not, death often comes when we least expect it. Whether we need to prepare for our own death or help another prepare,  Facing Death and the Life After by Billy Graham will help. 

Review of Facing Death and the Life After by Billy Graham

How Relevant is This Book for You?

This book was sitting on my mother's bookshelf, now mine. I decided to read it because it was there. I know my own death could come at any time. I'm 73. My dad died at 70 and my mom at 89. Both died of cancer. I have witnessed the deaths of my mother and my husband's mother. I have lost several others I have loved, including both of my children and two very close friends. I wondered what Billy Graham could say to me that I hadn't heard before. 

To be honest, the book surprised me. I guess I expected that since Billy Graham was a Christian evangelist, the book would be like a long sermon on getting ready to meet one's Maker. It did include that -- mostly in the last chapter. The rest of the book dealt with the fear of death, the grieving process, and setting one's house in order before death. It was very practical. 

The Fear of Death


Review of Facing Death and the Life After by Billy Graham


Many of us are not so afraid of what happens after we die as we are of the dying process itself. Very few of us know how we will die. I can assume I will die of cancer because my parents did, but I also could be killed instantly in an accident as my son was. 

With the way the world is going, we might be in the wrong place at the wrong time and suffer an evil attack by another person intent on hurting us. We might even go the way most people would like to -- quietly in our sleep.

I think if we are being honest, many of us do fear the process of dying,  especially if we might die a lingering and/or painful death. Billy Graham gives advice on how to face even that. 

Dealing with the Grieving Process

Graham has counseled many who are about to die and their loved ones they leave behind. He has given us very helpful information on helping those who are nearing death. He urges us not to pretend that a dying person isn't dying. Many facing death do want to talk about it. We should be willing to listen and deal with their fears and questions. This book helps with that. It also helps you understand what a bereaved person may be going through and how you can best help. 


Setting One's House in Order

Have you ever hesitated to have a conversation with an aging parent about such things as whether they have made a will or trust or what kind of death arrangements they may have made? Many people don't know how to approach such a conversation. Some parents try to initiate these conversations with adult children, and the children brush them off. 

Graham urges everyone to plan for their deaths and what will become of their material possessions. He even suggests planning your own funeral or memorial service. Why? To make everything easier for your family. Why should they be left guessing what you want or where the bankbooks are? If we truly love our spouse and children, we will make sure we do our best to provide for them when we are gone. Graham gives very practical advice for setting your house in order long before you may think you will need it. 


Ethical Issues Related to Death


Review of Facing Death and the Life After by Billy Graham


I found discussions of the ethical questions surrounding death to be one of the more valuable parts of the book. Fifty years ago people did not need advanced directives or living wills because there were not so many ways one could artificially prolong life. 

Graham deals with suicide, euthanasia, when or whether to pull the plug when all hope seems gone, refusing heroic measures to prolong life, hospice care, and just about any other issue the dying and their loved ones need to think through. These discussions are very practical. I'm urging my husband to read this because we both need to think more carefully about the way our lives should end if either of us has to make a difficult and painful decision. 

Other Topics Graham Covers in Facing Death

Billy Graham covers attitudes toward death and its meaning as seen in cultures and religions worldwide. He talks about the "conspiracy of silence" surrounding death, the tendency to deny approaching death, and the stages of accepting that one is going to die. He discusses how some well-known people have faced their deaths and prepared for them. 


Graham gives his own answers to these questions:
  • Why do some people die "too soon"?
  • How do you explain death to a child? 
  • Are there stages of death? 
  • What, exactly, is death?
  • Should we be afraid of death?
  • What about divine healing?
  • What is the difference between active and passive euthanasia?
  • How do I help a grieving person?

Theological Questions Graham Answers

Graham is bold in stating his beliefs on what happens after we die. He sees death as the last enemy and one Jesus conquered. He provides answers from the Bible to these questions many wonder about . 
  • Is there a Heaven and Hell?
  • What are they like?
  • Where will I go when I die?
  • Will everyone die?
  • What is the Judgement Seat of Christ? 
  • Is it true we will get new bodies in Heaven? 
  • How can I make sure I'm going to Heaven?

Who Should Read This Book?

I think every adult will find useful information in this book, even those who are not Christians. Much of the book deals with practical matters such as planning for one's death, settling one's affairs, making the best decision possible if you are ever faced with determining if life support should be withdrawn from a loved one, and other issues you may not even realize it's time to think through. 

Christians will find answers to questions that may have puzzled them about death and what comes after death. I like Graham's balanced approach to controversial theological questions. He doesn't take a dogmatic stand on questions about the end times and the rapture, and he comes out against those who claim to be able to predict when Christ will return. He sticks to what the Bible clearly teaches and stays away from those issues which are hotly debated by evangelical theologians. 

If you are terminally ill or know someone who is, this book will definitely help you. It gently explains what you can expect during your remaining time and how to prepare yourself or a loved one for a fast-approaching death. Graham explains the mission of hospice ministries and is supportive of them. 


Where Can I Get Facing Death?


Facing Death is now out of print. It is available used at Amazon, and there is also an audio book available. You can use the links below to purchase these. There are also several copies of this book in different editions on eBay. 


My Own Experiences with Death

It's never too early to prepare to face your death or that of someone you love. My son died in an accident at only 14. We weren't ready to face it. I was better prepared when it was time to face my mother's cancer death and help her through it. I was with her when she took that last journey. You can read our story in Caring for a Dying Loved One. My daughter died by her own hand. I wrote her story as Sarah: The Suicide of Our Adult Child.  All these articles are free to read. 


Book Review of Facing Death and the Life After by Billy Graham



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Monday, November 2, 2015

Every Man Has His Place In Time - Reflections of Life in Song & Lyrics I Couldn't Accept

Read a Review of 'Go On Without Me'

Go On Without Me by Brett Eldredge Begins with These Poignant Lyrics - 'Every Man Has His Place in Time'...


When you've lost someone close to you, you understand that time only cements in the fact that you'll never see them again in this life. 

Of course, your own personal belief system may bring you comfort if it happens to include a knowingness that you'll see them again. Don't ask me how I know, I just know in my heart that we live on, just in a different way. However, I do respect the belief system of others who may see life and death differently. For me, there's no doubt, death is yet another beginning.

In my plight to understand the pain of losing dad, I've written a great deal about it and in fact have an entire category dedicated to him at Drageda.com - The Heart of Country Music. 

Even though I've already written an Emotional Review (I call them ER's ..lol) about this terrific song by Mr. Brett Eldredge, I feel compelled to re-introduce this song to those who may not have had the privilege of hearing it. 

Graduating to a Place Where Accepting These Lyrics Became Possible

When dad first passed away, other than what I had written for his funeral, I wasn't able to write for months about it. For me, it felt like writing about dad would cheapen his life. 

Sorry if that comes across wrong, it's just that the use of 'mere words' to describe this legend couldn't possibly convey who he was. And if I had to explain him 'in words', for me, it would have disrespected the grandness of who he was, who he is. 

I got over those feelings.

And the words poured out.

And I wrote and wrote and wrote some more.

In fact to honor him, I decided to write about him and dedicate a song to him on the one month anniversary of his passing for one full year

I lived up to that, and each month he lived again in words, and in my memory.

Getting over this kind of loss, the loss of someone so integral to who you are and who you've become is impossible. 

The truth is, we never 'get over it'. 

It doesn't matter how many months, years or decades go by, they live forever and who the hell would want it to be otherwise. 

To have known this kind of love, that's the eternal gift. 

The gift of love, the gift of having allowed yourself to be loved and to love with such depth that you dare the pain of loss back into your life ...why? ... because that pain reminds you how sweet and wonderful you had it and how much love you're capable of giving and receiving. 

Love with all your heart. 

My dad would say 'I love you' to people all the time. He was a large, tough man too. Yet his teddy bear heart was witnessed by many. Especially my brothers and I. 

He loved us so much, so so much that when he was passing away, I couldn't let him go, couldn't give him permission to let go, and I wouldn't say goodbye. 

He wasn't conscious near the end, and I would sit in silence by his bedside holding his hand just staring outside the window of his hospital room. Watching the swaying tall trees outside of that room, it's at that point I decided to create a life-marker. 

On windy days the tall swaying cedar trees in my own back yard bring me back to my dad: I couldn't say goodbye to dad, and now the swaying of trees remind me that I didn't need to. And I never will say goodbye. 

The trees have become my rocking chair; when they sway, dad is here.

Which brings me back to the lyrics of this song, 'Go On Without Me' 

After about one year, I was able to accept these lyrics. 

Sounds funny to say that doesn't it? ..'accept these lyrics'

The words 'go on without me' were words I had chosen to reject in that first year, and I'm 'not going on without you' dad ... I'm going on with you, with you forever being a part of me. Your love, your memory, your face, your voice, your hugs, all that is you, is still you, and having you with me in spirit is better than to have never had you at all.

The beautiful lyrics to this song are lyrics I know my Dad or any lost loved one would want to say to us...
"I'll always hear the prayers in your head late at night,I'm walking right beside you when nobody's by your side,I don't want you to cry over my memory, 
So go on without me, without me,
Every breath of life is short and sweet so glad that I'm up here and I got to see you go on without me"


Country Music Fans can Follow me and more via Country Music Reviews on Facebook or at 

Drageda.com - The Heart of Country Music 

Something I've Written For Dads in Heaven:



Love Barb


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Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Incredible Power of Love

Where We Are by Westlife
Another Sunday Post Another week gone by, and as the Country Music Contributor for Review-It, it's my privilege to introduce you to yet another beautiful song.

However, this week I hope you don't mind if I take you outside the country music genre to introduce you to one of the most powerful songs about losing someone you love you may ever hear.

It's such an emotional song, that I want to warn you that if you're feeling a little too emotional over the passing of someone you love, you may not be able to watch and listen to it right now. Having recently lost my dad, both my husband and I have weeped during this song. The music, the message and the story behind the song will deeply touch your soul. I'm sure of it.

The song was written and dedicated to two of the band member's fathers who passed away much too soon.
Memorial Wall Quote
You'll notice when you watch it, the two members in the middle only do the back-up singing during this song: Without knowing for sure, I suspect the song is in honor of their dads. I know for a fact I wouldn't be able to do any singing after the loss of my own dad. As with most families, none of us could barely speak, much less sing. This pain you can cut with a knife.

My dad passed away on March 5th, 2013, and there isn't a second that goes by that I don't have him in my thoughts. I've written so much about dad; some may think I've written too much, but when you've loved someone so deeply, and they've loved you unconditionally in return for your entire life, there's a part of you that will belong to them beyond a human existence, and 'til the end of time. Missing someone this much is almost like bleeding tears. Trying to find a way to explain it to others is hard, actually impossible. Only those who feel this, know this.

It's also the strangest pain. Although it's gut wrenching to miss a person this much, it's a feeling I would never trade. Without it, I would have never known and been loved so perfectly by the most wonderful dad a girl could ask for. So to have had this Father in my life for 78 years, I'll gladly take this pain now. I'm grateful and thankful to have been so loved. Because of his love, I work to spread a little more goodness wherever and whenever I can. When I'm feeling sad or wronged (which isn't often) I remember all the blessings in my life; my dad, my mom, my brothers, my children, my husband, my friends online and offline, and mostly the love I carry inside of me through all of life's challenges, no matter how big.

That is, for me, the incredible power, and gift of love.

Go hug someone you love today, I'll be sure to do it as well, many times.

In memory of my dad; wish I could hear your voice again. Thank you for always being there for me, for all of  us - You are my reason Dad.



By Barbara Tremblay Cipak Country Music Reviewer
Drageda.com - Don't Ride Alone, Get Emotional Daily Assistance


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