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

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


The Review This Contributors

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Review This is Dedicated to the Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor
We may be apart, but You Are Not Forgotten

Susan DeppnerSusan Deppner

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