How the movie inside out offers important lessons for grieving children and adults

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Inside Out Offers Important Lessons for Grieving Children and Adults

Originally posted by Whats your grief

If you’re wondering whether Pixar’s newest movie Inside Out will make you cry, the answer is maybe. I know because I saw it a few days ago, thanks to Discount Tuesdays at the local movie theater and two very bored children (we’re on week two of summer vacation people, things are not looking good).

I’m not a particularly weepy person save for the occasional down day, random reminders of my deceased mother in the grocery store, when I get all the way home before realizing I picked up the wrong carry out order, and when watching an especially rousing musical number. So you see, I only cry for the best most important reasons.

Being the tough girl that I am, I didn’t think Inside Out would make me cry. I managed to hold strong for about 95% of the film, but there was this one part….well…I won’t spoil it for you, but it made me very sad. My 5-year-old noticed the tears running down my face and immediately notified her 8-year-old sister. Obviously, they were both horrified. For the remainder of the movie every time something even remotely sad happened my kids would sneak looks at me, making sure I had myself under control. So yes, you too may cry in front of your children and that’s okay.

I typically don’t like writing about movies, but the message of Inside Out is so spot on for anyone who’s experienced a loss or gone through a tough transition that I almost feel like covering this movie is in my job description. Before our adult readers dismiss what I have to say, I want you to know this movie falls among a handful of movies that transcend what you typically expect from animated movies.

On the surface these movies are made for children with their beautiful animation and funny characters, but on a deeper level they really effectively tackle themes and issues around growing up (Inside Out, Toy Story), death, loss, and grief (Up, Big Hero 6), and even existential themes (that’s you again, Toy Story). In doing this, they often allow grown-ups to see these concepts from a younger more innocent perspective in ways that are thought-provoking, disarming, and profound.

I’m horrible at summaries and synopses (that’s the plural of ‘synopsis’, I looked it up), but I want to convey to you why this movie is great for children who’ve experienced losses of any kind. I’ll try not to include many spoilers but proceed with caution if you want to see the movie with completely fresh eyes.
There are different emotions and they have names

Even adults can struggle to name their emotions from time to time. In my experience, children are seldom cognizant of the ebb and flow of their feelings or the idea that they have many different emotions rattling around in their cute little brains. Inside Out is essentially told from the perspective of the main character 11-year-old Riley’s emotions who are personified as the characters Joy, Fear, Sadness, Anger, and Disgust.

Of course humans experience a broader range of emotions than just these five, anyone who’s been through grief can attest to that. The director and his team had to identify a few key emotional players so they called in an expert psychologist, Paul Ekman, who helped them hone in on their main characters. These characters represent 5 of the 7 emotions which Ekman says have universal facial signs (the two they excluded were surprise and contempt).

Despite an incomplete line-up of emotions, the movie, which depicts the emotions interacting with one another from a control center in Riley’s mind, helps to frame the emotional juggling act that occurs inside our brains and how emotions can influence our perceptions, actions, and reactions.

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Sad is not bad

This is an actual plot line, not some abstract concept that grown-ups pick up on if they’re paying attention. For the majority of Riley’s life, the emotion Joy has been in the driver’s seat. As she grows older and moves away from her childhood home, to the horror of all the other emotions Sad starts coloring some of her memories. Everyone wants Riley to be happy, even Sad, and the emotions all believe they need to protect her from sadness and pain at all costs. So, as they always have in the past, the emotions look to Joy to save the day.

You know the type of person who is always telling you to “be positive!” and “look on the bright side!”? This is the person who is really uncomfortable with things like tears and sorrow and they believe it’s personally their job to take away your pain. Well, that’s Joy and everywhere you look she’s there chasing Sad away. But Joy isn’t able to control things in the way she has in the past and throughout the movie Joy, along with the audience, has to learn that it’s not only okay to feel sad, but sometimes its an important and necessary part of being able to feel joy.

P.S. – For those of you who’ve ever had someone try to comfort you in your grief by minimizing your sadness or by suggesting you find the positive, there’s a scene in here you’re going to love. That’s all I’m going to say, let me know what you think after you’ve seen it.

P.P.S. – In part of the movie both Joy and Sad leave the control center of Riley’s brain and so she can only feel fear, anger, and disgust. I love that they depicted how disconnected, isolated and confused someone can feel due to the absence of certain emotions. This could be an interesting conversational starting point for any child impacted by depression.
Memories can be both happy and sad at the same time

A main crux of this movie is how emotions impact Riley’s memories. Memories are represented by colored balls and the balls are colored depending on the memory. So a happy memory is yellow, a sad memory is blue, a disgusting memory is green, you get the picture. Throughout Riley’s childhood, most of her memories appear to be happy, but then she has to move and say goodbye to her friends and her home and many of the memories turn blue.

This is one of the movie’s most poignant details for children who have experienced a death or other type of loss. One of the most difficult things about losing someone we love is that happy memories we shared with that person become colored with a tinge of sadness. Joyful memories are still happy, but they also become a little painful because the person is gone. The depiction of happy memories becoming a little blue is one that children impacted by loss may be able to relate to.

Conversely, the movie also teaches us that moments which start out a little sad can have positive value in that they lead to moments of love and support, lessons learned, and personal growth. One of the final memories Riley makes in the movie is a mix of both blue and yellow and finally the characters were all able to see the inherent okayness of this.
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The beginning of a dialogue

Emotions are really tricky; they defy definition, there’s no consensus on how many there even are, and they constantly change. Also, as adults it’s difficult to remember how our emotions were felt or understood when we were children. Inside Out simplifies this concept and illustrates emotions in a way that makes it really easy for us to talk to kids about their feelings and how their feelings might influence their behavior.

Children won’t always pick up on the more complex and subtle messages of a movie so it’s always helpful for adults to make the most of these teachable moments. Although afterwards it was easy for my children to identify who drives their emotions in different scenarios, when I asked my older daughter why might someone’s memories be both happy and sad she seemed a little unsure. I had to offer the example of my own memories of my mother being both happy because I love her and sad because she’s gone in order for Evelyn to have a little a ha! moment. We wrote a post a while back on making the most of teachable moments in different Disney movies, you may want to check it out.

Lifestyle in the Second Mile

What we do living in the second mile…..

Every company has a motto, a creed or credo…something they believe in. It’s different everywhere. It could be about service, or manufacturing a good/product. When asked what do we believe in recently I knew my answer….Life in the second mile.

What is the second mile? Go the extra mile, it all stems from roman times where a solider could ask you to literally carry his pack for one mile. It was a law that whomever they asked were required to do so. Some compatriots were even known to carry the pack a second mile by choice.

The first mile is what is required of you. This could be at your job, inside your home life, what you must give to have a relationship with some one. The second mile on the other hand is freedom, it is entirely by your own design because it is above and beyond what you were called upon to do. The second mile is your legacy. It is what people will remember you for.

What do we believe? We believe in the lifestyle inside the second mile whether it is inside your home or your office. It does not mean that we don’t fail sometimes but everyday that we have life we are given an opportunity to get up and try again. We are given the opportunity to build your legacy by design.

The second mile is simply being thoughtful. Going above and beyond. It does not have to be grand gestures but simple kind thoughtful moments. This can change your life. Your career.

We believe in this life and I am more than proud to be a part of a family and team that believes in this effort. Happy New Years…here is to life in the second mile in the new year.

#secondmile

Happy New Years! From the Williams Family

Happy New Years! From the Williams Family

“We’re Just Going to Have a Party (Later On)”

Alan Wolfelt Phd How many families have walked through your doors in recent years requesting not a funeral, but a “celebration” or a “party?” Quite a few, if the conversations I regularly have with my friends in funeral service are any indication.

http://funeralhomeconsulting.org/best-practices/were-just-going-to-have-a-party-later-on/

Slow Ride

“How do you work at a funeral home?”

The answer is simple. There is no feeling other than being behind the wheel of a hearse carrying a casket draped with an American flag while being escorted by some of the finest departments in the state. In case you didn’t know, Mt. Pleasant Police Department will lead you through town and then they quickly hop from the vehicle with their hand over their heart for the family/veteran…seeing the city fire department pulled to the end of the drive standing in front of their engine to pay respects….while passing through your hometown of Hampshire, the people at the stores, yard sales, and walking on the sidewalks quickly stop or pull over as a sign of respect.. You will find the answers to that question above.. As we traveled to the cemetery I was most humble for what the American flag represented in my rear view mirror.

These are not horrible places to live, these places are what we call home.
#funeraldirector #confession

 

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New Chapters & Fire Alarms

”  Sometimes Life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going [ after being fired from Apple ] was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.  If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it gets better and better as the years roll on.  So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

 – Steve Jobs

Stanford University, 2005

 

Its easy to quote Steve Jobs because he believed in passionate work.  He created fans of a company and product instead of simply a consumer,  by being passionate about his work. It’s easy to admire him for that. I’m not going to elaborate much more on Steve Jobs even though I feel I could but rather the impact of loving what you do. Here lately more less the impact of loving what I do has had on me and other members of this staff.

Many of you know we endured a horrible fire nearly two years ago this April and spent a full  year rebuilding. That year was more tethering to core values then anything we have ever experienced. We remembered on some level that we are privileged to have each little thing that we have no matter how small. We redefined how we wanted to serve families, and we resided to only keep family  (staff) who truly knew how to serve people the way they should be.  We didn’t settle….we began a new chapter. We continue to look for ways to serve families in a way that best suits each one.

Serving families is the reason we exist however to run a funeral home not corporately owned it often means that the funeral directors and family take true ownership. Those that went through the fire with us especially. So in the middle of the night last week when the fire department notified us to our horror that our alarm was going off. In fear our funeral director Kerry drove here in praying we would not be experiencing this once again. Well obviously we were not…malfunction of an alarm…I arrived a short time later, when they put us on fire watch. Fire watch means your alarm is off so it will not notify the fire dept. so somebody has to stay in the building. So we sat together in the back hallway of the funeral home while we waited on multiple people to show up to fix our malfunctioning fire alarm. My point…..Kerry took ownership of it….he cared. Like any of them would have if they would have answered the phone that evening.

We do what we love, and in order to do that some times it means sitting in a building till 3 am while they fix a fire alarm. It means cleaning bathrooms in between funerals so each time its clean and prepped for a family.  It means often that your day begins at 1 am and may not end till well into the next night. Sometimes there are small things that are necessary in order to truly do “great work”. The life of funeral director is full of change and adaption each day at least for or some may say it is  full of new beginnings and fire alarms.

 

 

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Why I do what I do…Kerry Boshers style

Growing up my mother immediately noticed me scanning the newspaper columns while searching for the obituaries. Once I found the obituaries, I would examine the pictures of those printed. This started around the age of four. In 1999 at the age of 10 my great grandmother passed away. I remember staying with my grandmother to keep her company as she had just lost her mother, and I was somewhat angry I wasn’t allowed to make arrangements with her because the funeral home wasn’t a scary place to me like they described to me to lure my wants of going away. At the time I didn’t realize that making arrangements wasn’t a place for children.

Several years later, I lost both of my grandfathers within seven months of each other. Both grandmothers were extremely devastated and I remember ‘smothering” them with love in hopes of giving comfort in those days surrounding the visitation / service. They were just exhausted, and I didn’t want them to lift a finger.

Fast-forward several more years to graduation and college where I was attending Columbia State to become a registered nurse. During my second semester I lost a friend, in a horrible automobile accident, and was able to help her mother during the loss and funeral. These horrible minutes, weeks and months after her death molded my life. I found my purpose in life and it was to serve the community and people I love. I was able to come to Williams Funeral Home hoping for an interview, and they gave me that chance. Now that nursing school was out the window they guided me into Mortuary School.

Here we are 5 years later and I am now a licensed funeral director and crematory operator. Often, I have people ask me, “How did this happen and why do you work at a funeral home” They speak like its something that happens to the unfortunate, but to me there is no where I would rather be. I love serving the families placed before me.

 

 

 

481592_10151146776566074_1628017453_nKerry in Glasses

 

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Why we do what we do…

Being only 29, and having been a licensed funeral director for the last 5 or 6 years, it is more than common to have someone ask (with an odd look) why did you choose this, after telling them what I do for a living. Each and every funeral director has a story on why we do what we do. We started this blog in hopes to shed light on what we do, and why we do it. To answer some questions that people have or misconceptions. We also hope simply to tell our stories, the ones about hope and the ones where we were given such grand opportunities to help someone in need.

Here we will share our stories…and we hope by doing so you will learn that it is indeed not a dismal trade but rather a blessed one. One we are grateful for each day.   Ask us questions….meet our staff…hear our stories…yes we are funeral directors, morticians, undertakers. Whatever you want to choose to call it,  we choose Williams Funeral Home as our home so we will share parts of our lives, and hopefully just some good info as we are Undertaking Williams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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