How Black Panther displays grief for people dealing with loss in personal lives

The makers depict it in a way that everyone in the room feels it, whether you have a connection to the story or not.

By Delna Mistry Anand

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Published: Thu 8 Dec 2022, 5:04 PM

“T’Challa Is Dead, But That Doesn’t Mean He’s Gone.”

Black Panther fans would recognise this line from the recently released ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’. Without giving any spoilers, these powerful words are spoken by the Queen, who herself is grieving the death of her son. One of the most poignant moments of the film, especially since we know that they’re not just mourning the loss of the character, but its actor Chadwick Boseman who lost his battle to cancer. One feels undercurrents of grief and remembrance throughout the film. Director Ryan Coogler said that honouring Chadwick this way was an immense healing process not just for the team, but for Black Panther fans across the world. The Queen’s words truly touched a chord in me, reminding me of something I was told when I was grieving, “We must honour the legacy of those who leave us.”

Black Panther displays grief in such a way that everyone in the room feels it, whether you have a connection to the story or not. Coming out of a global pandemic, many people have seen ‘loss’ at close quarters — be it loss of a loved one, loss of livelihood, loss of precious time with loved ones, or loss of innocence. And ever so often, we do not know how to even grieve this loss.

I’m no stranger to grief, and here’s a little bit of what I know:

Grief is not linear

The textbook explanation of the ‘5 Stages of Grief’ does not fit all. Grief looks different to different people. Some have angry outbursts, while some slip into a shell and some experience several emotions at once. It’s important to recognise these unfamiliar emotions, acknowledge them as a part of grieving and allow yourself to heal.

You can’t hurry grief

There is no fixed timeline, and time won’t automatically heal you. It will, however, show you how to live with the pain. The healing, you will have to work on. Acceptance (of the grief) is the first step.

Support system

Having a solid support system always helps, be it your family, friends, or a community to lean on. There are also many opportunities to reach out to professionals, if such help is needed. Normalising the process of grief is important, and necessary.

‘In their honour’

While time can’t repair the loss, it can soften the sharp edges of pain. What helps to heal your heart is living your life in honour of those who you lost. Find that purpose and let it fill your broken heart. You will find joy again, and a reason to live purposefully.

Those who left us, have left a part of themselves with us — their legacy. Carry it forward with honour.

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