I watched the movie, "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," last night and I thought it was an excellent movie. I really liked how it sensitively covered the topics of suicide and disability.
One of the girls is dealing with the death of her mother by suicide and it is refreshing in that the movie did not glamorize her death or horrify it. I have had several friends kill themselves and consequently, I can be really triggered by talk or images of suicide, but this movie does not talk about how the mother killed herself at all and it did not show any images of the death either. I have found that when someone kills or tries to kill herself people usually want to know the how, which always annoys me, because the how is not important. What is important is not the specifics, but the fact that it happened at all and how you are going to deal with it. I think people want to know how it happened, so that they do not have to deal with the awful feelings that are left in the person's place. More important questions, though are "How am I feeling?" and "How can I help someone else in the future?"
Another girl in the movie becomes friends with a twelve year old girl who is struggling with leukemia. In her story, we learn the value of honesty. At first, the twelve year old does not want the older girl to know about her illness, because she is afraid that she will be pitied. There is almost nothing worse than pity. When the older girl, Tibby, finds out, she is at first awkward around the girl and instead of treating her like she used to, which was like a pest, she is kind out of pity. The younger girl asks her straight out if she is being nicer, because of new knowledge about her illness and Tibby answers yes. Tibby knew that that was not the answer the other girl wanted to hear, but she was honest anyway. The sickly girl thought about what her response should be and after a moment, decided that the truth was good enough for her and continued hanging out with Tibby. Many times when around someone with a disability, there is awkwardness and that is okay. Tibby did not know what the right thing to say was and in the movie, just like in real life, that is okay too. Right now I am reading a book called, "Jesus Freak: feeding, healing, raising the dead" by Sara Miles and in the part about healing, the author describes that in her healing ministry people are expected to simply sit with those who are in pain-not to fix them. It is harder to sit with somebody, instead of trying to make everything perfect, but sharing someone's pain and being for them even if you do not have the right words to say is still incredibly healing. It heals the soul and the spirit.
I was pleasantly surprised at how well done "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" is and I heartily recommend it. Even more, I invite you to be honest with yourself and with others when in similar situations. Do not glorify or horrify death when it strikes other people, but simply be there for them. Be open to awkwardness. Be open to a different kind of healing.