Real Life is not a Movie

Today I read a post by a friend who’s going through a tragedy. Her husband has cancer, she has chronic illnesses, they have four kids, some of whom have autism. She apologized for griping. You know, she wasn’t really griping. She wasn’t saying “why me?” She was just telling it like it is.

When I lost the boys, especially when I lost Innocent, I noticed that life is not like a carefully scripted movie. Even when you’re in mourning and in shock, children still have to be fed. They still bicker. The bills still have to be paid. Someone has to make sure that you don’t run out of toilet paper. Dust accumulates.

For some reason people like watching dramas. You know, like Brian’s Song, or for those of you too young to remember it, Beaches. Personally, I can’t watch movies in which someone dies. It’s not “sweet” to me. I can never rid those images from my head and those are the sanitized ones! You can imagine how horror-struck I was when I found out I had to watch Schindler’s List for a college class. (Yes, nightmares for months.)

After getting lots of those sweet, sad dramas under your belt, somehow you expect life to be just like that. When a friend or family member is dying, reality slams home. To wit:

Ways in which real life drama is not like a movie drama:

1. There is no beautiful soundtrack.
2. There are no cut-aways.
3. You can’t fast-forward.
4. People rarely make inspirational speeches. Usually they say dumb things.
5. The cast is much more messy and there are too many extras.
6. You can’t turn it off at any time and say, “what a lovely movie.”
7. No one helps you with props.
8. There are too many story-lines and they don’t interweave neatly.
9. There is a lot more vomiting in real life.
10. People avoid you rather than pay $10 to come watch. 

Don’t blame people for not being sick in a more aesthetically pleasing way. Don’t blame people who are ferrying family members to chemo for not making more inspirational speeches. Step in and pray, make meals, do errands and most of all, BE there and be understanding and accepting. No one goes to bed at night, hoping they’ll be picked to star in this kind of drama.

6 thoughts on “Real Life is not a Movie

  1. This is so true. Another difference: movies don't drag on for months and months of pain. They just cut to montage… like you said, in real life there are kids to be fed and floors to be swept, even when the world crashes down. I could have really used a beautiful soundtrack sometimes.


  2. So true. Bru talks about the “Holy Saturday” phenomenon – it's hard to wait quietly while someone goes through hell. We can handle immediate, acute grief, and we are happy to celebrate joyous occasions. It is hard to just be with someone through hard times when there isn't much you can do to help.


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