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As humans we grieve the loss of anything that feels important to us. For children this could be anything from losing a loved one to losing a favorite sweater at school or the loss of their favorite Marvel character.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is one of the most anticipated movies in Marvel's phase 4. With its release scheduled for November 11, 2022, the world will finally get a chance to return to Wakanda, the planet's most technologically advanced nation. And director Ryan Coogler ensured that while Black Panther 2 is packed with tons of action, the movie explores a central theme that is sure to spark conversation with your kids: grief. 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.
Reeling from a pandemic in real life and the "loss" of time for many, as well as the exploration of grief in one of their favorite Marvel films, can feel like a lot to some children and families. There are several points that are extremely important to explain before (or after) watching the movie.
Grief is Not Linear
Not everyone will grieve the same. Everyone processes in a different way, and on their own timeline, and that is perfectly fine. It is also completely normal to experience more than one emotion during the process. This becomes apparent in the movie as it shows the different ways the characters deal with the death of T'Challa. Nate Moore, the film's producer, spoke to this point during a press conference saying, "I think, as storytellers, you just wanna be as honest as possible with what the characters would experience in the film after they experience the loss of T'Challa. And that is not just grief." Moore described feelings of joy, humor, and any emotion produced by profound loss.
"But we had such a collection of talent and such a collection of characters, who all have a different point of view with that loss, that I think Ryan found ways to express all the different colors of grief through the ensemble. And that's not just the Wakandans, by the way, who definitely feel it, but it's the loss that Namor and the Talokan feel because of the loss of their homeland," said Moore.
Having a Support System Makes a Difference
Whether you lean on family, community, or therapy, having support through your grief is important. It can mean the difference between being "chaotic" as Lupita Nyon'o jokingly referred to the film's character Shuri as, or working through your feelings in a healthy way.
One positive that came out of the pandemic is the availability of online resources for therapy and counseling. Resources such as the online counseling provider Talkspace can provide a safe space for you to talk through your feelings without leaving the comfort of your home. Normalizing all of the feelings associated with grief can also help to make your children more comfortable with discussing their emotions. A little bit of empathy can go a long way.
Grieving Is Not Only a Process To Mourn Lost Loved Ones
As humans we grieve the loss of anything that feels important to us. For children this could be anything from losing a loved one to losing a favorite sweater at school. During the pandemic, many people felt the loss of person to person interaction and also the loss of time. Reminding our children that grief and death, while closely related, are not synonymous is important. The movie explores the Wakandans' loss of T'Challa and the Talokans' loss of their homeland. Namor, the film's main antagonist, is also grieving in a few different ways.
You Will Come Out on the Other Side
While you will always remember the loss, sadness lessens over time. Memories can be a beautiful path to explore the feelings you felt before your loss. And again, while everyone will go through the stages of grief at their own pace, you can look forward to knowing joy does return.
So while Wakanda Forever is action packed and full of moments that will make you laugh, it definitely opens up the opportunity for parents to have a meaningful conversation with their children. Keep all these things in mind as you head to the theater this weekend.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever opens in U.S. theaters November 11, 2022.