What Arrival knows about tragic loss

If something tragic happens to you or someone you love, would you erase their lives entirely to spare them or yourself the pain of that experience? For most who have loved, the answer is probably no. What if that person took their own life?

If you experience loss, part of grief is the constant flashbacks or thoughts that can come as droplets or a flood of emotions at any moment, triggered by anything — similar to what is visually shown in the film. That vivid but also vague and haunting feeling and imagery is painful and beautiful at the same time. It’s hard to know if such a complex feeling is worth giving up, which is why not having the choice to do so after it happens is such a gift.

It’s hard to know if I would do if I had the choice that was given in the film. But I would probably choose the same. It’s more impossible to fathom or desire a life without the love of someone so important, than it is to fathom living a life that never included them at all. Either way, it’s a loss.

The topic is explored in other films, like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or Memento, but the depth of emotional resonance hit me harder this time. Perhaps it is the strength of the female lead’s performance, or the connection of something so deeply personal to a broader global context. I’m honestly not sure. But I felt something I hadn’t seen written about yet, and so felt like sharing.