Collateral Beauty

Thoughts on loss, letting go and meddlesome people.

Picture via my personal photos in Rock Hill, SC.

I watched the movie Collateral Beauty recently and I actually enjoyed it. The movie was about loss, grieving and heartache. I didn’t know what to expect but as I watched it-it was different. The reviews online did not help either.

I think if you haven’t experienced loss or the grieving process you won’t understand the premise of the movie. Loss and the grieving process is hard to tackle. Some people don’t know how to talk about things or offer a hand when something bad happens.

As the movie begins the main character, Howard played by Will Smith, starts off with a lecture asking the question “What is your why?” To some, this is just a question but to others it’s motivation. To know why you do something is always important. What’s driving your actions, your desires, or your thoughts.

During his lecture, he gives what he calls three “abstracts” or points that improve and connect every life:

  • Love
  • Time
  • Death

His point was that we all long for love, we all wish we had more time and we all fear death. Fast forward a few years, he experiences a traumatic loss and it changes him. His character starts to act like a zombie. He goes to work, he goes home and he doesn’t have the same drive for life.

As interesting as it may seem, his colleagues express concern but all they do is stand around and watch him. They hire people to follow him around and make sure that he is ok. This leads to the discovery that he’s been writing letters addressed to his three abstracts. His colleagues devise a plan to use his own lecture against him to attempt to get him back to himself. The plot was cruel on so many levels.

The worst thing you can do to someone who is grieving is make them feel like they are crazy. Some people take longer than others to heal from traumatic incidents. Some people don’t want to acknowledge their loss. Some people just want to move on and not be reminded of the past.

Howard’s colleagues were concerned but they were insensitive. They hired actors to try to provoke him emotionally by bringing his letters to life. It was an example of situations that many deal with on a daily basis. It shines light on people who meddle in other peoples lives or manipulate situations for their own selfishness. That usually tends to do more harm than good.

Situations that involve grief and loss are sometimes best left to a professional or someone with experience in the area of loss. There was so much going on in the movie that explained some of his colleagues motives. He eventually starts to reach out for help. There was one scene towards the end of the movie, where you find a grieving mother in a hospital that brought an earlier conversation to life. I watched this scene multiple times. Each time, it all made sense. (Scenario below)

Older Character: “Are you losing somebody?”
Mother: “I’m sorry?”
Older Character: “Who are you losing?”
Mother: “My daughter.”
Older Character: “Just make sure you notice the collateral beauty.”

Instead of thinking of what or who you lost (or may be losing), look at all the good that came from the person or situation. I’ve learned that when one door closes, another opens shortly after. You may experience loss in one area but gain something in another. Never be afraid to let go. No one can go back and change the past. It’s strange how things work out, if you’ll learn to trust the timing of your life.

Hope this helps someone.


*The original post has been edited since published.

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