How Pollyanna Helped Me Through My Father’s Death

“Giving grief a voice, holding memories close, and getting outside support would all become essential components in the twisting and uphill climb.”

Silver Screen Collection / Contributor/ Getty Images
Silver Screen Collection / Contributor/ Getty Images

Movies stir the soul in a way that seeps into our bodies. They move us to learn, change and grow in ways that are different from any other medium.

I imagine that we each carry with us the memory of a childhood movie that reached right in to take hold of our heart.

The first movie that seemed to melt into my very essence was “Pollyanna,” starring Hayley Mills. I was only 5 years old when the movie came out, but somehow I just knew there was something different about this little girl.

Disney’s take on this 1913 children’s classic novel of the same title was mesmerizing and enchanting.

Pollyanna had such strength of character and a remarkable ability to find the positive. She also had sincere goodness in every adverse situation.

When, at the age of 10, it was my time to face adversity, I turned to what I had learned from Pollyanna, as I would begin the long and winding journey through grieving the death of my dad.

I yearned to be Pollyanna, and find that same inner strength to carry me through what would prove to be difficult and challenging years. I remember thinking to myself, “If I could just be positive and loving and good, like Pollyanna, I will be okay.”

What I would learn in the ensuing years is that being a “Pollyanna” (a person who finds optimism even in the worst of circumstances) was only part of what would lead me to develop a healthy resilience.

Giving grief a voice, holding memories close and getting outside support would all become essential components in the twisting and uphill climb.

Grief calls upon us to find the courage to move forward, in ways we might never have imagined.

For that reason, I have never forgotten the long-ago and far-away movie of my youth, and the magical charm that would be found in one single name… Pollyanna.

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