Archive for the ‘Analyze That’ Category


Grieve This: The Funny Side of Loss

November 14, 2008

This won't hurt a bit


Just when I’m fed up with all of the crying, anger, and sadness associated with the stages of grief I’m reminded of a movie that continues to help me ease through the transition of loss and gives me more than a few chuckles along the way. 

Analyze That (2001), the sequel to Analyze This (1999), is director Harold Ramis’ take on the comedic side of the gritty underworld of organized crime.  In this flick Billy Crystal is Dr. Issac Sobel, a psychiatrist who is given custody of the imprisoned, former New York crime boss Paul Vitti (Robert DeNiro).  The FBI certifies Sobel as a temporary federal institution in hopes that Vitti will keep tabs on his former associates’ organizations and testify against them in exchange for an early parole.  Hilarity ensues when the newly-released Vitti brings his womanizing and foul-mouthed bravado into Sobel’s home, enters the legitimate work force for the first time, and struggles to suppress his urges to give a knuckle-sandwich to those who rub him the wrong way.

The funniest scenes in the movie take place when Sobel, grieving the recent loss of his father, becomes entangled in Vitti’s mob dealings and is forced to break from his straight-laced character and get scrappy with the bad guys.  Throughout the movie he frequently states, “I’m grieving. It’s a process” and breaks into sudden crying fits during moments when bullets are whizzing by his ear and even while pummeling a henchman in the face.  In these moments he is very present  with his grief, allowing himself the space to cry no matter how inappropriate the environment.  Likewise, Vitti who is also grieving the loss of his father, breaks from his tough guy persona to show emotion as well. 

The first time I saw Analyze This and Analyze That I instantly fell in love with both films and chalked them up as proof that Robert DeNiro could be as equally comedic as thuggish in his movies.  I’d always had a strange obsession with quoting movie lines and incorporating them into my everyday talk with my friends and family.  For a long time “Why do you say this to me when you know I will kill you for it?” (a la Superman 2) was a household favorite but that’s neither here nor there.  The first time I saw Analyze That I had no idea how therapeutic those four words, “I’m grieving.  It’s a process” would become in my life.  It is my mantra and my way of telling folks, “Look.  I’m going through something right now and you couldn’t possibly understand what it feels like on the inside.”  Sometimes I cry so unexpectedly that my friends and family simply give me a nod of acknowledgment and let me be.  Thanks.

Grief sucks.  When loss occurs there is no way to avoid the inevitable stages of denial, isolation, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance.  These stages are in no way linear and the emotional suffering and stress can at times feel like riding a roller coaster with inadequate seating restraints.  The only way that one can recover from the process in a balanced way is to feel the feeling, seek outside support from family, friends, and professionals, and practice excellent self-care techniques.  It’s that simple and yet that hard.  Be well.