Sadness & Grief

Zoe Saldana (Amy) and Kellita Smith (Lynn) in 'From Scratch' (Credit:
Care Inclusion Guide Stakes Sadness & Grief

Care isn’t inherently sad, but sometimes the circumstances are. Even so, there are many nuances to examine and it’s far from one-dimensional.

Story Sparks:

  • Gertrude experiences anticipatory grief while caring for their partner Tabitha, who has lewy body dementia. Tabitha feels a sense of loss for the future she wanted to have with Gertrude.
  • Having cared for her mother Clementine through most of her 20s, Josefina opens up to her friends over brunch about the sadness she feels about missing out on some aspects of her “youth.” Her friends admit they envy the closeness Josefina has with her mother.
  • Indira has an autoimmune condition and is so grateful to have her son Mohan care for her, but sometimes she notices what he gives up in order to do so. Even though he’s happy and doesn’t complain, it makes her feel sad. She encourages him to pursue his new rock collecting hobby.
  • Jirō’s great grandparents built their parent’s home. They grew up there. But now, with their parents’ retirement account dwindling, the only way to continue affording the care they need is to sell the house that held their families most precious memories. Placing their parents in an assisted living facility does not feel like much of a choice.


While many complex and valid emotions can accompany care, stories that put too much emphasis on how the caregiver feels about what’s happening to someone else can inadvertently reinforce ableist and ageist thinking. Besides, giving all characters agency and their own emotional arcs makes for more engaging storytelling.

A quick note: scenarios described here are generalized from information that Caring Across Generations has collected through focus groups, polling, and other research. They are generalized scenarios and are not any one individual’s story, and they are not meant to be comprehensive of all experiences having to do with care. This resource is intended to illuminate new storytelling opportunities that also contribute to a more authentic and holistic representation of care on screen.