There are no real surprises in this story. Fiona becomes increasingly forgetful, stops recognizing her husband, attaches herself to another resident. Grant is miserable, visits Fiona often, becomes lonely, seeks the advice of a nurse with a heart of gold. She tells him that Fiona may yet have some lucid periods, but that he shouldn’t get his hopes up because they won’t last. And indeed that’s precisely what happens in the end; but because of heart-of-gold’s warning, Grant doesn’t take even a moment’s break from his misery.
And there you have it: another beautifully filmed tear-jerker delivering a clear message of hopelessness.
Which is pretty much the message most critically acclaimed American movies, novels, and TV shows have been delivering for the last 50+ years. No wonder there’s so much despair in our culture today.
But get this: one doesn’t encounter much of this relentless gloom at nursing homes. Sure, there’s day-to-day unhappiness over the kids’ failure to visit or an aide being disrespectful, and certainly those with unrelenting pain or severe disabilities are far from delighted with their current circumstances.
But there’s a huge difference: Even through such suffering, many – perhaps most – of today’s nursing home residents are leaning on the everlasting arms of God. They are resting in the certainty that, no matter how bad things get in this life, the best is yet to come. And the older they are, the more certain they are that heaven will be their next stop, their home forevermore.
Sadly, this is beginning to change, as people who came of age in the post-war years check in to long-term care. There seems to be less assurance of heaven, less faith in God’s love for them, less confidence that they will ever escape from the downward slide their bodies have taken. Astoundingly, there also seems to be less interest in hearing evidences for happily ever aftering.
There are no doubt many reasons for this growing agnosticism among the newly elderly. But I think we can put a lot of the blame on Hollywood, and on our lack of discernment in the face of attractive actors, heart-wrenching story lines and lavish cinematography.
The solution? At the very least, we should take the time to analyze the messages that we’re being fed by the entertainment industry – and to reject anything that’s simply emotional, unprovable or an outright lie.
Then we should give God equal time to make His case for forever, via the Bible, sound teaching, and fellowship with born-again believers. Because here’s the truth: No one has to end his life like Grant and Fiona did, in hopelessness and despair. For anyone willing to repent and trust in Christ, the best really is yet to come.