09/19/2014 11:42 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Jane Fonda Sits Shiva


This weekend an A-List cast stars in the hilarious and touching movie, This Is Where I Leave You. It's based on the bestselling book by Jonathan Tropper about Shiva.

What's Shiva?

Shiva is the beautiful Jewish tradition of family and friends coming together for seven days to mourn a loved one's passing.

Shiva is about love, life and loss - as is this movie.

The movie begins with Jane Fonda's character announcing to her grown children that their father's dying wish was that the family, "Sit Shiva!" She is very clear, "It's going to be hard. We're going to get on each other's nerves".

So four grown siblings, Jason Bateman ("Arrested Development"), Tina Fey ("30 Rock"), Adam Driver ("Girls" and the new "Star Wars") and Corey Stoll ("House of Cards") are forced to return to their childhood home and live under one roof for a week, along with their over-sharing mother.

Confronting their history and the frayed states of their relationships alongside people from their past, they ultimately reconnect to what's most important. Yep, that's Shiva.

The movie about stopping your day to day life for a full week - forcing people to pause and reflect on aspects of their life they have shoved under the table for years. For Jason Bateman's character, it's a looming divorce. For Tina Fey's character, it's a lost love. For Jane Fonda's character, it's about relationships lost and found.

This movie is about coming together, love, acceptance and new beginnings. That's a beautiful element of Shiva. Shiva can bring a family closer, as movie shows, but sometimes you have to go through some family craziness to get to the other side.

If you're thinking, "who wants to see a movie about grief?" Don't worry - there's plenty a calamity and humor in the movie.

For me, this movie begs the question - does Shiva have a place in our modern world? Are we willing to devote more than a day to mourning and moving forward?

The answer is yes. We all need to hit the pause button and come together for our own sake and for the sake of the people we love after a loss.

Here's the bottom line - people who grieve well, live well.

As someone who's working grief for decades, I've never met anyone who regretted taking the time to grieve. The problems come when people don't take the time to grieve.

In our modern world, talking about loss often doesn't have a time or place except for at the funeral. We feel pressure to get back to our job, our commitments, and the daily grind. We often deny the feelings and pretend they don't exist. That doesn't work. Ever heard the saying - pay now or pay later? That applies in grief.

Maybe if practiced the concept of Shiva more, we would live better.

You don't have to be Jewish to practice this basic idea of togetherness in loss. A couple hours at a funeral are not enough to grieve. Whether we admit it or not, we need more time - time to examine the loss, our family, our life and how we move forward. It's not always easy, but it's beautiful and it's worth it. Right Jane?