Short Film Review: “Turut Berduka Cita”, People Who Grieve Just Want to Grieve

Posted on 8 May, 2021

Indonesian (original) version, click here.

Written by Meylisa Sahan – AIYA Member
Translated by Lotte Troost – AIYA National Content Translator 
Edited by Dinda Ichsani – AIYA National Blog Editor

Cover illustration adapted by Indonesian short film “Turut Berduka Cita”. (credits: Candra – AIYA National Graphic Designer)

Click here to watch the film.

At least once in our lives, we have all visited the home of a relative who is grieving the loss of a family member. A crowd of people express their condolences and come with dark clothing as a symbol of mourning. At each corner outside the funeral home, one can find multiple bouquets with various phrases, and it feels like direct communication is incomplete without flowers. This situation depicts the ideal version of visiting a funeral home.

Turut Berduka Cita is one of the simply arranged films but has a strong moral message concerning the loss of someone. So far, when watching a film that tells the story of being “left behind,” it will depict the main character bursting into tears, locking him/herself up, being depressed and passive. Meanwhile in this film, Maria, who feels a deep sorrow because of the loss of her father, is portrayed differently. She is portrayed as a strong, tough, and sincere person in this situation as if Maria were prepared for it. The calm way she tells each visitor the same story about the seconds before her father died, proves this. It is always the same story, starting from his cough and shortness of breath, being given medicine that was put under the tongue, brought to the hospital, still asking whether Maria had taken a shower or not, eating chicken noodles from Mr. Agus’ restaurant until the moment he died at midnight. It looks like Maria is giving a press briefing.

What can we learn from Maria’s story? The answer is empathy. We do not see the sense of empathy in this film, not even after the first second of the beginning of the film. The reactions of each griever further reinforced this. They compared the first treatment with one another, accusing that the medications given by the doctor are not good enough because of the numerous chemicals, as if the efforts made by Maria’s family had been in vain, and then they discussed the matter of the deceased’s diet. The most annoying was a woman who came to mourn and said “he already suffered too much, perhaps this is all for the best”- which doesn’t need to be said to people who have just lost someone. 

As reported by klikdokter.com, the phrase “It’s God’s Way” (Sudah Jalan Tuhan) is one of several phrases that are not very appropriate to pass on in the funeral home. Well, simply everyone wants to continue being with their family, and if possible, they ask for God’s way to be made easier to stay together, right? From this article, I concluded that there are still many people out there who need to be explained and informed about what to do and what not to do when going to a funeral home. We must still remember mourning as if death does not guarantee that one will escape the sight of others. Whenever a mourning event occurs, I always inwardly shout “be sensitive!”- taking a picture with someone who is grieving is the most disrespectful thing I can think of; what is the essence? 

 This film carries a simple mission, on the habits of our society in coming to funeral homes, from the past until today. It portrays a habit that persists and is practiced without being aware of it. People who grieve just want to grieve; they don’t want to tell the story of death over and over again because it’s painful, not to mention the responses they receive instead seem to be belittling. Because she was questioned so often, Maria was even confused when facing a man who came and told her about the kindness of her father while broke out in tears. This is what people should have done earlier, other than crying, at least focus on discussing the kindness of the deceased or at best ask nothing. 

 I genuinely enjoyed this short film; even forever, it will become my criterion for taking care of my words and my behaviour when visiting a funeral home. The strength of the dialogue has again become the essential thing in this film, not exploring the camera angles that much, but the changing actors and the ever-changing responses are the key points from the whole story in this film.

 One day, if you are grieving, make sure you come, express your sorrow, and go home.