Dory’s Purple Shells – An Encouraging Message for Protective Mothers

“Finding Dory” (2016, Pixar) is a touching animated movie about a fish named Dory who gets separated from her parents at a young age, and goes on a journey in search of them. Guiding Dory are the memories she has held onto all of her life. Since Dory suffers from “short term remembery loss” she is guided by only glimpses of her past, and along with it, the sense of home, and feeling of belonging.

Years pass. Dory meets new friends, including a quirky fish named Nemo, that become like family. One day, Dory’s memory gets triggered, and she is compelled to find her lost family.When Dory was young, her parents set out a trail of purple shells to teach her how to find her way back home, she follows it.  So Dory sets off on an epic journey to find her parents.

Dory’s parents spent years forming trails for her to follow – up and down valleys, across distances and through the dark currents of the ocean, in the hopes that she would eventually find them.

“Finding Dory” offers a powerful message for Protective Mothers separated from their children that is familiar to those who have experienced this particular kind of pain, grief and loss.  

And for children separated from their mothers, what Dory felt may also be familiar – missing family, fear of rejection and the emotional experience of trying to piece together memories.

The purple shells are what connect Dory to her parents, and trigger the memories that eventually lead her home. The tiny shells are unremarkable in the vastness of the ocean. At times the sandy floor washes over them, and they disappear. But Dory is not alone, with the support of her friends, she finds her way.

What are your purple shells? Each parent and child has something special or shares something that links them together. It could be a physical or emotional reminder. A trinket, photograph, a prayer or special song, a drawing or toy etc

You can also create “purple shells” to honor your parent/child or to preserve special memories. Some ideas: scrap booking, releasing balloons on special occasions, lighting a candle, spiritual celebration, talking with friends/family, writing a letter etc.

Create a Path in the ways you can. Find creative ways to connect to or reach out to your parent/child if possible. Use your shells to bridge the distance. Seek support to help cope with the loss or grief.

Another message in “Finding Dory” is that Dory, and her parents, never gave up hope. The love they have for each other is unconditional. For those mothers/children who are estranged from each other, and have no contact or communication, there is a value in hope. And value in holding onto the love you share. Through love, we maintain our “purple shells”, our connection to our family – and it does not diminish with time or distance.

Also, when Dory was separated from her parents she found other ways to express her energy and love, and was able to channel her loss in a positive direction. You see that especially in her unique optimism, and her loyalty to friends. Though a loss of a parent/child can never be replaced, we can channel the expression of our love, and what that person meant to us, in other areas of our life. Or use that love to make a positive difference in the world. Some ideas: volunteer, be a friend, participate in community groups/activities, do something in memory of your loved one, fight for a cause, raise awareness, join a prayer chain etc

Final message – Never give up!

~ EJ, 2016.

Another Perspective:  

Mother, Carrie Goldman, shares her thoughts after watching “Finding Dory” with her family. Carrie’s teen daughter was profoundly moved by the movie. Carrie shares insights from her perspective of “Finding Dory” and on her daughter’s reaction to it. Finding Dory: Why It Made My Seventh Grader Cry by Carrie Goldman