I've been pretty tuned in lately to the subject of grief being tackled on TV. Both "reality" shows and scripted television. Two instances in particular really resonated with me and I wanted to "talk" about them with someone, so I figured, why not here?
The first was a few weeks ago on Dancing with the Stars. I mentioned a small point briefly on my Facebook page, but there was so much more in the episode that struck me. The "stars" were dancing about their most memorable years. And for each dance there was a package presented where the celebrities discussed why their year was so significant. I was most struck by Nancy Kerrigan's story about her journey to motherhood. She was so candid in her interviews, explaining her desire for a large family, and how in getting there she experienced 6 miscarriages in 8 years. Her emotions were raw as she talked about feeling like a failure. Grieving each loss with the belief that she was failing. But hers wasn't the only story that touched me. Dance after dance the stars revealed intimate details about their lives. Their struggles. Life-threatening injuries. Life-changing decisions. Battles with illness. It should have been so depressing. But I watched each one and noticed a trend. None of these people were defeated by the turmoil, the struggles, the hardships. Each story had some kind of triumph. Maybe not a perfect, happy-ending. But they were all able to find some light and hold on to that.
I walked away from my TV that evening thinking about the human experience. I know there are some people fortunate enough to have never been touched by particularly rough roads. But for as many who haven't, there are those who have. But the thing about the human experience is that we can be beat down by life, but it's in those ways that we rise that there is so much beauty.
About a week later I was catching up on another guilty-pleasure show, Jane the Virgin.
The show is now taking place 3 years after Jane's husband, Michael, died suddenly of complications from a gun shot wound. Jane has been struggling with talking openly about her life and experiences with Michael, when her grandmother, who also survived the death of her own husband, gives her some advice. (Which I'll now paraphrase)...
She basically explains that the more Jane talks about Michael, the easier it'll be. Which will be hard in it's own way. She says that Jane is now in a long-term-relationship with grief.
YES! I nodded emphatically at my television that day.
Bear with me for a moment while I act like a fictional character is real. But for 3 years she's been working on things. Living her life -- fully, I might add. But always struggling with her great loss. And then to hear it described so perfectly. Sigh. It was perfect. A relief to see grief explained and explored in a way I feel I've been going through it.
Because here I am. Nearing 2 years, and definitely feeling on the other side of the true darkness. But then simultaneously feeling a whole new sense of hardship because of that. Yes, definitely a long-term relationship. Complicated. Yes. But I'm finally starting to understand it.
Who said TV is a bad thing? Sometimes seeing a semblance of your own experience reflected back at you from the television can give you a lot of clarity.