On Grief and Afternoon TV

Dealing with grief on afternoon television is not something that you normally think of.  Or perhaps want to read about.  But, I have been touched by some recent story lines on the ABC soap, General Hospital, that have dealt with the deaths of a few beloved characters.

I am a long-time fan of this show that has had stories about cancer, AIDS, the Nurses Ball, the mob, and family dynamics.  They have also had some stories of freezing the Earth, crazy capers and adventures, and memory mapping.  It is entertaining and something I enjoy tuning into.

Several characters have died recently and the ramifications are being felt in a variety of ways by those left mourning their loss.  Oddly enough, a few of the shows have helped me and are nice to cry with.  Despite being make-believe, it has helped me tap into my own feelings.  That may be odd, but hey, you cope with grief and loss the best you can.  Right?

A teenager named Oscar died of a brain tumor, a nursing student named Kikki was murdered, and a baby named Jonah was stillborn (or so the family thinks).  These are recent deaths and there have been many others.  A bit crazy at times, but they have had ripple effects on the canvas of the characters.

One story line included the first day of school for Oscar’s girlfriend and friends.  It was the first day back since his death and has been hard on everyone, as you can imagine.  Joss was his girlfriend; they were each other’s first loves.  Joss is a 16 year old who plays sports and does well in school.  She went to school but then left and skipped for most of the day.  She went to Oscar’s Meadow, a park in his honor, and talked with her brother Michael, who was Jonah’s father.

While at school, Joss felt guilty for going to her locker a few times during the day without thinking of Oscar.  She felt bad for trying to move on and shared that it meant she no longer loved Oscar.  Michael told her it is okay to have good times and that Oscar would want her to.  Also, that she shouldn’t beat herself up about it.

Michael asked Joss if she wished there was a checklist of how to deal with grief to help get through it?  She said, yes.  Michael explained that grief takes a long time, often much longer than you’d expect.  And, he explained that memories can pop up at any time.

Regarding Jonah, Michael told Joss that he was overwhelmed thinking about something he’d never get to do with his son.  He was saddened that his son died prior to him sharing special times with him and day to day life.  It spoke volumes for all those who have lost children without ever knowing them.

Oscar’s mother Kim is having another problem.  She thinks moving to another city will help with her grief and painful loss of her son.  She seems hopeful that running away from where she lived with her son will help.  Clearly that grief is with you no matter where you are, but her character doesn’t seem to get that.

As hard as all of this is, feelings must be felt and learned from in order for there to be healing.  As much as we may want to, we cannot run away from them.  At least not for very long since they are often there.

And, Kikki’s mother Ava is trying to deal with it in another way.  She and her daughter were estranged before the death.  So, she has a lot of guilt and is trying some crazy ways to communicate with her daughter thinking it will help.  And, of course, it isn’t.  So she remains in pain and in guilt.

So what can one learn from all of this?  It is important to remember that grief can hit you in waves at any time and when you least expect.  Some days and weeks are easier than others.  And some are painful, or bring up memories, or a specific time on the calendar with that loved one.

Also important is what my friend Gordon used to say, don’t be a grave hugger.  In other words, don’t have regrets with your loved ones.  Remember the last thing you say to someone could in fact be the last thing ever said.  So, let’s be careful with our words and our feelings.

If you have guilt, ask for forgiveness, pray, and try to forgive yourself.   I am working on some of that right now and it is challenging but important for healing.  The doubts and questions come up frequently and can be frustrating.

Also, there is no checklist to complete to be finished with grief. There is no right way to heal from such a loss.  There are several stages but many of them happen together or can repeat themselves. There is no line from A to B that helps heal the pain and loss.  And, that can be hard to take.

Running away from the pain also can be a short-term fix but ultimately doesn’t help to process and deal with the loss.  In fact, many people will tell those grieving to not make big changes within the first year.  So selling everything and running off somewhere may sound tempting but cannot hold off that pain forever.

Each loss is different, each person dealing with the loss is different, and each healing journey is different.   May we give ourselves permission to feel what we need to, while striving to move forward.

May we remember it is okay to be happy despite our pain and loss.  I think our loved ones wouldn’t want us to stop living but instead live in their honor and memory.

May we be there for each other and let each other know that we care.  May we not judge someone dealing with a loss but instead offer our support and step up as we can.  And, may we always, always love.

(Note: all of the images in today’s blog are from Power Point Clip art).

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