Photo credit: NBC Studios
Remember when Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James was released? Women in bookclubs everywhere were openly talking about passionate sex and deep desires. It catapulted a formerly taboo topic into everyday conversations. That’s exactly what the television series ‘This is Us’ has done with grief.
Grief isn’t sexy. Most people aren’t sure what to do with it. The emotions of the grief rollercoaster are avoided by non-grievers like the current flu outbreak. Don’t go there. Don’t touch it. Since the release of ‘This is Us’ created by Dan Fogelman and aired on NBC in September of 2016, suddenly grief is out there, on the mainstage, being texted and talked about everywhere. What makes this so great for the grieving community?
The writers have done an outstanding job delving deeply into the emotions of grief and peeling back the layers. Grievers have posted and commented that not everything in the show parallels reality. Yes, this may be true. But we could all agree the 60-minute episode manages to get viewers that span multiple age brackets, to not only identify with the characters, but to stop, think and feel the grief.
Suddenly, there is empathy for the widow that has lost the man that loved her so deeply, validation of the sheer pain felt by those that have watched a loved one overcome by illness and understanding for children who lose a parent and are forever scarred by the loss. ‘This Is Us’ creatively underscores that grief is different for everyone through Kate’s battle with guilt, Kevin’s need to escape, and Randall’s anxiety.
And then, there is that scene when Rebecca sees Jack in the bed and is unable to physically process he’s gone but has to pull herself together to tell her three children that he won’t be coming back. As I sat there in tears watching and vividly reliving my own reality, I thought to myself, “Bravo.” Maybe, through this, grief will not be so misunderstood.
So let’s focus on the big picture and not the minute details in the depiction. This show has put a spotlight on grief and has made it socially acceptable to talk about love, loss and pain. For the currently bereaved and those that inevitably will encounter grief in the future, grief chatter means others understand and we are not alone.
Kim Libertini is an avid coffee drinker all too familiar with grief and the Co-Founder of Goodgrief App, the social network for loss available for less than a latte, for download in the App Store, Google Play and www.goodgriefapp.com. You can follow Goodgrief App on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.