Minny9 Posted February 12, 2021 Share Posted February 12, 2021 After many months of forced solitude due to COVID, I'm sure most of us have spent a lot more of our time in front of the TV. And though there are countless other activities I try to or should pursue, I suppose this post is just my way of justifying at least some of the time I spend watching TV (which includes steaming media, as well). While I'm inclined to watch sports ahead of anything else, I admit to having a couple other guilty pleasures: travel shows, and those movies or TV shows depicting loss and widowhood. Before listing any specific shows or movies I have watched recently, here are a few thoughts about the subject matter I find I am drawn to, and what things I find helpful or irritating about how loss and widowhood before the age of 50 is depicted... 1.) Travel I lost my wife, Rhonda, in December, 2016, when we were both 49. We had no children, and were together for 23 years (married for 19). I am forever grateful for the experiences we had travelling together prior to her cancer diagnosis 8 months before she died. She was the more adventurous of the two of us, and in her life she was able to visit many more places than I have. In my reluctance, and in my stead, she was usually able to convince her sister or a friend to join her to the "exotic" places I had no interest in myself. But we did our share of travel together, mostly to Europe, and we always had ongoing discussions about where we should go next. This obviously explains my predilection for travel shows, particularly those about cities or countries we had visited together - Scotland (where we had been 5 times), England, Sweden, Latvia, and Italy, most notably. It was not always understood by me, but I know full well now why Rhonda loved to travel. Away from the stresses of work and life at home, nothing replaces the experiences shared and the discoveries afforded by visiting somewhere so different from what you know. And it's the "shared" part that is so bittersweet now... and the reason I seek out shows or YouTube channels about places we had been. It helps keep those memories vivid in my mind since the ability to relive them with my wife isn't possible. And let's be honest, no one else will ever be able to fully appreciate what Rhonda and I experienced together - it's a fact of life when you lose your best friend and the person you are most intimate with. Besides, we lived these experiences together for ourselves, not for anyone else. I can't have it both ways, nor would I have wanted to. It's what helped us define "us"... 2.) Widowhood There are a few different reasons why I have been watching (or re-watching) shows that are about losing a wife and/or living life now as a widower. Some come from the fact I don't have anyone in my immediate family, or among my peer group of friends and former co-workers, who has lost a spouse and can talk on a personal level about their experience. Again, it's something only understood by someone who has been there. I suppose there is also some deep-seated need for me to know that what I'm facing isn't a singular experience. The isolation and loss of social interaction forced on all of us because of COVID probably hasn't helped, either! Still, seeing representations on screen of others who are going through, or have survived, the experience of losing a wife has helped me to measure how real or unreal my expectations are for what my life as a widower can, should, or shouldn't be like. To generalize, I have found that while many shows attempt honest depictions, many others are just stupid. It's a difficult subject to begin with, so I can understand why many shows dance around the reality of loss, and far fewer try to depict a more realistic balance of all the emotions of love, pain, hopefulness and grief. And I get it. We all want a happy ending, or at the very least a hopeful one (i.e. every Hallmark Christmas movie about the young widow/er who finds love again during the holidays). The problem is that grief and loss and loneliness and sorrow aren't typically subjects that sell advertising or ticket sales. But I am inspired by those who write and produce shows that try to portray this reality, regardless. I do wonder who else, other than the widowed, that the producers have targeted as their audience. I recently watched an episode of a Netflix show with my Dad that I thought really captured some of what I have experienced in loss, and his only reaction was to ask me why I would want to watch this. Again, it's lost on someone who hasn't had the same experience... 3.) The Shows I won't go into detail about each show, other than to say in a few words what I appreciate about each one (if anything). This isn't a comprehensive list, just a sampling of what I've watched myself. "After Life" (Netflix) - probably the show that has hit me the hardest. The couple has no children and were each other's lives completely. My experience exactly. This excellent compilation of scenes never fails to get to me (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYe9RsR0WIM). If you can get past Ricky Gervais' sarcasm and crudeness, there are many moments of sentimentality and genuine pain that are as real as anything else I've seen. "Shadowlands" (1993 movie starring Anthony Hopkins & Debra Winger, based on the life of author C.S. Lewis who lost his new wife to cancer at age 45) - Lewis' memoir about his experiences, "A Grief Observed", is probably very familiar to many of you. "Wit" (2001 movie starring Emma Thompson about an English Professor who at age 48 is diagnosed with cancer and undergoes 8 months of treatments before dying) - a movie that is told solely from the perspective of Emma Thompson's character, it gives incredible insight into what learning you are dying is like. My wife was also 48 when she was diagnosed with cancer, and the woman's reluctance to share her fears and emotions with anyone was eerily similar to how my wife struggled to do the same in her final weeks. It's a tough watch. "I Still Believe" (2020 movie about musician Jeremy Camp who lost his first wife to cancer in 2001) "The Unicorn" (a CBS sitcom that debuted in 2019) - Wikipedia explains the plot as follows (definitely NOT my experience): "A recently widowed father with two daughters is encouraged by his friends to re-enter the dating scene. To his surprise he becomes highly sought after due to his status as both an eligible widower and as a devoted father." "Kevin Can Wait" (a CBS sitcom that ran from 2016-2018) - another sitcom about a young widower with 3 children. I know it's a sitcom, but I think I could probably count on one hand the number of times the subject of loss was even mentioned. That's it... sorry for the long post. I'd love to hear about other shows or movies that have reflected your experiences back at you from your screens. Steve Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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