Just recently, Jeni was watching a show where one of the characters died unexpectedly. In this particular episode, they were having the reading of the will. To so and so… I bequeath this book with a personalized note of what this person meant to me. To so and so … I give this box of mementos that I know will give meaning to their life. To this person…I give my condominium with a paid off mortgage. I have endowed trusts for this person and that person so that they will be able to pursue their dreams in life and accomplish great things. All neat and tidy. It was as if the deceased was prepared and had everything ready for everyone else…just in case.
She sat and thought how in the world could it be so tidy and neat…..oh yeah, this is TV.
Reality for us – it was not neat and tidy. It wasn’t this box goes to this person, this book to that one and here is the money or trust that will make life easy.
It was messy.
Reality was that we were not prepared for this event. We did not know what to do or how to handle things. We did not know the wishes of our lost loved one. We looked to others for answers. Many times, they were as clueless as we were at the time. But…We did the best we could.
Reality was that there was stuff to deal with and the answers were not written in black and white. We had to figure out what should be done with everything and everyone. There was no roadmap to follow and no directions to guide us.
There are some shows that present a better picture of death and grief. The series “This Is Us” tends to present a more realistic view of what it is like to be a widow traveling the grief journey. The uncertainty and the struggle of how to go on tends to be portrayed more accurately in this show. We realize that there are some other shows where the reality of a sudden death is portrayed more accurately; however, there are many shows and movies that choose to show a tidy summary when a death of a character occurs.
Be aware that TV and movies are fiction, even the “reality” ones are made for consumer consumption and to make money. They may not tell the whole, raw, vulnerable, ugly story. You and your grief are not fictional and it’s as real as it gets. Tidy and well organized don’t typically go with death and dying. Most likely, everything is not ready for everyone and you may not know the wishes of the one you lost. You will most likely have to sort through things and make the best decisions that you can.
The truth is death is hardly tidy. Many times, we have not prepared for it and the result is that it’s often a mess and can even be really messy. A lot of this can depend on your culture, personal experiences, planning and how you cope with death and the chaos it brings. You will do the best you can with the tools that you have and it will be okay. It may not be the tidy box that our TV world brings to us…most likely it will not. Remember, that actors and actresses have someone else writing their story and their reactions. You are the one writing yours and walking your path.
One step at a time, one day at a time, your journey will be written by you. If you need some resources to help you as you journey, please check our resource page and know that, as always, we are here with some guidance.
Peace and Blessings,
Jeni & Teresa