The Shadow of Grief

In my previous post, I wrote about how my mom and I are watching Broadchurch, which is a British detective show that focuses on the murder of an eleven-year-old boy named Danny and how his death impacts both his family and the community of Broadchurch. In episode six, Danny's mother, Beth, wants to meet another woman who has experienced a similar loss. The woman's name is Cate and her child was also murdered. It's understandable that Beth would want to connect with someone who knows what it's like to lose a child to violent crime. During their meeting, Cate talks about grief and compares it to a shadow.

I think it's helpful to re-conceptualize grief as Cate does. People have this idea that grief is something one can overcome, something that is temporary and impermanent, but what Cate is saying--and what my blog is dedicated to promoting--is the truth that, for many people, grief becomes part of life and can never be separated from it. Grief exists in a million ordinary moments. Just today, ten years after my father's death, I broke down because I was listening to a band and wondered if he liked it. I'll never know. I can't ask him. He isn't here anymore. He will never be here again, and how am I supposed to live with that? No one can live with it but me. I have to face it every day. I have to face those ordinary moments of grief. I have to live with the shadow that Cate describes. We all do once we experience a traumatic, life-shattering loss.

As we watched the first season of Broadchurch, I told my mom that I like the way the show delves into the family's grief and reminds us that the crime victims in the newspapers and on television are real people suffering real loss. Many crime dramas focus solely on the detectives who are solving the case but Broadchurch expands its focus and makes room for the grieving family. In one scene, Beth asks if she can hold one of Danny's friends because she misses hugging her son. In another scene, Danny's sister sees boys his age playing and has to leave school. Anything and everything can be a reminder of the dead. I've been in schools, grocery stores, movie theaters, and other public places and been overwhelmed by memories of my father. I've seen men that remind me of him, smelled cologne similar to his, and it took me days to recover. It never ends. The grief is endless. At one point, Beth asks Cate how she copes and Cate confesses that she sleeps a lot, takes sleeping pills, and even drinks. She can't cope. Some of us can't heal or come back. Some of us will always struggle to survive once the shadow of grief has touched our lives.