I was meant to write this letter to you when I finished watching the first series of After Life last year, and last night I finished watching the second series. It spoke to me even louder than the last . I could write essays upon essays about the dialogue that After Life creates, that people are too uncomfortable to address in their everyday lives.
Someone suggested that I shouldn’t have watched After Life because it made me cry so much. And I must admit that after binge watching the 2nd season in an afternoon, I was left with a bit of a grief hangover today.
I’ve been there. No, not a widowed middle-aged man with an alcohol problem. But I’ve been at the point where life’s unrelenting conveyor belt is ushering you to keep moving forward but you are still frantically trying to scramble against time to stay close to the person you lost.
Our Mum passed away in September of 2018. Life stopped for me there and I was okay with that. I had no interest in moving forward with my life. I dug my heels in for the rest of the year but found myself entering 2019 anyway. All I could think of was how I had left my mum behind in 2018. I wanted was to stay static in time and sift through old memories. I wanted to recall how easily I existed with my mum, the way that Tony does as he replays videos upon videos of Lisa.
But life continues. So, you go to work, and do anything to dodge conversation. It’s not that you have nothing to say, but you can’t simply resume the trivial chat you once had before you knew your grief. You hold your breath until you finally reach home where you are safe behind your locked door. You can finally open your laptop screen and drink up those memories of your person that you know so well, of a safer time.
We are all going to grieve in our lives, it is unavoidable – yet nobody talks about it, nobody teaches it. What does the word “grief” even mean? I’ve spent most of my life in education but the word “grief” was alien to me, until, overnight it became a poignant part of my reality.
So, I wanted to write this letter to thank you and your team for bringing to life such a true depiction of what living with grief is. I want to thank you for allowing families to hunker down of an evening, to turn on their TVs and have a glimpse at what life after death can be and perhaps have a conversation about grief.
Like many people in our society, my uncle would prefer to dodge the conversation about loss and throw himself into his work with a life goes on attitude. Like many people, he’s comforted by the distraction of his occupied mind at work. But I saw him shed a little tear as he watched your series, as he allowed himself to revisit that time when he lost his sister. Life does go on, yes, but after loss, life will never be the same again, and in my opinion, that is worth a conversation.
Through the creation of our blog over the last 18 months, my younger sister and I have learnt to not only talk about it, but to normalise the conversation about grief after our Mum passed away. And we can draw so many similarities from Tony’s grief to our own. And, I wanted to tell you that two young girls have never related more to the dark sense of humour of a middle aged man who was awkwardly getting to know his grief. And isn’t that just it? We grieve and we hurt, but we are still allowed to keep our sense of humour, if not a little darker by the bruise that loss leaves, it’s still there.
Thankfully we are not in that dark place anymore, and our walk with grief is less reluctant today in our own After Life.
Co Creator of The Grief Reality.