Mourning Matthew

The Green Bay Packer playoff loss to the San Francisco 49er’s this past Sunday, left me feeling even colder than I already did in the frigid temperatures of Southeastern Wisconsin.  So, I did what I am sure many others did afterwards – I donned my flannel jammies and bulky robe, lit the fireplace and poured myself my favorite Cabernet and waited for the season premiere of Downton Abbey.

I want you to know that I am a royal fan of the series, having done a marathon of watching the first season before tuning in weekly.  You can read all about the episode here so I won’t bore you with my rendition, but this is how I felt about Lady Mary’s grief journey while watching the show.

The characteristics of grief that I feel were accurately portrayed:

  • Mary is walling herself off, isolating herself from the rest of the world, even from her loved ones which is often the case for those who have experienced the sudden death of a loved one.  It is exhausting to try to keep up with your usual routine and interact with others when you are coming to terms with what has happened.
  • She appears uninterested even with reading (one of her hobbies) and not wanting to engage in activities that would have brought her joy before her young husband’s death.  Physical exhaustion, lack of sleep and adjusting to the reality of your loss, changes your priorities.
  • It was difficult for her to care for her infant son and she seems somewhat uninterested in his presence.  Luckily for Mary she has a nanny and servants to help with the responsibility; however, child rearing is a daunting task for young widows and widowers in the real world.
  • Mary’s father (Lord Grantham) says, “It is our job to wrap her up and protect her from the world.”  Lord Grantham wants to cocoon Mary and shield her from un-pleasantries, feeling that Mary is in a fragile state.  It is especially difficult for parents to watch their children suffer even if they are grown adults.  The challenge for parents is to support their child during their grief without doing everything for them.  “Grief-work” can only be done by the bereaved. 
  • I don’t remember who said it (it might have been her grandmother) but they said, “It is our job to bring her back to the world.”  This is so true and this is the gift that family and friends can offer.  Sharing meals together, allowing the person to talk about the deceased and encouraging the bereaved to get out of the house are ways to help.   

Despite the writer’s insight into the very real challenges of this young widow, I am so disappointed in one major oversight.  The “push” to have Lady Mary come out of her room, get back to “normal” and to “get on with life” comes only six months after her husband’s death. I hope that we viewers will see loss accurately portrayed in future episodes?  For as wonderful as it is to see Mary step out of her room and want to take an active part in her new role as heiress, I hope she is able to continue her grief, because for those of us, who really KNOW, the journey is much longer…

What did you think about the show?  Could you relate to any of Mary’s grief responses?  I would love to hear from you.

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4 Responses to Mourning Matthew

  1. Pam Benson says:

    I agree with you Kathy. I love Downton Abbey, but I had the feeling the writers wanted Mary to “snap out of it” quickly in order to set up new men and story lines for her. It was too fast. I also think it’s interesting that while they allow for Mary to mourn (even a short time), no one seemed to mourn the youngest daughter’s death for more than an episode or two and the husband bounced back in no time. I thought they would have had the two of them consoling each other a bit.

    • Greet Grief says:

      You are so right, I wondered if I had missed an episode because Tom seemed to be just fine without his wife. Let’s hope that the series doesn’t disappoint us – maybe their losses will be discussed and they will share their hearts with one another and then they will become an item!! Why does that sound familiar??

  2. I love the show…I think grief was presented as it is … Although we are all different…

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