After losing someone you had planned to spend the rest of your life with, especially immediately and unexpectedly, your worldview is shaken, and your past, as well as your future, is forever altered. The pain of the questions regarding your loved one’s history (which you will never have answers to) is a devastating blow when all you desire is to maintain some connection to the one you lost. Anything about that person that you didn’t know before is an opportunity to build a bridge to the deceased and keep them a part of you. For some, learning about the parts of the person you lost from before you knew them is a comfort, because it allows you to see the whole picture of the person that you loved. In addition to the common trip through the past of the deceased, one also must accept that the future one was supposed to have with them will never be realized. Social events, gatherings, and even decisions you make will forever hold a different impact than they would have if your forever person were still with you. When it is a spouse you lost, attending weddings, especially, is an extreme test to the psyche and an inescapable realization of how much your life has changed.
I Hate Chess
A flashback to Leigh and Matt sharing a morning together reveals that he had a scar on his back that Leigh had questioned him about multiple times, to which he never provided an answer. After his death, desperate for a connection to him and eager to find someone to blame, Leigh sets out to talk to Matt’s mother in an attempt to learn about his childhood. Still troubled by the questions that surround his death and whether or not it was a suicide, Leigh looks for answers to help her cope through the loss. Danny thinks Leigh’s questions about Matt’s childhood are unimportant, and believes her laser-focus on talking to his mother like Leigh wants to do is a mistake. Deep down, however, Leigh is feeling responsible for Matt’s death. She feels as though she was inadequate as a partner and failed to make him happy.
Sorry for Your Loss proves again to have its finger on the pulse of what it means to live with someone with depression. To those that don’t suffer, the assumption is that something brings on depressive episodes, or that an event or moment can be traced as the genesis of one’s depression. This was Leigh’s thinking, which is what prompted her visit to Matt and Danny’s mother’s house, perilously searching for the first moment Matt revealed signs of depression. Like any other illness, depression can’t always be tracked to a traumatic experience or event to signal its beginnings, and an understanding of that by the community that doesn’t suffer will go a long way toward reducing the stigma. The burden on the depressed is enough without having to convince those around us that it’s not their fault and there’s nothing they can do at times to help us through it. This subconscious feeling of letting well-meaning people down who are close to those who suffer from depression is one additional cross to bear that adds unneeded weight to living with the illness.
Throughout the seventh episode of the series, many characters confront who they used to be and how that former version of themselves has impacted their present. Jules is working on her recovery by taking an introspective turn, being honest about the mistakes she has made through her life and how it led to her abuse of alcohol. After much lamenting to Leigh that people that talk about their childhood are weird, Danny eventually forces himself to visit his own as a means to analyze Matt’s. Danny ultimately confesses to his mother that he believes his father suffered from depression, and had he been honest about that, perhaps Matt may still be alive. His mother is in denial and views depression as a millennial scapegoat lumped in with gluten allergies and the desire for organic produce. She can’t believe her husband to be anything less than a good provider who gave all of himself to his job and came home with nothing left to give to his family. Recognizing this as a sign of depression carried too much of a stigma for Matt and Danny’s mom to accept, proving that the non-suffering community has some distance to travel in accepting and understanding the nuance of depression.
A Widow Walks Into a Wedding
A simple touch, and the memory it leads to, is a complicated and often heartbreaking aspect of grieving. One moment you’re okay, and the next moment you see something or touch something and memories of the last time you used it flood the mind, transporting you to a time where you shared space with the one you love who is no longer with you. Leigh experienced such a moment when she was getting ready for her best friend’s wedding. She pulled a hair clip out of the bureau that she had used on her wedding day, triggering a flashback to moments before she and Matt exchanged vows as he helped her through pre-wedding jitters.
This flashback was revelatory about the kind of relationship that Matt and Leigh shared. Leigh is a strong independent woman in her ideas and thoughts, with the confidence to express them. Even so, she was so close to Matt and trusted him so much that she allowed him to see her when she was vulnerable, and he knew she was vulnerable without her telling him, revealing that they shared a bond Leigh does not forge with many people. The wedding she attends—an immense struggle on its own for a new widow—is only further complicated when she sees someone from her past as part of a couple. The same woman that did the flowers for Matt and Leigh’s wedding did them for Drew’s wedding as well, and immediately asks about Matt. Answering questions about where someone is so soon after losing them is immensely difficult because saying the words out loud comes with an acceptance of death that one may not be ready to admit. Leigh lies, only to reveal later that Matt has died facing the reality that the future she was supposed to have, which she has been repeatedly reminded of while attending the wedding, is not the one she will get.
Drew’s wedding brings out a lot of neglected or unexplored feelings for each of the characters in the show. A brother’s dance reminds Danny that his only brother is gone, and he will never enjoy the kinship he had with Matt with anyone else. Seeing a newlywed couple enjoying being in each other’s presence is something Leigh knows she will never again experience with the man she married. Jules being sober for the first time at a wedding makes her feel inadequate compared to the people with whom she is surrounded. An arrogant law student immediately makes her feel like her life of working at her mother’s studio doesn’t measure up to the “real jobs,” as she calls them, of the other guests at the wedding.
These are among the ultimate human struggles, realizing both that the life we lead should never be stacked against anyone else’s and that each of us feels insecure and in a constant loop of comparing ourselves to other people. Every person has a unique history, and brings with their story an individual set of struggles that no one else experiences. Even siblings, as we see with Matt and Danny, don’t experience life the same way, and attempting to square ourselves up to other people and how they appear to be managing their lives will create a constant strain on our perceptions of ourselves and others. So often we are worried about our own lives and how they look compared to others, and how others seem to be handling all they are doing that we forget that every person around us is experiencing the same anxieties as they look at us and assume we have it all together. The exceptional capabilities of our collective human energies would be far better served if we placed as much energy on the recognition that we are all in this together as we do on our insecurities. Just as the characters in the show are stronger when they are vulnerable, so are each of us in the human condition. This is what makes Sorry For Your Loss so powerful, the way it exposes our shared experiences, revealing that what makes us the most human is how connected we are and how natural an empathetic response is to those suffering from pain all too familiar to each of us.