On Death & Loss: Lessons From "Downton Abbey"

By

On Death & Loss: Lessons From "Downton Abbey"
We all tend to grieve differently and to process the death of a loved one in varied ways

Once again, this week's episode of 'Downton Abbey' is full of powerful insights about life, love and human nature.  When twenty-four year old Lady Sybil's delivery of her first child takes a heartbreaking twist, viewers witness a telling exploration of grief and loss.  Death is such a painful and taboo topic, and last night's episode demonstrates the extent to which people tend to grieve differently and to process the death of a loved on in varied ways.

With the shocking death of Lady Sybil (Lady and Lord Grantham's youngest child) the upstairs and the downstairs of Dowton Abbey are paralized in a grief-stricken state of shock.  Thomas the footman, Downton's purest villian who in three seasons of the show has yet to say or do anything remotely genuine or kind, sheds tears in a corner and sobs,

 

"In my life...not many have been kind to me, and [Lady Sybil] was one of the few."

By contrast, soon before her death, Lady Sybil's own father is in such denial that he wastes energy reprimanding the well intentioned Dr. Clarkson for mentioning the word "urine" in his mother's presence.  During Lady Sybil's final moments, her Irish husband and her American mother cling to her side and proclaim their profound love, while her British sisters, father and brother-in-law keep their distance and stare at her, jaws dropped, as if trapped in a mutual state of disbelief. 

Immediately following her death, Sybil's brother in law, Matthew, inappropriately attemps to distract himself with business and financial matters.  Meanwhile, the adoring chef, Mrs. Patmore, speaks lovingly of her memories:

"She wasn't much more than a baby herself poor love.  When I think how I taught her to cook.  She couldn't boil and egg...yet she was so eager."

As a therapist, I hear a lot about how the immediate aftermath of the death of a loved one can feel similar to an out-of-body experience in which people frequently have little or no clear memory.  A client once told me that she and her sister processed the news of their father's death in dramatically different ways -- one was extremely emotional and expressive, the other was completely composed, contained and focused on taking care of business.  Family and friends expressed disbelief that these two sisters could have been raised in the same family. 

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission.
Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Elisabeth LaMotte

Counselor/Therapist

Social worker, psychotherapist, blogger and author of "Overcoming Your Parents' Divorce"

Location: Washington, DC
Credentials: LICSW, MFT, MSW
Specialties: Communication Problems, Dating/Being Single Support, Divorce/Divorce Prevention
Other Articles/News by Elisabeth LaMotte:

A Therapist's Review Of 'Romantics Anonymous'

By

Most of us experience some form of social anxiety. We may feel nervous before a social gathering or slightly agitated during group activities. In the extreme, social anxiety compromises the ability to connect to another person in an intimate relationship. Jean-Pierre Ameris' 2010 French film, Les Emotifs Anonymous, is a comedic but meaningful study of what ... Read more

Robin Williams And Cinema Therapy

By

Cinema therapy is an aspect of psychotherapy that is gaining attention these days. This approach involves the therapist's suggestion of various films that relate to the issues the client wants to address. Film's power to help and to heal, and therefore complement that therapeutic process, may be one of the most interesting aspects of practicing ... Read more

How Our View Of Relationships And Breakups Changes As We Age

By

Intimate relationships are a primary focus in psychotherapy. Through therapy, people examine their closest relationships in order to determine what aspects of their approach to others work well for them, and what aspects of their approach they might want to change in order to form healthier attachments. In order to figure this out, it helps to look at current ... Read more

See More

 
PARTNER POSTS
Latest Expert Videos
ASK YOURTANGO MORE QUESTIONS
Most Popular