On Grief & Marriage: Lessons From Downton Abbey


On Grief & Marriage: Lessons From Downton Abbey

"The only way they can conceivably bear their grief is if they bear it together."

She asks Dr. Clarkson to research how few deaths have actually been avoided through late cesarian once eclampsia strikes in hopes that his research will determine the minimal likelihood that Sybil would have survived, regardless of the path taken the evening of her death. Her hope is that Cora can let go of some of her blame, join her husband, and share their grief. Granny Violet's pointed efforts to help Cora and Robert reconnect are especially poignant given her long-standing prickly relationship with her daughter-in-law.

Dr. Clarkson's research determines that Sybil's chances of survival were, in truth, quite small. During a meeting convened by Granny, Dr. Clarkson expresses strong distaste for Sir Phillip's cavalier attitude, but he also admits that the trip to the hospital and surgery he suggested would have been traumatic and painful and gave poor Sybil only the slimmest chance of survival:

When everything is weighed in the balance, I believe Lady Sybil was going to die.
Upon hearing Dr. Clarkson's opinion, Lady Cora can begin to forgive her husband and the couple can finally share in their grief. As they embrace, it is clear that their daughter's tragic death is a loss they will never forget and from which they will never fully recover. It is equally clear that they will be stronger through it, and will grieve more completely, if they face it together.

Even the episode's sub-plot in which sweet Mr. Mason (who has no living relatives) attempts to get through his grief over his son William's death by inviting his daughter-in-law, Daisy, to live with him and inherit his entire farm, "stock, tools and all" demonstrates the significance of family support and shared grief.

As a therapist, I hear a lot about loss, and no loss is as great as the loss of a child. A client once told me that, amidst the traumatic chaos of his daughter's terminal cancer diagnosis, he vividly remembered his parents (who had also, tragically, lost a child decades earlier) sitting him down with his wife to say:

"This tragedy will either make or break your marriage. Hold each other tight and never take one another for granted."

Their honest, loving words, along with devoted family, friends and a strong commitment to one another allowed them to face the unbearable.

Once again, Downton Abbey offers a message that, notwithstanding the drama's rarified and anachronistic setting, demonstrates the timeless importance of a family's support in the face of loss.

Visit www.elisabethlamotte.com to learn more or follow @elisjoy

This article was originally published at Huffington Post. Reprinted with permission from the author.
Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Elisabeth LaMotte


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:

Is Your Teen Or Tween Struggling Because They Feel Different?


If you have tween or teen daughters, it is highly likely that you have already heard an earful about John Green's bestselling novel and subsequently recently released film, The Fault in our Stars.  Even if you do not have teens or tweens, you would have to be living under a rock to have missed the hype about Hazel Grace, Augustus Waters, and their ... Read more

5 Things Movies Can Teach You About Breakups


A painful breakup is one of the most common reasons people seek therapy. Breakups are almost never easy and almost never mutual. Most people going through a breakup say they wish they could reverse their situation back into a relationship. However, as much as losing a relationship can hurt, breakups also carry the opportunity for important emotional ... Read more

Are You Ready to Unplug Your Love Life?


As a therapist working with adults in their twenties, thirties and forties, many of whom are single, I frequently discuss the way that technology affects dating and relationships with my clients.  I often wonder what the future will look like, and how much farther the internet revolution will infiltrate and impact the human experience of ... Read more

See More


Sign up for our daily email and get the stories everyone is talking about.

Ask The Experts

Have a dating or relationship question?
Visit Ask YourTango and let our experts and community answer.