How TV alienates the grieving

I saw a trailer on Sky the other day for the next big thing in hospital drama – Critical. A fictional series based on saving (or not) the life of a patient filmed in real-time (over an hour). The filming looks slick and the actors serious. It’s sold as being ‘ground-breaking and the most realistic hospital drama to date’.

Great!

Not!

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I’ve long-since wanted to write about why I find watching TV so hard now. Since Abi died, every telly programme seems to feature a death, a trauma, an argument, distress, pain, gore, fear… I instantly felt alienated by my TV, which is something we use every day for a bit of light relief. We’ve been living on trivia and gentle humour – endless episodes of QI, Would I Lie to You?, anything with Jimmy Carr in it and the comediens that usually feature with him. I’ve pretty much exhausted all those and have moved on to Top Gear now! My new ‘happy pill’. Sigh.

We have the whole Virgin Media Cable TV package, yet we can only watch a fraction of the channels simply because we can’t bear the programmes that are put out. Each night we scroll through the listings and there is nothing cheery on at all! And all of it sandwiched by the News, which isn’t much better (I’ve written about how I conquered that particular battle here)! We’ve even got Sky Movies and Netflix to widen up our choices, and some days I just put on a Disney Pixar film as that’s all I can handle!

The hard thing about this is that we used to really enjoy watching telly. We could easily watch a good old murder mystery – Midsomer Murders, Death in Paradise, Silent Witness etc – but we’ve not watched one since February 2013. Not that Abi was murdered, but it’s that these programmes inevitably have blood in, a dead body, perhaps a scene with someone performing CPR, grief, crying… ahhhh!

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Then the endless shows about bodies and health! We used to enjoy watching Casualty or ER, pretty easy viewing for a Saturday night, but now I rush to the remote if anything remotely medical is on the screen.

Every channel, every night there is something about death and trauma – it could be a drama like Holby City, this new Critical, or a documentary-style show like Benidorm ER, 24 hours in A&E, or as I’ve said, gritty crime thrillers.

We used to watch these shows just like ‘everyone else’. They didn’t bother us much at all, they were happening to other people. In fact some of the documentaries gave fascinating insights into how much our NHS staff have to put up with to save lives day in day out, and I feel it’s stuff we need to see in order to understand what goes on. But I can’t watch anything now. I see someone pass into death (the flatline is just horrendous!) and I am thrown back to the moment my daughter died. I see blood and CPR and I’m thrown back to the terrible moment I had to perform CPR on my daughter when she collapsed. I see people crying, screaming, pretend grieving and it cuts deep to know I feel it for real.

It is easy to say ‘switch it off then’, ‘read a book or do something else’. But our bedtime routine is long and drawn out, putting our children to bed; our days are hard trying to get on and live normally. TV is our escape and watching light-hearted silliness for an hour is essential to help us unwind before trying to go sleep. The Rev. Kate Bottley from Gogglebox once said something about how her day is a mixture of highs and lows – one minute she’s burying a baby, the next she’s dancing around at a school assembly – so she watches ‘trashy’ telly as a way to zone out a bit from the day. I totally get that. One minute I’m mourning Abi, the next I’m laughing on the floor with my children – a constant life/death ride.

We live with real life trauma and sorrow and hardship every day and I feel it’s becoming ‘critical’ that TV offers us more in the way of positive stuff, shows that inspire and give us a lift. I’m all for pretending, but why not do pretending happy instead of pretending sad?

So, as ‘brilliantly accurate’ as Critical may be, I won’t be watching. I’ll be too busy channel hopping!

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Valentine’s Day – using loss to celebrate love

Valentine’s Day. A day to celebrate love that’s turned into yet another excuse to waste spend money on stuff, just like Easter is all about chocolate and Christmas about presents.

St. Valentine was the patron of love, young people and happy marriages – not of supermarkets and card shops (or abusive relationships if watching ’50 Shades of Grey’ is on your ‘to-do’ list this weekend!). Continue reading

And then our world fell apart

It is already the second anniversary of this horrible day. Two years of trying to live a new life without Abi with us, yet she still feels so close. I wanted to reshare this as it sums up the day our world fell apart.

Chasing dragonflies

It is exactly a year ago today that Abi came downstairs looking pale and complained she felt really ill. Exactly a year since our world was turned upside down and inside out.

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I never really imagined what this day would be like, despite people telling me β€˜all the anniversaries will be hard’.

Anniversaries? Anniversaries are a time to celebrate or commemorate something. A time to think of only that person or event, which you can forget about the rest of the year.

It’s not an anniversary of a year without Abi, it’s an anniversary of the day our entire world was shattered by something so totally unpredictable and traumatic.

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Nesting – beyond the firstborn!

I saw a link to this thread on Mumsnet‘s Facebook page about how ‘precious’ we can be around our first child. A comment that had me giggling for ages after was that one mum actually squirted Johnson & Johnson’s No Tears Shampoo into her own eyes to test it really was ‘no tears! Oh dear!

It reminded me that when I was pregnant with my fourth baby last year, I wrote this post about how my attitude to so-called ‘nesting’ had changed since I had my first child over 10 years before. I seem to have gone from feathering my first nest to, perhaps, just tidying that nest a little bit with my second and third, to simply trying to keep all the twigs together by my fourth nest! So, without further ado, here is my list of ways nesting was different for me:

Nesting, then and now
Having spent most of the afternoon cleaning the house, I realised I’ve not actually achieved much more than the basics… and now it’s a tip again! I thought it might be the nesting instinct (pregnant woman with duster = feathering her nest), but in fact I’m just doing the bloody cleaning!

I thought it might be fun to compare some of the things I did first time around in 2000, when expecting my first child, with now (and my other children). Ah… the days of organised living… *goes off into daydream of tidier times*

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Baby rivalry

I wrote this post while I was pregnant with Grubbalo and Crackernut and Ponymad Girl were trying to understand what having a new baby meant.

Tonight, I was sat with my six-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter on the sofa and my son raised the topic of my going into labour. I reminded him that he was born just a few feet in front of us, on the lounge carpet, which he finds unreal.

When I asked him how he would feel when he hears the news that the baby is here, he said he’d not like it as it means I will spend all my time caring for the baby and won’t have any left for him; that people will bring the baby presents; and, importantly, that the baby will get the ‘day off’ (meaning school). Continue reading

What on earth do I say to a bereaved mum? It’s simple, STALL

It can seem like there’s plenty of advice about what not to do when it comes to grief. I’ve written a number of emotional posts about how some people get it ‘wrong’ when talking (or not!) to a beavered parent, such as this one and this one. While my rants are only one element of my complex grief emotion, I am, in the main, very accepting that people can’t be expected to ‘get it right’ all the time when dealing with such a sensitive issue (though I have heard some true howlers!).

But there are times when it’s worth knowing just what bereaved mums like me want from our friends and acquaintances particularly in the early days.

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