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Remembering the Loss: The Stages of Grief Through Fictional Characters We’ve Loved and Lost

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TV has been a staple of my life and how I looked at the world even before I knew what the world was even about. With all the happiness and joy that TV brought me there was also a dark side. A dark side of intense feels and loss in, what felt like, a real way.

I can remember distinctly the moment when a death of a character affected and upset me and not understanding why a fictional character made me going through the typical stages of grief. These people aren’t real but once you invest so much of your time and energy in the character you start to feel like they are and connected to them and their story. So, it only makes sense to feel loss when you loose them and how you can go through those stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.

This list is a personal list of losses of major characters that I felt connected to and sadden when they were no more.

*Be Warned: Spoilers Ahead*

Denial
Supernatural – Sam Winchester – Season 2 – “All Hell Breaks Loose Part 1” written by Sera Gamble

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How can you kill off a main character and only in the second season? Bold move Eric Kripke. It was that bold move that hooked me to the show. Even though Sam did technically come back to life, there was a price to pay, for his life Dean gave up his. This began the never ending scenario between the brothers always sacrificing themselves to save the other. Extreme Brotherly Love, I guess? My main “denial” will be when Sam/Dean die but don’t come back to life. This hasn’t happened yet, though I’m concerned that it will and I don’t know what I will do with myself then. I just believe it will be an inevitable but as of now they are safe and will never die.

Anger
Twin Peaks – Agent Cooper – Season 2 – Episode #2.22 written by Mark Frost, Harley Peyton & Robert Engels

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Granted, when I watched this episode, I didn’t know it was the end of not only season 2 but also the series—my heart was broken and furious how they left Agent Cooper. I just couldn’t believe it and didn’t like this opened-ended-ness to his character being trapped in the Black Lodge. Coop was the good guy! I also didn’t buy the Fire Walk With Me wrap up that all that needed to be done to save Agent Cooper was for Laura Palmer to write the “Good Cooper” was in the Black Lodge. COME ON! He deserved better than that! Hopefully they make up for this in 2016 with the new episodes on Showtime. Please don’t fail me David … I beg you. I need this!

Bargaining
Firefly – Wash (though technically he dies in Serenity, I still think it counts in the world of Firefly, because there was only season.)

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My reaction to this death was yelling at the TV in disbelief. Not WASH! He just can’t be dead. Joss Whedon is the unchallenged King of making you fall in love with a character and then ripping your heart out. I also blame Supernatural for allowing me to see characters die and then come back to life and expect that to happen in every show. I was so upset and felt that this couldn’t happen, because it felt unjust and unfair. How could you kill him with just a spike to the chest when he safely landed the ship that was falling apart? How could you take him away from Zoe? They had plans! He’s not allowed to die. He has to live and come back to life, yet alas that was not what happened. He’s dead, and even if I do try to make a deal with a crossroads demon, he wouldn’t be the same, though I’ll never give up.

I guess that’s why we have fan fiction…

Depression
X-Files – Agent Fox Mulder – Season 7 – “Requiem” written by Chris Carter

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X-Files is a very important show to me, and the dynamic and sexual tension between Agent Mulder and Skully is something that’s undefinable. So, when you take one of those key elements out, it ruins it all. When Mulder was deemed dead/abducted, I was devastated not only because they destroy this dynamic but also because I didn’t believe Skully to be the one “to believe.” I was so upset with this that I never watched the seasons when Mulder was gone, because I couldn’t handle it. I just recently forced myself to get through those last few seasons and know Mulder does return, but these were dark, dark years that I don’t know if I can ever fully get over.

Acceptance
Six Feet Under – EVERYONE – Season 5 – “Everyone’s Waiting” written by Alan Ball

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Talk about a cry-fest. Not only do they get ya with Nathan’s death randomly a few episodes prior, but you also see the death of every character you cared about in this show. Yes, it was sad and yes, I hated seeing everyone die, but there was something about a show about a funeral home that makes you feel you do need to see everyone’s ultimate death. There was a sense of completion to see them die and to be OK with the fact that we all will, ultimately, die as well. Also the Sia song “Breathe Me” kills me still, every time I hear it.

It’s good to go through this process, and I encourage you to add your own!

Stacie Sells is a nerd, writer and artist based in Oakland, California. When she’s not bing watching her favorite TV shows with her cats, she’s either compiling cross over fan fiction for her website Fictorious Journal or putting her final touches on her musical based on Keanu Reeves called Keanu! The Musical (@keanuthemusical on Twitter).

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