Last week, I was watching my DVR’d season premiere episode of Criminal Minds. My husband happened to be sitting nearby during a part where the UNSUB killed someone. He looked over at me and asked, “Doesn’t this bother you?”
Eyes still glued to the TV, I asked, “Huh?”
He said, “The death.”
Prying my eyes away, reluctantly, I gave him my full attention. “No, why would it?”
He responded, “Because… You know…”
My husband was asking me if seeing three dead bodies up close and personal has made me more sensitive to death on TV. The funny thing is that it totally doesn’t. While some of the murders on the criminal shows I watch do get to me just based on their sick/grisly nature, the death scenes themselves never truly bother me.
Being so close to the dead bodies of people I loved as much as my own life has hardened me. In order to survive, I had to shut down my feelings. My position as an only child left me very little options to do anything but persevere through the pain in order to deal with the aftermath – namely the logistical nightmares involved with death. Where do the bodies go? What do you want the obituary to say? When will the funeral be? What clothes do you want on the body? Which casket do you want? (Pink? Brown? Silver? Economy? Standard? Premium?) What kind of flowers do you want? Do you have pictures for the slideshow? Which program? Which minister do you want to do the service? Should people be allowed to speak or not? Are you having a family car? What happens if it snows? (Because both my parents just had to die in winter.)
I’m totally not kidding. These were just a few of the questions I had to answer for both my parent’s deaths on top of contacting everyone they knew to let them know. (When my mom died unexpectedly, I got a lot of “you’re joking” responses. Like I would joke. Seriously.) Allowing myself to “feel” during this time just wasn’t possible. While I wanted to curl up in a fetal position in bed and cry my eyes out, I couldn’t do it because I had to be the responsible one. The first time, it was because my dad wasn’t in any shape to do it. The second time, it was because there was literally no one else. The buck stopped with me.
The saying that “Time heals all wounds” is true – to an extent. I have accepted that I live in a new normal now. One without my parents. Most of the time, I am okay with that. Sometimes, I’m not. My mom’s death was like deep cut in my finger. Eventually it healed, though a scar remained. My finger was never quite the same, but it was functional, only bothering me occasionally. My dad’s death was like cutting my finger in the exact same place and re-opening the scar. A twice-healed scar will never be as strong as the original skin, but it gets you by. I’m not the “me” that I was before and I never will be. But, I live on. I survive.
Do murders on criminal minds bother me? No.
But I have not watched the fifth season episode of Buffy where her mom died of a stroke (aptly titled “The Body”) since its original airing on television (even though I own the whole series on DVD). The natural deaths are harder to swallow. They hit a little too close to home.
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