I stared at the television. Mouth open. Rebecca Pearson, played by Mandy Moore, had just described my life. Her words were haunting. It appears the writer for the hit show, “This Is Us”, had somehow peeked inside my world and compared my life – the before and after.
“After your father died, I had to let to go of a lot of things, and happiness was one of the first things to go. And, it was like that for a very, very long time,” she says when asked about her marriage to the man who happens to be her late husband’s best friend. She later adds that their relationship is “quieter and older” before admitting that she’s happy again.
That line – quieter and older – also describes my first post-loss relationship which began nearly four years after I unexpectedly lost my husband. My new guy is the polar opposite of my husband. Early on, I questioned this. I thought I wanted – even needed – a clone of my spouse. But honestly, at this point in life, my new guy brings a calm and steadiness to my life that is exactly what I needed – even though I didn’t know it.
I reached out to a group of young widows and they too agreed that “This Is Us” gets widowhood right. Here are 9 other times the show hit close to home for the widowed community:
“You really do a disservice by calling my husband an addict because he was so much more than that!”
Rebecca’s response to her son’s therapist who chides her not discussing her late husband’s alcoholism with her three children especially resonated with widow, Jessica.
“Losing someone to addiction carries the extra burden of judgment,” she explains. “Some even tell me, ‘You’re better off’. F—k, I hate that! Jack was so much more than the alcohol just like Dave was more than heroin.”
“Your dad isn’t here and that’s just something I’m going to have to deal with for the rest of my life. The happiest moments will also be a little sad.”
Me and every widow I know yelled a collective, “Preach!” when Rebecca, eyes filled with tears, explained her “new normal”.
Destiny, a fan of the show, shares: When my daughter had her first day of school, I cried because my baby was growing up. And, I cried because her daddy wasn’t on Earth to see it.
Kevin Pearson, confesses to losing his dad’s necklace and Rebecca rubs her necklace, still around her neck – even though it’s been several years and she has remarried.
“This hit me because I also wear my husband’s wedding band on a chain and someone said to me recently that they thought I shouldn’t wear it because it wouldn’t be ‘fair’ to another man. I can’t imagine not wearing it though,” said Darlene, who is widowed.
The scene where Rebecca pulls up to the charred Pearson home. We see what looks to be Jack’s belongings in a bag and she lets out an anguished scream.
Widow Terri cried for days after viewing the episode. “That mortal widow scream…” she says, “That was me many times over.”
Beverly, widowed in 2011, concurs: It’s the same scream I did when they told me my husband was dead.
The relationship between Rebecca and her children, Kevin, Randall and Kate.
“I think the show highlights all the emotional complexities of being a widow especially the dynamics between Rebecca and her children,” said Cathy. “It is complicated, painful and beautiful all at the same time. The show’s realism is astounding.”
Miguel – Rebecca’s new spouse – tells the partners of the Pearson children: “Those four lived through something very unique together. They lived through the loss of the best man that any of us will ever know. And that’s why they get to be on the inside.”
Ryan, also widowed, says, “There are things that nobody else will ever truly understand. The show gets it right with how fiercely the siblings protect one another. My kids (two boys and a girl) are that way now.”
Jack’s status to near sainthood.
Death has a way of erasing the bad, less than positive moments we had with our spouses. Though most widows are guilty of this, the false-sense of perfection can affect our children and even how we date in the future.
Widow Karen agrees: I feel like many only remember the good stuff and the deceased gets elevated to sainthood. I try to remind my kids of all facets of their dad, good and not so good. No one can live up to perfection, nor should they – especially when the idolized person wasn’t perfect!
Miguel’s relationship with the Pearson clan.
“For me, someone who remarried after being widowed, it’s how everyone, even Rebecca, treats Miguel,” explains Theresa. “He’s looked at by almost everyone as someone who is trying to take Jack’s place and even he knows that can never happen. Rebecca obviously loves him but to help the rest of the family accept him, she feels she has to hide that. I get it. I love Chas endlessly. He will never be Ron or take Ron’s place but I feel I have to watch how close I stand to him or what I say about him on my Facebook so people don’t think I don’t still miss Ron.”
By watching Miguel’s storyline develop, widow Vicki says she is more aware of the challenges her new guy faces.
“He wasn’t a part of our lives before but he’s in a tough place regardless. It can’t be easy to follow the charismatic dead guy,” she says. “Hopefully the show helps me help him navigate through at least some of the minefields.”
Seeing Dr. K’s story (he delivered the Pearson children) play out in Season 1.
We learn Dr. K is also widowed. We saw him talking to his wife, only to realize she wasn’t really there. We get it. Most all of us still talk to our spouses. We know what it feels like to want to have that connection again.
Dr. K’s best line was telling Jack that he needed to keep moving forward following the death of one of the Pearson’s triplets. He said Jack needed to find a way to take “the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turn it into something resembling lemonade”.
It was a jarring lesson for many in the widowed community. We have to keep moving forward – despite our pain, despite our loss, despite a piece of our heart being missing.
What scene resonated most with you? What would you add to the list? Chime in the comments!