Thinking Fans on the passing of beloved soap characters: BL says, “Feelings are feelings, and if someone did something magnificent in their career or touched you emotionally, it should be honored” … while renee says, “I know they’re not physically real, but if we’re blessed they’re emotionally real” … and more. See Comments below.
By Damon L. Jacobs
This is not an easy time to be a soap fan. Already we are coping with declining ratings, pre-emptions, time changes, and signs of behind-the-scenes instability. But this week the Thinking Fans are coping with not one, not two, but three significant creative and artistic losses. What’s worse, the NAW’s (Non-Addicted-Watchers) in our lives usually have a limited ability to relate to our pain and sorrow.
Unlike stars of prime time TV shows or movies, soap actors/writers form unique relationships with us viewers. They are in our homes several times a week, sometimes for decades at a time. We often go through school and college
Respect your relationship with the person who has died … Appreciate the values they brought into your life.
watching our favorite character go through similar struggles. We may enter and exit relationships; we may give birth to children and watch them grow up, all with that comforting surrogate family member entering into our homes during the day. They come to symbolize a personal sense of history, stability, and comfort in a world which can be unpredictable and harsh.
So when one or more of these individuals passes from this world, it is important that we acknowledge this a real and valid loss in our own lives. Many fans grew up watching Irene Dailey portraying the feisty Liz Matthews on Another World, as well as Eileen Herlie as the comforting wise matriarchal figure on All My Children. The death of these actresses is a considerable loss for so many who shared their living rooms with them during various stages of their lives. Millions of young adults grew up with the brilliantly twisted turbulence of James E. Reilly’s Passions coming into their homes every day. The loss of this creator is a devastating one for those who knew and enjoyed his craft.
How do we deal with these losses, one on top of the other? The Soap Shrink has some ideas:
1. Try dropping the words “should” and “normal” from your grieving process. They don’t help you cope with loss, and usually end up making you feel worse.
2. Respect your relationship with the person who has died. It is easy to undermine our emotional connection to the people we have never personally met. But these individuals who passed did have an impact on most of us reading this column, and that deserves to be honored.
3. Appreciate the values they brought into your life. Loving Irene Dailey as I did means I might not back down quite so easily from an argument. Respecting James E. Reilly as I did means I might try something a little weird or “outside the lines” in my daily life. Channeling their energies helps me to focus on what they brought to my life, not on what I’m missing.
4. Understand that NAW’s just may not get why you’re upset. And that’s okay. Thanks to Marlena we have a place to come to where we can share common ground and know that we are not going through this alone. And on that note …
5. Talk about it! Use the space below to tell us how you have been coping this past week with these deaths, as well as past losses. I, for one, am still reeling over the shocking death of Benjamin Hendrickson (Hal Munson of As the World Turns) two years ago. And I know I will never forget the loss of my “surrogate grandfather” MacDonald Carey (Tom Horton, Days of Our Lives). So please, Thinking Fans, share with us your memories, your pains, your laughter, your tears.
Damon L. Jacobs is a family and relationship therapist practicing in New York City, and the author of Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve, to be published Nov. 1 by Morgan James Publishing. For more information, go to www.shouldless.com.