It’s okay to grieve for Patrick Reid

Patrick Reid, Offspring, Matt le Nevez,

Last night, I waited on the edge of my seat to find out who would die in Offspring.

As Billie stepped out onto the road I willed it to be her and, as Patrick was hit by a car I screamed and covered my eyes, tears already forming even though he seemed fine and I was one of many women finding themselves sobbing over the death of a fictional character.

I had a whinge on facebook and a debrief with a friend before having a horrible sleep and waking feeling like I had an emotional hangover. And today, when I thought about that moment when Patrick’s speech slurred and his head lolled, I felt the tears well up again.

The outpouring of grief across social media last night and today has shown me I am far from alone in my distress over his passing. Of course, there has also been status’ about people not understanding the devastation displayed, people suggesting that those upset know nothing of true tragedy and those reminding us that there are those out there living through actual tragedy.

While I can understand these positions, I do want to speak up, as someone who has been crushed by something that seems so trivial and say that I think it’s okay to grieve for Patrick Reid, or any fictional character which we connect with and become attached to.

Firstly, I want to say that I, for one, disagree with the notion that crying over a character formed and created purely in another’s mind and brought to life on screen or on a page suggests we know nothing of true tragedy. Nor does it mean we place less importance on the things that truly matter in life. Often, it’s the tragedy we have experienced which comes pouring out as we find ourselves in tears in front of the TV or a book.

Being prodded with jabs at our lack of perspective or understanding when only we know what hurts – old or new – have been re-opened by watching such an emotional episode is not conducive. We know people out there are having hard times and experiencing hurts, for all anyone knows those people might also be sharing their sadness at this ‘death’. Having ‘real’ troubles doesn’t make you immune from feeling.

And, the thing about feelings and emotions is that you can’t really control them. I knew I would be sad if they killed off Patrick. What I didn’t know is that I would cry and cry. That I would toss and turn. That I would feel drained the next day and none of that makes me a bad, shallow or blind person.

We grow to love these characters and their beautiful, complicated lives. We see hope, a new baby, a happily ever after and that’s what we want to continue. Of course, it’s not true to life, but we don’t want to escape to ‘true to life’. How glum would that be. We want to laugh and cry (to an extent) and watch them grow. We see ourselves. It gives us more.

And it is sad to know that when we tune in of a Wednesday night we won’t be seeing Dr Reid’s complicated character, that Nina will have to begin her journey as a mother with such a cloud above her head but that’s not to say that we are blurring the lines between fantasy and reality. It’s a tragic story line and we are invested, which makes us emotional. I’m also sad about the possibility of this event changing the atmosphere of the show; will it take away the things that draw me to Offspring?

I believe it’s perfectly normal to find ourselves so completely attached to characters which make us happy, give us pause, send our hearts racing or cause us to think. I believe it’s natural to feel emotional as we watch their stories unfold and I also think it’s complicated. We know they’re fictional. We know we’re being completely irrational. But, we also know what we feel and it’s no one else’s job to remind us that it’s all make believe or tell us we’re being silly. I have other emotional scars which have been torn open by viewing such raw emotion.

And in no way have I forgotten about those who are really doing it tough.

Did you/Do you watch Offspring? How did you cope with last night’s episode?

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5 Comments

  1. Well said. Those are my exact feeling. Thank you.

  2. Yes! Thank you for writing this! I too sobbed my eyes out when Patrick died. Yes, I know it’s not real, it’s just a show etc. But I think it is OK to be emotionally invested in ‘characters’, and is certainly no reflection of a lack of personal life experience. I think the reason these kind of story lines affect people so much is because they can relate to them, either prior experience, or their own fears. (i am dreading the funeral episode next week :’( )

  3. I most definitely watch Offspring and I was devastated when Patrick died. I totally thought it was going to be Billie. I wrote about it on my blog today too. http://findingmyselfyoung.blogspot.com.au/2013/08/thanks-for-messing-with-my-hormones.html if you want to read my perspective.

  4. It was a very sad episode and I kept willing Patrick to live, even as he lay there with the ventilator breathing for him. I was upset for maybe 5 minutes though and then I remembered that it was a TV show, made to evoke emotions in its viewers. I guess I just don’t become so invested in TV shows any more, but we’re all entitled to our own reactions and points of view.

  5. Yes, I think we grieve because we relate to the characters and what they are going through. We relate because we have seen/experienced true tragedy. It is a tribute to the writers and actors that they have portrayed it so realistically that we relate so well. We are human and it triggers memories and emotional responses … that’s what I think anyway. We know it’s just a show, but good acting can trigger an emotional response, just as music, writing, poetry and art can. It was really moving television. I’m still gutted.

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  1. In which a character dies… | The Aus Geek - [...] but lots of people seem to really like him. I get that. Becky from BeckyandJames.com has written a post …

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