I was a Communications major in college. I specialized in television production. Maybe that is why this whole Oprah thing perplexes me so much.
Why is the loss community so obsessed with getting to be on the Oprah show? And why, when someone like Rev Run does get on the Oprah show, does the loss community pick it apart piece by piece?
I did not see the show yesterday...and I am glad I didn't, from all accounts. Rev Run and his family apparently have a different way of dealing with things than I do. But in reading the post-mortem on this show on other blogs and message boards, I find that there are two points that seem to cause people the most irritation...
First...the family never uses the dead child's name. I think that is sad...but if that is their way of coping then they need to be left alone to do what works for their family. Some people choose not to see their babies. Some people choose not to hold their babies. Some people choose cremation...some burial. It all comes down to personal choice...and healing (which we will get to in just a moment).
And then this...
"Oprah, you know how they say mourn and give 'em space? I'm not believing in that anymore," Justine says. "That mourning gives you more mourning, more blue, more depressed."
"I want the world to know that you're supposed to be grateful in all things," Rev Run says. "I don't understand what God did, why he did it, but I do know that I'm here now, I'm happy now, I'm here on Oprah, I have my children with me, and I don't have to keep remembering this if it's going to bring me down and send me into depression."
You would think this family just told people to go sacrifice chickens or something. Irate doesn't even come close to describing the emotion that comes bubbling to the surface when people (I've noticed it is particularly mothers) hear this. And I suppose I can see the harshness in it if you internalize this message and see it as some sort of judgment of your way of handling grief. But if I take a good, hard, honest look at it...it is pretty accurate. If you sit on your sofa and mourn forever, you will always be sitting on your sofa mourning. Eventually, as hard and as sad as it is, you have to get up and leave the safety of your grief and face the world head on. It sucks...and I doubt anyone would disagree with that. But you will never find joy again unless you actively look for it...unless you push the sadness aside and make room for life and happiness. And THAT, I think, is a perfectly reasonable message.
Which leads me to my point of confusion. If you don't have an inspirational story to tell...if you have no hopeful message to share...why on earth would you want Oprah to do a show about it? I see online petitions all the time for Oprah to do a show on Pregnancy and Infant Loss. Why? What exactly would this show look like? A bunch of bereaved mothers sitting on a soundstage crying and talking about how they miss their babies so much? Click. I wouldn't watch that if you paid me.
I WOULD watch a show about women who have turned their grief into something...Cheryl Haggard of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, Infant Bereavement Photography...Lisa Rebman, the MOM Project...Karen of Faith Hope and Charity Stitches, Inc...the women and men leading the charge to get stillbirth certificates issued to grieving parents. Someone with a message of healing and hope...not someone who sits on their couch grieving all day.
Look at what they are working on for future shows...
Up for a GREEN CHALLENGE?
CHICAGO ONLY: Do You Have Questions About Darfur?
Are You Confused by World Events?
Think you look EXACTLY like your PET? PROVE IT!
Is your home COMPLETELY CLUTTERED inside AND out?
Why Aren't You Happy?
What is Your Secret to Happiness?
Do Your Dance Moves Need Updating?
Is your BACKYARD, PATIO, LAWN or GARDEN a DISASTER
How Do You Live?
Specific Question About Clutter?
Lacking Organizational Skills?
Are You in Desperate Need For A Spring Cleaning?
Need Help Downsizing Your House?
Schools That Are Changing the World
Inspiring Ways to Cope w/ the Loss of a Loved One
Ask Dr Oz about your children's health!
Does your child have a question for Dr. Oz?
Did our show INSPIRE you to help others?
Do you have burning questions about The Road?
Do You Have A Funny Home Video?
Is Your Child VERY Overweight?
How are you Paying It Forward?
Is your daughter showing signs of early puberty?
Do you have an Embarrassing Medical Problem?
Solving problems. Enjoying life. Inspiring us to be better people. All the show ideas have the same theme. Positivity. I just don't see Oprah changing the mold of her very successful show...and I don't see why she should.
Even if you dressed it up as an educational show...what would we really be educating about? It takes about ten seconds to deliver the message...It happens more than you think and it CAN happen to YOU. Beyond that, what would you talk about for the other 59 minutes and 50 seconds (minus time for commercials)?
If Oprah is so darn important, then there needs to be a concerted effort to support those people who HAVE done something positive with their grief. Instead of cutting down Rev Run and his family, we should be supporting them and their story. It might not be a perfect example of how WE choose to grieve, but few things are perfect in this life.