There’s no denying that 2016 will go down as a truly horrible year. From a ever-ending plethora of artist deaths, to one of the most contentious and negative elections in US history to far too many tragedies to even count, this is a year just about anyone should be ready to say goodbye to.
On a personal note though, 2016 has been the absolute worst year of my life. Not because we lost David Bowie and Prince, not because of any election results and not for any reason most would cite to classify the year as terrible. Instead, it’s the death of my father that has made this year absolutely unbearable.
Losing a parent is the sort of thing that’s hard to explain. It’s one of the worst pains you’ll ever feel but at the same time you’re completely numb to everything that’s happening around you. Nothing seems real.
It’s a feeling I wasn’t sure how to deal with for a little over two months. Then the third season of “You’re The Worst” came along and helped me start to cope.
As fans of the FXX comedy know, the third season of “You’re The Worst” dealt heavily with Jimmy (Chris Geere) coming to terms with the death of his father. He did so in the most flippant matter at first, as if the losing his father didn’t bother him.
It was easy to see it did, though. He simply didn’t know how to deal with it. That’s honestly what it felt like for me when I got the call that my father was dead. There was no crying or screaming — no emotional outbursts of any kind. Because it just didn’t make sense, didn’t seem real. Eventually the floodgates slowly start to open. You see things that would never remind you of your parent before that suddenly seem like a strong connection.
Then the sadness, anger and grief you might not even realize you’re holding in explodes, just as it did for Jimmy in “You Knew It Was a Snake.” It’s not right and it’s not fair but it’s simply something that cannot be changed. Death is a guarantee but it’s never one you’re ready to face when it comes to the people that raise you.
In watching this last season of “You’re the Worst” play out, I identified so closely with Jimmy in ways I never expected to. After all, like everyone in his crew he is the worst. But I related to the humanity that was shining beneath the surface as he struggled internally how to react before simply giving into his feelings as best he could.
It’s a role Geere played perfectly. And it’s one that for those like myself, helps to show that while there is no right way to grieve the death of a parent, there is also no wrong way. You react how you react and that’s all there is to it.
An additional level of coping came from an unexpected place on the show and that was Edgar’s (Desmin Borges) Season 3 storyline. As a veteran of the war in Iraq, he struggled to get the mental help he needed from the government.
In the episode “Twenty-Two” he visits Veterans Affairs in an attempt to get treatment for his PTSD only to be left without many options. It’s a situation many veterans find themselves in, unable to get proper help to heal what time at war has done to them, physically or mentally.
All my life, I watched as my dad suffered in pain from a serious injury he received while serving in the Vietnam War. Beyond the pain though was the mental anguish. Many of us could never even begin to comprehend what fighting in a war can do to the human mind. I remember the nightmares my dad suffered from, his inability to trust easily and his never truly knowing whether the friends he made ever came home.
These are the types of things that by and large get glossed over in favor of the “doing your patriotic duty” narrative of enlisting in the armed forces. Those who serve are heroes that goes through hell and that’s not something TV shows portray all that often.
Seeing what Edgar had to go through — and what living with his PTSD is like — humanizes it in a way most shows couldn’t imagine and watching it left me a mess of tears as I thought about my dad. He never really liked to talk about the war or how he felt outside of his near-constant refrain of “My leg hurts.” Through Edgar though, I was able to at least partially connect with what his experience was like. That’s the sort of thing I was never able to fully comprehend when he was alive.
I’ll never be able to thank “You’re the Worst” enough for helping me, in part, to cope with my dad’s death. In a way though, I’m far more thankful that Falk and his cast and crew were able to help me come to terms with and understand his life.