This week, death happened upon Girls. Hannah’s editor, David Pressler-Goings, died mysteriously, and his body was later found in a river. David’s death prompted a range of responses: Hannah wondered what this meant for her ebook, Adam was appalled at her insensitivity, and Jessa and Shoshanna had a conversation of their own about their experiences with loss—which led to Jessa’s discovery that a friend of hers who had tragically died a few years before hadn’t really died at all.
Below, The Atlantic's team of millennial Girls-watchers—Education editor Eleanor Barkhorn, Health editor James Hamblin, social media editor Chris Heller, and Entertainment editor Ashley Fetters—responds to questions raised by the show’s depictions of grief, online media, and the flighty nature of maturity.
Read more.[Image: HBO]
My mom died on July 18, 2013, of pancreatic cancer, a subtle blade that slips into the host so imperceptibly that by the time a presence is felt, it is almost always too late. Living about 16 months after her diagnosis, she was “lucky,” at least by the new standards of the parallel universe of cancer world. We were all lucky and unlucky in this way. Having time to watch a loved one die is a gift that takes more than it gives.
Psychologists call this drawn out period “anticipatory grief.” Anticipating a loved one’s death is considered normal and healthy, but realistically, the only way to prepare for a death is to imagine it. I could not stop imagining it. I spent a year and a half writing my mother a goodbye letter in my head, where, in the private theater of my thoughts, she died a hundred times. In buses and movie theaters, on Connecticut Avenue and 5th Avenue, on crosswalks and sidewalks, on the DC metro and New York subway, I lost her, again and again. To suffer a loved one’s long death is not to experience a single traumatic blow, but to suffer a thousand little deaths, tiny pinpricks, each a shot of grief you hope will inoculate against the real thing.
A boundless black terror is how I imagined life without my mom. The history of grief, or what we know of it, is written by its greatest sufferers and ransacked with horror stories, lugubrious poetry, and downward-spiraling memoirs plunged in sadness. For some people, the death of a loved one is truly life-stopping, and I worried it would stop mine.
Ten years ago, Danny Gregory, the executive creative director and managing partner of the New York ad agency mcgarrybowen, wrote and illustrated a heart-wrenching testament to love, Everyday Matters: A Story of Love and Recovery.
See more. [Images: Danny Gregory]