Jane the Virgin Season 3 certainly pulled a fast one when the show killed off Michael (Brett Dier) during the middle of the season. It was something fans suspected may happen at some point in time, but how and when his death occurred, well, it was pretty shocking.
From that moment, fans have watched how Jane’s life has changed drastically since officially becoming a widow and how she continues to cope three years later. However you may feel about the death of Michael and how JTV chose to handle Jane’s storyline by surpassing most of her raw and emotional grieving process, there is no doubt that the series has gotten a lot right about grief.
Like Jane, I lost someone I loved out of the blue. At just 13 years old, my brother died at 16 in a car accident. It turned my world upside-down, and soon enough, I was hit right smack in the face with grief. Obviously, the type of loss Jane is experiencing compared to my own is vastly different, but I can still relate to her grieving process and also the fact that she had to say goodbye to someone unexpectedly at such a young age.
Everybody grieves differently, but anyone who has endured an overwhelming tragedy absolutely understands the loss and all of the emotions that come with it. And Jane the Virgin is doing just that in a realistic way.
With that, here’s what the dramedy has so far gotten right about the grieving process.
1. Reality is overwhelming
No matter how much time has passed, reality is always there waiting. For Jane, she’s been trying to cope with Michael’s death all while making her writing dreams come true and being a great mom to her son, Mateo. Finding that balance is difficult, not to mention beyond overwhelming. Sometimes it’s easier to ignore reality and drown your sorrows in grief, but then there are moments where you’d rather go about your daily life and forget about grief altogether. Basically, reality can be a major bitch when dealing with loss.
2. Time doesn’t heal all wounds
Unlike the common phrase claims, time actually doesn’t heal all wounds. Whether it’s been one day, three months or 20 years, grief is always there lurking behind you. Sometimes you have a good day and then sometimes you have a bad day. That’s something Jane has now realized. Even though it’s been three years since Michael died, she still hurts and cries.
3. Anxiety and panic attacks
As showcased in Season 3, Episode 12, Jane suffers from anxiety and often gets panic attacks regarding Michael’s death. That is quite common among many individuals who have had to say goodbye to someone they love dearly, including myself. It’s like your body can’t keep up with all of the emotions, heartache, stress, sadness and everything else that comes with grief and you end up in a total panic.
4. Anything can trigger emotions
Whether it be a favorite song, a favorite color, a favorite number or a favorite food, anything and everything can trigger emotions. That happens often with Jane whenever she sees something that reminds her of Michael. Rarely do I, like Jane, ever go a day without watching, reading, hearing or seeing something that makes me think of my brother.
5. There is both darkness and light
As Alba told Jane in one episode, “We need to let some light in.” With the death of a loved one, the darkness can be immense. Depending on the day, you’ll feel like staying in the darkness rather than stepping into the light. The highs and lows are unpredictable, but you certainly feel both.
6. Things will forever be “different”
As time goes on, living your life doesn’t become easier, but rather different. That’s the only way I can think of describing it, and clearly Alba gets that as well. “And your life will be beautiful again, just in different ways,” she told Jane in one episode. I couldn’t have said it better by myself.
7. Grief is complex
Jane’s ups and downs show that grief is beyond simple. There may be the so-called “stages of grief,” but as someone who knows a thing or two about it, I do not believe there is a rulebook on the right or best way to grieve. It is complex and one of the most difficult things to understand or explain unless you can relate to someone who knows exactly what you’re feeling.
8. Keeping someone’s memory alive
Despite saying goodbye to Michael three years ago, Jane continues to keep Michael’s memory alive. That’s truly hard, especially when the person is no longer here in the flesh. It’s one of the reasons Jane enjoyed talking to Michael’s old partner, Dennis. She likes hearing new things about Michael because it keeps him alive a little. Not everyone likes to talk about the death of a loved one, but I prefer to do so for exactly the same reasons as Jane.
9. Being happy is OK
There are times when Jane is happy, like whenever Mateo makes her smile or when she got her book deal. Guess what? That’s OK. Just because someone dies doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to feel happy, smile or bask in the light.
10. Grief never goes away
Three years later and Jane is still grieving Michael, which goes to show you that grief never goes away. There are some days that are better than others, but unfortunately, when someone you love deeply dies, grief is always there tapping you on the shoulder.
Thank you, Jane the Virgin, for realistically portraying grief and helping others understand what it’s like to say goodbye forever to a loved one.
Jane the Virgin airs Mondays at 9/8c on The CW.
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