Spoilers ahead: Through the course of this post you might find a few spoilers about the Marvel show “WandaVision”.
Classic old school sitcom humour mixed with Marvel Cinematic Universe magic gives us WandaVision, two super-powered beings going through ordinary American suburban lives that might not be that ordinary after all.
What stood out to me about this show is the way it portrays grief and the loss of loved ones. Wanda has dealt with insurmountable grief. She was born in a war torn country, she lost her parents, she lost her brother and her partner Vision while they were saving the world. She also loses the life Vision envisioned them having.
Wanda’s grief is so unbearable for her that she creates a pocket dimension in which she keeps Vision alive. She has a future with him, has children with him and even brings her dead brother Pietro back to life. Her way of coping with grief was to create an entire dimension that resembles the classic sitcoms, what she thought was a good life as a little girl in war torn Sokovia.
Grieving and our experience with grief is an individualised process that varies from one individual to another and movement to movement. It involves so many factors that it’s unfair to categorise Wanda’s grief as abnormal or out of bounds and someone else’s grief as within the normal limits or “normal”.
Wanda, in her universe, is initially unaware of what she has done and tends to vacillate between her day to day life that is raising her children and dealing with her neighbours to having flashes of memory regarding her loss. She later on fully becomes aware of her loss and grief but chooses to protect her universe where Vision is alive with all her might even though it might not be really to the outside world.
She later on realises that she has to let Vision and the good life go. Wanda goes through a journey of denial, mourning her loss, and accepting her loss. Grieving is a journey in itself for most of us and it might not be expected or accepted in the world we live in. Often, there are certain rules laid down for grieving that might feel suffocating. Monica Rambeau instead of attacking Wanda for the way she was grieving attempts to understand that she is in pain and offers her a helping hand several times.
Bereavement might bring about immense turmoil both in superheroes like Wanda and us and many times lead to physical and mental health concerns. The grief duration may be prolonged and at times may be indefinite and the intensity depends from person to person. Although painful and destructive like in Wanda’s case grief might bring resilience; like in Wanda’s case she chose to save the people affected by the spell of the pocket universe and accept the loss even though it was unfair.
Most of us have this textbook version of what a grieving person can look like – but reality might be far from it. We may not grieve in the same way as the person in our heads and maybe someone we know may not grieve like that either. What the journey can look like and how far one will be at certain points in their journey can be extremely varied, and that’s okay. It may not be linear and it might be unfamiliar but it’s something we all will experience to varying degrees in our lives. Knowing that there is no normal or abnormal way to deal with it can be comforting.