Netflix's After Life is a show about how a man grieves the passing of his spouse and has to come to terms with her death. Here are three of the most important lessons the series teaches its viewers.
After Life is a great series that deals with grief and acceptance, which is written by Ricky Gervais.
The difficult emotional stress and situations that Tony embarks on after the passing of his wife due to cancer is one that Ricky Gervais tells with themes of suicide, dark humor, family, and grief.
Losing a spouse is a great loss for anyone. The whole purpose to find the one is to be with that one and the loss is mostly unbearable.
If you know anyone who might be going through something similar or you are experiencing the same yourself, please take note of the following as it might just help them/you find some form of solace in these extremely sensitive times.
It is okay to grieve but not okay to take advantage of others' sympathy
After Life hints towards displacement aggressiveness, which is the psychology behind Tony Johnson's increasingly resentful behavior.
When we feel resentful or angry about something but are unable to aim our emotions at the source, displacement aggression is the result. Violence may be one way that this shows up in our darker moments.
However, Tony deals with this by constantly picking on his colleagues and throwing pranks that only he would find amusing.
While it is perfectly understandable and highly encouraged to grieve for the loss of a loved one, it is not acceptable to take someone's sympathy as an invitation to introduce chaos into their lives, even if it gives the griever a moment of happiness.
The message that After Life is attempting to impart is that you can't truly achieve happiness by trying to make other people as miserable as you are.
You might have a brief spike of sadistic pleasure, but happiness and pleasure are very different things. Choosing the shortcut to feel something positive has never done anyone any good. This brings me to my next point.
Taking those small steps of coming to terms with everything takes time
Tony's slight adjustments are evident in the third season. He makes an effort to be kind and helpful to others, as opposed to not caring about anyone.
Tony advances from arranging dates for his buddies to giving money to the cancer ward. From the start to the end of the series, we see the arc of Tony from being suicidal to helping others with a smile. It did not happen overnight.
He took small steps in the right direction for three whole seasons. His first step was admitting that he is not all there and that it would take time for him to get his footing back. He later started to share his grief with people.
Taking time out to care for his dog, clean up his house, and make new connections, all of these steps took time as they should. Also demonstrated by After Life, grieving is a recurring experience from which one will emerge stronger.
The passing of Tony's father in Season 3 has a negative impact on him. However, Tony finds a different way to cope—one that doesn't involve hurting other people.
Finding a routine to start the day goes a long way
If we can carve out some time to work on it, grieving is simpler to manage. This does not imply that you must or cannot experience any sorrowful feelings before your planned time.
What it does imply is that you strive to concentrate your attention on what is in front of you when it is not your "grieving time".
When you are in your "grieving time" you are able to reflect on your loss and take steps toward healing.
Tony handles this by waking up every morning to feed his dog and getting to work which allows him some structure to work with as a distraction from the grief he is constantly facing.
During his "grieving time", Tony rewatches videos of himself with his late wife and pours out his emotions, and usually falls asleep.
This routine helped him in his healing process as we could observe the drastic change his character has gone through from the first season to its last.
A routine may sound time-consuming, however, it's one of the best ways to tell yourself that no matter what happens, life goes on, and accepting that fact is the first step toward mentally healing.
It does not mean that one is showing disrespect to their loss, it is simply an act of pushing oneself towards the path of recovery.