The Lessons of Losing a Fictional Loved One

December 5, 2013 — 6 Comments

In a world of real loss, this post may seem insensitive but stay with me.

On one of my favorite shows on television, The Walking Dead, one of the main characters is killed. His name was Hershel Greene and served as a patriarch to the group of people trying to survive the zombie apocalypse. Over the past few seasons we have gotten to know him better and his wisdom became clearer with his smooth Georgia accent. Hershel seemed to be a devoted husband before losing his wife during the apocalypse. He was also a father of two girls and tried to be as good of a father as possible despite the circumstances of the world falling apart. His clothes were tattered, wore suspenders and throughout the story his beard grew longer and more scraggly. When he died, it was as if we lost a lion. I was stunned by his loss and for the next few days I’ll admit, I kind of grieved. I thought I was ridiculous to grieve for a person I didn’t know let alone even exist. Then I realized that the reason I grieved was because I connected so deeply with the idea of Hershel.

Hershel was a walking and talking, wise Proverb. Hershel was a central voice of reason through the past few seasons of the show and felt almost like another father for the viewer. He sure was to me. He was far from perfect and full of rich humility acknowledging publicly when he was wrong. In the group’s darkest days, Hershel’s words would provide comfort and guidance to everyone.

You walk outside, you risk your life. You take a drink of water, you risk your life. Nowadays you breath and you risk your life. You don’t have a choice. The only thing you can choose is what you’re risking it for.

hershel

I loved Hershel because he was such a genuine character, made for a great book and for a great show. Legendary teacher of story through film, Robert McKee shares in his book Story

“True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure – the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character’s essential nature.”

Hershel was character. I will miss Hershel but I am also reminded that to love a character you must risk losing him or her. Losing Hershel also shows us that sacrifice is important. We run toward a safe life yet our heart screams out for real adventure. Characters like Hershel remind me that we have a short time on earth and life is worth risking.

To risk is to live. 

Hershel carried a beautiful worn leather Bible with him throughout the show. I think if he were sitting next to us today he would share where he derives his wisdom. He would share something like this.

Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure. – Proverbs 4:25-26

Who is your favorite fictional character? Why? 

6 responses to The Lessons of Losing a Fictional Loved One

  1. 

    Thanks David for posting this. Hershel deserved a memorial of some sorts. I took my three kids, wife, and mother in law to Senoia GA this past weekend to see where the Woodbury scenes were shot for WD.

  2. 

    I have always enjoyed and can resonate with Eponine from Les Miserables. I have memorized the story and soundtrack for about 20 years. Eponine, she is a fighter, not a lover; because she fights with passion…for everyone and everything. And she is overlooked by everybody. But, she never gives up on love for the people in her life, she literally fights to the end, to her death. She’s a beautiful soul. I just love her!!!

    Great blog post!!

    • 

      Kristina, you captured it so wonderfully. Eponine is such a classic heroine and I think she is stronger in our hearts because of her death. Thank you for sharing and for your nice words about the post. This one has been wonderful to write.

  3. 

    A fitting tribute to an amazing character.

    Reminds me of the story of the mother who wrote to CS Lewis concerned that her young child loved Aslan more than God. Lewis’ reply to her was something along the lines of, “Don’t worry, what your child loves about Aslan is the character of God in him.”

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