Happiness Can be Found in the Darkest of Times
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Happiness Can be Found in the Darkest of Times, if One Only Remembers to Turn on the Light: A Comment Diversion

By Rob Payne | Comment Diversions | March 29, 2013 | Comments ()


Of late, I've had time to ponder the types of entertainment we gravitate toward when coping with grief and sadness in our lives. Most of the time what we choose to watch or read or listen to depends entirely on what we're "in the mood" for. But during the hard moments, when you feel helpless and sense the universe's unbearable unfairness, what we choose to take in seems to take on greater weight. It's cliche to say that entertainment allows us an escape from cruel reality, and that seems most trite and true when mourning. There's a reason every EMT and voluntary firefighter I've ever known has a deeply gallows sense of humor.

I've found that I tend to medicate with a healthy dose of the lighthearted and the childlike, if not the childish. No doubt escaping tragedy with comedy is fairly common, after all Zoolander had to be one of the first movies after September 11, 2001 to break $10 million at the box office for some reason. Audiences were just grateful there was something, anything to laugh at. (I recall enjoying Rat Race much more than I probably should have at the dollar theater around that time, too.) Just over a year later, when I lost my first grandparent, I took solace with Harry Potter, watching Chris Columbus' Sorcerer's Stone with friends before the midnight premiere of his adaptation of Chamber of Secrets. I quickly devoured the first four books in the series after that, reveling in the innocent charms of J.K. Rowling's fantasy world. Harry's origins, and the knowledge that none of us are truly alone in when loved ones are lost also, no doubt helped, too.

In the week leading up to my grandfather's passing, I found myself obsessively watching and listening to stand-up comedy, specifically the stylings of Paul F. Tompkins, Pete Holmes, Patton Oswalt, and Louis C.K. These comedians helped me laugh when I sorely needed a reason to do so. I've also been reading (finally) A Clash of Kings in George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire, and at much quicker pace than I did A Game of Thrones several months ago. Some of that is likely due to feeling the pressure of the HBO show's return, but as with Harry Potter, the historical fantasy is a not unwelcome reminder of just how common death and mourning are in the world, and that so many of us are lucky to live in times and places where these stories are mostly fictions and not our constant reality. I've only lost two close family members so far in my lifetime, whereas the lords and ladies in Westeros, and the small folk alike, fear every single news-bringing raven. Dark wings, dark words.

Indeed, these things only offer brief and transitory respite. But they're always there, these entertainments, to help us see through the black veil and find our way again. And to remind us that our favorite trifles aren't as trivial as they sometimes seem. So, I'm interested in my fellow Pajibans, distract themselves with during the tough times. Do you hedge toward lighter fare or the darkness, or both? Do you seek refuge in entertainment at all? If not, what's your go-to emotional salve?

To prove nothing is too embarrassing: I've also really gotten into USA's "Psych" in the past week. Your move.


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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • crosleys

    A couple of years ago I had this fairly protracted illness that kept me bedridden for a good two months, and I remember being in this kind of warped head space where it felt like everything in my life was moving on without me, I was going to be sick until the end of time, and so on. I decided I was DETERMINED to do the official "Bon-Iver-Stuck-In-A-Wisconsin-Cabin-With-Mono" thing, so I watched all of Northern Exposure for the first time -- which was pretty great, as it's both warming and has a kind of fever-dream quality to it that seems perfect for viewers who are vaguely delirious and/or possibly insane. I re-watch it whenever I'm feeling lost, I still find it incredibly comforting.

  • Mrs.P

    The year my dad died both Armageddon and Contact came out. I was a blubbering mess by the end of both movies (I should have known better). I really,really needed that release..but probably not in public. When I begin to really miss my dad I watch Streets of Fire, one of his favorite movies.

  • hippyherb

    When my mother died, all wanted to watch was English documentaries about history or travel. I still do that now whenever I am feeling crappy. My brain feels quite mellow after.

  • E-Money

    Doctor Who. It's so moral and hopeful and all about the good of humanity underneath it all. I had three very dark tragedies befall close friends all in the course of three weeks 6 months ago. I don't think a day went by I didn't watch an episode or two of Doctor Who in the months following.

  • Captain_Tuttle

    I read lighter stuff, but for viewing purposes I look for serious weepies - "The Way We Were" and "Shadowlands" are especially effective. I have to be alone, and then I can sob my freakin guts out as needed.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    For me, it's usually the most escapist thing I can find. That means anything fantasy or sci-fi related. Or dumb crime procedurals.

  • Grendel

    As long as the plot involves someone finding their place within a community, it works for me. So that includes basically every and any sports movie. Also, Almost Famous and School of Rock. School of Rock absolutely destroyed me the first time I watched it...

  • PQ

    Action films, the more explosions and brute fighting the better.

    I teach in a high-pressure school and it's fantastic switching off my brain when the stress mounts a little too high.

    And during my own battle with mild depression, I turned to anime and manga, the more ridiculous and slapstick the better, and Buffy was/is balm to the soul because there are so many moods within a season that it's easy to achieve emotional catharsis after a marathon.

  • Tinkerville

    To be honest I haven't lost anyone terribly close to me, but I suffer from depression and although I'm much better now that I've sough treatment for it, it took me years to admit that something was horribly wrong and I needed help. During that time, Harry Potter got me through the worst of it. It's almost hard to describe just how much those books helped me through some very dark times. I even wrote a letter to JK Rowling thanking her knowing full well that she'd never read it on account of the billions of letters she probably gets, but I just had to do it anyway.

    Anime and manga are like instant blankets for my soul. I'll just pull a random manga off the shelf and be much better for it after. Avatar: The Last Airbender (the incredible series, not the POS movie), Buffy, Miyazaki movies, and Pixar also went a very long way in helping maintain my sanity during the worst of it.

    I also have a weird habit of gravitating towards awful fantasy TV series when I'm down. Last time I went through a bout of sadness I marathoned Legend of the Seeker to a shameful degree. I think it's the combination of fantasy, which I adore, and the knowledge that the shows are so cheesy that everyone will live and it'll all be hunky dory in the end.

  • Bobbs3k

    Parker Lewis Can't Lose, in particular season 1 finale Parker Lewis Can't Win where Augie the janitor offers the follow advice: Life is a wonderful thing as long as you realize sometimes you're up,
    sometimes you're down, but you're never either one for very long.

    Put's things in perspective, plus those shirts man!

  • Brooke

    This post came at interesting time for me. My dad just died three weeks ago and my mother, understandably, is going through a rough time. She called me today and asked me to spend the weekend with her. At her suggestion we are going to eat comfort food and watch brain rotting chick flicks all weekend. I think it is a marvelous idea and I'm going to do everything I can to make sure it's all she wants it to be. I'm also going to be "teaching her how to Facebook" so we'll see how that goes. lol

  • Mitchell Hundred

    Looking up clips from Kids in the Hall or Monty Python on Youtube generally does it for me.

    Also sometimes I will put some jaunty music on my iPod and dance around while waiting for the bus, which makes it much easier to stay warm and much harder to be depressed. It also probably makes me look very weird, but all the people staring can go fuck themselves.

  • Return of Santitas

    When I was living alone after my marriage ended, I was also very alone in my city because the friends I'd moved there with had largely skedaddled somewhere more affordable by that point. So I had a lot of me time. I watched the entire run of Six Feet Under and pretended I was crying because of the show. Then I got my I've been done wrong on and watched all of Veronica Mars. The opening credits music to both those songs still take me back to that time when I was alone with myself. I came out better.

  • APOCooter

    Whenever I go through a breakup, I look desperately for a copy of Fools Rush In. It started in high school when my first real girlfriend broke up with me; more than that, I found out she had cheated on me with our boss, about 13 years her senior (yeah, it was messed up and I was a wreck). So I come home and turn on the TV and turn it to some pay cable channel. It had just started and I see Selma Hayak. Well shit, I had to keep watching. An hour and a half later, I realized I hadn't thought about that stupid.... yeah... at all. So that's been my go to.

  • Leigh

    Last year when my dog was dying of cancer, I had terrible bouts of stress-insomnia. Luckily Nick at Nite was running Friends reruns ALL NIGHT those couple of weeks. And the really good, early ones. That saved my sanity.
    Also when I am getting depressed, I gravitate toward watching or reading Anne of Green Gables/Avonlea. Her outlook on life always cheers me up, and I am also obsessed with vintage/historical clothing so watching it is a double win.

  • chanohack

    Okay, I just asked my boyfriend, "When your mom died, and you were sad, was there a movie you watched that made you feel better?"


    "A TV show?"


    "What did you do to feel better?"

    "I went to work."

    I conclude that there's a chance Pajibans are just weirdos, but at least we all have that in common. <3

  • Mitchell Hundred

    Maybe it's a guy thing, but I'm kind of the same way. Other things help, but often the best way for me to get through grief is to just get back into my regular routine.

  • chanohack

    A few years ago I lost a friend whom I saw every day to a car wreck. Up till then I guess I believed in fate and predestination, and I said shit like, "When it's your time to go, it's your time to go!" I started obsessing about weird stuff, like trying to find meaning in the last conversation I had with him (as if everything he did the day before he died was somehow more important), and thinking about how unfair it was that he just made one mistake driving, and that if he'd been two seconds earlier or two seconds later he would have been fine.

    It's (really really) dumb, but the film version of The Time Traveller's Wife helped me out a lot. I liked that the movie didn't center around fate (which was somewhat different from the book, but whatever). In that movie, nothing was *meant* to happen, it just happened. Oftentimes it happened out of order, but it still happened. Henry (the time traveller) couldn't change things, no matter how hard he tried, not because of fate, but because it had already happened. And you can't change what happens. It's permanent.

  • chanohack

    This is also when I learned the hard way that alcohol won't make your sadness go away. Tony died on a Friday in November. I got fucking wasted nine out of the next ten nights, which included two weekends, two days off of work due to snow, one day off for Thanksgiving, and my birthday.

    I drunk cried a lot, but it didn't really help.

  • Maya

    I like to watch the 1936 tearjerker Camille, with Greta Garbo and Robert Taylor. It's a slightly sappy love story with a sad ending, and it's great for when I need a good cry. Plus, Garbo is wonderful in it.

  • David Sorenson

    I find comfort in the similar. When my marriage was ending, it was around the same time that Louie was starting on FX and Don Draper was newly divorced on Mad Men. When I'm feeling lonely, depressed, or bitter, I tend towards shows with bitter, isolated characters like Sherlock, or House.

    As far as death goes, I prefer not to escape at all. I usually get together with those that knew them at a bar and drink to their memory.

  • TheOriginalMRod

    Sing-screaming "Let Me Roll It to Ya" always puts me in a good mood.

  • Malin

    The Princess Bride, Howl's Moving Castle, My Neighbor Totoro(seriously, that movie is like Prozac in anime form), While You Were Sleeping, Mean Girls and Crazy Stupid Love are my go to comfort movies. Watching any of these will usually make me feel better, no matter how bad a time I'm having.

    For my husband, it's Doctor Who or The Wrath of Khan

    For comfort reading, I, like Mrs. Julien, will turn to romance. There is something immensely comforting about the fact that no matter how dramatic the story lines get, you know that the book will end happily, and the couple will have their HEA.

  • Mrs. Julien

    She always wins.

  • MissAmynae

    Combination of cheesy fantasy novels, Archer, Disney musicals- especially the Lion King, and Tool- very very loudly on kick-ass headphones.

  • Mrs. Julien

    I love the header pic. Scenes where people light a candle against the darkness always make me cry. It is such a simple and eloquent gesture. The scene in Return of the King in which they light the series of signal fires from Gondor to Rohan (please don't stone me if I've got that reversed) makes me weep. Same thing with "You shall not pass!". I think there was one in The Two Towers as well. Now I'm crying at my desk. Not about this, I've got other stuff going on.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    That is my absolute favorite sequence of the entire movie trilogy. Goosebumps. Esp when you see the ones catching way in the distance.

  • Malin

    Me too. Goosebumps every single time. And every time I saw it in the cinema, I had tears in my eyes. Same with the Ride of the Rohirrim, which is just amazingly visualised.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Mine too

  • Mrs. Julien

    I've had an escapist entertainment fixation for over a year now. One that people react very badly to with breathtaking consistency. I only wish it was Harry Potter. Since February 2012, I have read about 162 books. 157 of them have been historical romance novels. Seriously: http://mrsjulien.wordpress.com.... Please note that the list name is The Shameful Tally. I can't stop. I've read all the good ones. I won't stop. I read mediocre ones. To try to break the cycle, but gently by staying within the genre while reading something socially-palatable, I tried to read Jane Austen, the great golden Godhead of romance novelists herself. Frankly, ignominiously, I was out of practice and the prose nearly killed me. I gave up and went back to something less challenging. (Just admitting that made me feel about 2 inches tall). I buy and borrow more. Thank god for my Kindle because I am insatiable and I really don't want people to see what I'm reading.

    I have given A LOT of thought to why I am reading romance novels. Mr. Julien, who was initially horrified, has attempted to psycho-analyze me about it. Now, he tells me to write one because, to him at least, that will somehow create intellectual validation for what I've been doing. I've psycho-analyzed myself about it, attempting to discover the reasons for my current exclusively cretinous taste in books. Seriously, WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? I have a degree in English literature for fu*ks sake. Am I secretly depressed? Openly depressed? It would be so much easier, rational, and socially-acceptable, if it's cause I'm really depressed. Does enjoying them me a bad feminist? Is it that I can’t face reality? Is my work life slowly destroying my soul? Is there a problem in my marriage? Is it a hormone thing?

    I try to be self-deprecating and self-basting, but I really am embarrassed by the romance novels, even as I tell people about my habit and preemptively react against their impending judgment, like some kind of delusional cultural warrior reclaiming a word that has been used as a weapon against people like me. Because, let me tell you, there is no other genre that brings as much judgment down upon its consumer. Romance novels, books written by and for women, are the lowest of the low in literary culture. The publishers judge me for it with childish pun-based titles and ridiculous cover art. My library judges me for it by tucking the books on spinners away from the "real books". I feel like the librarians judge me when I take out the books. I try to stash them in my purse quickly because I JUDGE ME. You’re judging me right now, aren’t you? Maybe not all of you, but say 93.6%. It diminishes my opinions about other aspects of culture, doesn't it, because I'm not "pure", because I’ve become some sort of literary bottom feeder. Occasional indulgences, sure, but over a year of exclusively historical romances? Patently ridiculous.

    This is the part where I should want to say, "well, fuck everyone and the horse they rode in on" for judging my taste in entertainment, but I can't because, and this is the truly shameful part, I resent your opinion, but as should be clear by now, I don't exactly disagree with it.

  • hippyherb

    I have gone through stages in my life where I will just read romances. There is a guaranteed happy ending, which is what I need.. The good romances also have enough of a story line to keep you engrossed, and that is all I am after. It is pure escapism. Nora Roberts is my favourite when I feel like crap, can't concentrate on anything too detailed and I want that happy ending.
    Also, you can read whatever the hell you want.

  • kucheza

    I *love* the Wallflower books. Although I do sometimes LOL at some of the more ridiculous parts,it's not hate-reading; I love the characters and love their happy endings. Oh and I'm a defiantly divorced feminist librarian. I don't care who wants to hate; I'll read what I want. FREEDOM.

  • Mrs. Julien

    I love them, too. Though not so much with Marcus. I re-read Devil in Winter to come down from blasting through Game of Thrones. They all have a Sebastian eventually but he's the best one.Lisa Kleypas is my gold standard.

    Have you tried Courtney Milan? She self-publishes e-books and is fu*king awesome. Start with Unraveled.

  • Uriah_Creep

    My 66-year old brother-in-law reads these books obsessively, as though they were essential to life. If you think you meet with much disapproval for your choice, imagine what he, an adult male, is subjected to. To his credit, he will not make any excuses and I admire him for it. Why not? He's agreat guy. Own it.

  • JenVegas

    As a fellow English Lit/Writing major there is NO SHAME in this. Romance ain't *my* thing but the number of pulpy, trashtasic horror books I have consumed in my lifetime is kind of ridiculous. Listen, it can't all be Austin, or even Harper Lee. Sometimes the brain wants what the brain wants and sometimes that is fluff and nonsense.

  • I understand the shame of this particular kind of fluff. A full third of my Cannonball reads last year were romance, and all by one author! My brain needs the break from my job, my family, everything, and these novels are built for that escapism. So, why not partake?

    But, as I told a friend recently - if you think you might be depressed and want to know for sure (and have health insurance) go see you GP and get the inventory done, just for piece of minds' sake.

    But there's no judgment from this corner.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Which author? I need fresh meat! (That was unintentionally, but delightfully, double entendre-y).

    I'm sure I'm not depressed. Things are actually really good. Which makes me feel even less justified for reading them.

  • So it's happy reading escapism! yay!

    I have read basically every book that Nora Roberts has written. The only gap is the ones she writes as J.D. Robb (I think??) I've read a couple, but not many.

  • tmoney

    Nora Roberts is my soul food. I share my books with my Grandma and feel no shame! They make for great audiobooks in the car.

  • Mrs. Julien

    The Dowager Julien is going through a similar phase, but with 87% more mortification. Even I tell her "you don't have to defend your reading choices". She reads everything by Nora Roberts and Nora Roberts pseudonym. Plus a whole lot of Julia Quinn. I can't bring myself to give her any Kleypas.

  • I think I started every CBR4 Roberts review (and maybe the ones for CBR5) with a veiled apology about how I was just taking a break from 'real' reading. It's pervasive for sure.

    I also went on a Maeve Binchy marathon a few years ago... does that count?

  • Mrs. Julien

    Now I'm wondering if I'm secretly depressed.

  • Return of Santitas

    At the gym we sometimes have "deload" weeks where, after weeks of lifting heavy shit, we give our bodies a break. I'm doing a PhD right now, and all I want to read in my spare time are Don Winslow novels about surfer PI's (PS, they are GOOD). Maybe our brains need to deload. Reading should be fun. Enjoy the tearing bodices.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Pleeeease tell me you read Rosemary Rogers, the dark sexy writer of my tormented teenage years. Oh, I haven't revisited her works, but man, they were dirty.

    My mom reads a lot of romance novels. It's not all she reads, but she's read a lot, as she used to run a storefront book exchange (which was 90% Harlequin as far as I can tell - Penny Jordan, Janet Dailey, et al) But she knows a LOT. She knew what a cicebo was while playing Balderdash because of a romance novel. (ok, tried to google it, that's a mistake, as it is a negro boy slave used as a page, almost a pet). A lot of the romance authors take the time to learn about their historical periods, and it can be educational.

    Oh, and I don't think the libraries segregate the romance novels to shame them - I would bet they put them on the spinners because they are the ones that move the fastest.

    I have also thought about writing them, thinking it would be easy money, but I don't have the ambition to cultivate a fandom.

    Just try not to judge the people who waste their lives consuming junk tv. It's much the same. At least yours is a little more active. And hopefully not too expensive a habit?

  • Mrs. Julien

    Not too expensive, no. Just expensive enough: used books, things cheap on Amazon, library books, using up gift cards. My Kindle file for these books is called "Shameful" (71 titles), as is my Amazon wish list. There is very little I am willing to pay full mass market paperback price (7.99) for.

    I did go back and try to read some old Kathleen Woodiwiss, Julie Garwood and Jo Beverly, but they were pretty dated. In my experience, the heroine's were really young (18-20), the heroes older (30 and up), and often he was an unrepentant bastard who she was nonetheless attracted to. Plus some power and sexual dynamics that made me really uncomfortable. (I'm going to give this a sweeping generalization score of 7.93/10.)

  • Malin

    I certainly don't judge you, but then I'm probably one of the people who can count as an "enabler", as I keep giving you new suggestions of authors to try out, and about half of the books I read a year are romance in some way, shape or form.

    I really don't think you should beat yourself up about what you're reading. You have, after all, read nearly 200 books in the last year and a half. I'm pretty sure that's more books than my older brother has read in his entire life. So what if they're a speculative fiction genre? Based on your Cannonball Reviews and observations about the books, you are still able to approach them critically and analytically.

    I think, that if you have a lot of other stuff on your mind in day to day life, your brain craves relaxation through fluffy books like romance, mysteries, fantasy or young adult. You've just got so much to think about that your brain can't deal with advanced prose. I work as a teacher, and it take a LOT out of me. I find that it's not that I *can't* read the grand classics (I'm slogging my way through one right now), it's that it's so exhausting, and I don't have the excess energy to spend on that. You should read what you enjoy. Sooner or later, when your brain is ready for "heavier" stuff, you will find that you can read Austen again. But never feel guilty about reading.

  • Mrs. Julien

    You are TOTALLY my enabler and I bless you for it.

  • Mrs. Julien

    At least I've just sewn up the TL:DR award for this week, so I got that going for me, which is nice.

  • Allijo

    I had "Psych" chanting in my head while I read this post. Then I did a Judd Nelson fist pump when I got to your last sentence. There's no bad mood that a Holmesian bromance, quality 80's pop culture references, and tiny blue car can't overshadow for 45 minutes.

  • PerpetualIntern

    I've been through a few dark periods, and during my first really bad one I discovered Buffy, which was already in its last season. I devoured the series, loved that there were real monsters to fight that were more tangible than my abstract ones, and escaped to Sunnydale whenever I could. The series STILL has that effect on me, and during my darkest times I still turn to it for comfort.

  • misslucyjane

    When my father died I was a broke grad student so movies were rarely possible, but since it was Halloween not long afterward, my friends took me to a costume party.

    During this last, very rough, year, I've watched and re-watched The Lord of the Rings, every James Bond film at least once, The Avengers and all the other recent Marvel movies, and so on. I'm not much of a romcom or comedy fan, but movies where good triumphs over evil always make me feel better.

  • MauraFoley

    When my dad was doing chemo I watched a lot of RHONJ.

  • When my parents decided to separate my junior year of college, I had just started reading Harry Potter. I credit those first four books with maintaining some semblance of myself-it was an incredibly difficult time in my life and those little wizards made me so happy.

    Right around the time my good friend Mike died in a car crash in 2003, my best friend and I had just started devouring Buffy on dvd. It was the perfect escapist show.

    Now I'm more likely to watch something that I already love whole-heartedly, like Happy Endings or Friends or Deadwood. Something that I don't have to think about and is comforting in its familiarity. When my grandmom died this October I went straight back to Harry Potter and my How I Met Your Mother dvds.

  • sweetfrancaise

    I watched a lot of shitty television to deal with my grief. Glee (first season, part of the second before I gave that up), HIMYM (for the Segal and Harris), and Grey's Anatomy (I needed 45 minutes of terrible melodrama to allow me to cry out what had built up). I also, at the time, watched all of Six Feet Under... a rather morbid way to deal with a death, maybe, but I needed something to focus in on how death HAPPENS and grief happens and it doesn't all disappear overnight and you never "heal" and there's never "closure". You just adjust to a new normal without your loved one calling you up to say goodnight.

  • tmoney

    When my son was stillborn, I found solace in Psych, Super Troopers, Dodgeball, and The Mummy. I needed laughs and comfort from movies that made me happy. Two weeks after, I went to "Act of Valor" with my husband and walked out halfway through. I needed light and silliness, and laughter healed my soul.

  • Mrs. Julien

    I would like to offer you a sincere and heartfelt hug. Seriously, I give great hugs plus I'm soft and squishy like a feather pillow.

  • tmoney

    Thank you, that really means a lot. Virtual squishy hug back.

  • Nat

    Just over 12 years ago, our dad suffered a massive
    hemorrhagic stroke that left him in a coma due to brain swelling. I got to the
    hospital a couple of hours after he was admitted and stayed with our mum for a
    few hours, but she hadn't notified my younger sister yet because she was
    worried that my sister, who drove a considerable distance to work, would be too
    shaken by the news to drive home safely. Not having cell phones or even an
    answering machine at home, we had no way of telling her, so she came home to an
    empty house and the living room furniture out of order (done by the EMTs in the
    course of getting my dad onto the gurney) and freaked out.

    came home before our mum and broke the news to her, at which point she was both
    very upset at the news and pissed that she hadn't been told earlier. Later that
    evening, seeking something to take our minds off our dad’s situation for a
    little while, we watched Il Mostro
    and managed not just to smile, but to actually laugh aloud. We will always be grateful
    to Roberto Benigni for making us laugh on the worst day of our lives.

  • maydays

    I agree with Rochelle...I just have to hide in a different world...doesn't matter if it's light or dark.
    After the recent passing of my grandfather I went straight for Apocalypse Z.

  • KatSings

    For me it's very case specific. If I'm looking to avoid or bottle whatever negative emotions I've got going on, then it's all old reliables - chick flicks and "children's" movies, preferably of the variety I've seen a thousand times. If I'm ready to get it out, or to wallow? Then I find the saddest shit possible. If I know I've been holding back for a long time and need to let go, the last resort (and this is the ONLY time I rewatch this) is to put on The Body, the Buffy ep where Joyce dies. I can't make it more than 10 seconds into that without hysterics.

    More often than not, it's the first route. My animated movies and chick flicks see the most rotation in my DVD player.

  • I lose myself into fantasy worlds. Piers Anthony's Xanth when I want a pun, David Eddings' Belgarian when I need to know that good will overcome the darkness. Lord of the Rings Online when I'm feeling violent and angry (hooray for killing orcs).

    As for music, when I'm sad and depressed or angry (which is a lot as I'm bipolar I, even medication doesn't erase the blues entirely), I listen to metal. My Chemical Romance (not metal, but I love their Welcome to the Black Parade album). Sonata Arctica. Metallica. Stratovarious. It always makes me feel better.

    My husband loves comedy, especially romantic comedies. For me I need horror movies, like Scream or Cabin in the Woods, to reach equilibrium. Comedy when I'm feeling blue just makes me angrier.

  • DeltaJuliet

    Piers Anthony's Xanth ....WOW! I haven't read or talked about those books in probably 20 years. Now I want to go buy them all and read them again. Thanks for the flashback!!!

  • Between the ages of 16 and 20 all four grandparents and my father passed away. In that time I watched A LOT of RomComs particularly anything with Sandra Bullock. Usually with a blanket for comfort. And the Pirates of the Caribbean movie. The first one. It was the first movie I saw in a theater after my dad died. I was literally dragged to see it by someone who cared for me a great deal just to break up the mourning. When it came out on DVD my mom, brother and sister and I probably watched it weekly for six months. It got us through.

    The last movie I saw with my dad? Finding Nemo. My family uses 'just keep swimming' as our mantra for anything that comes our way.

    When I'm in mourning I cannot focus on a book. Movies are about all I can handle because there is an end. Even TV shows can be problematic. When I'm depressed I dive into books in a way that is not quite natural, which is why think I've had some success in keeping pace in the Cannonball Read as I approach the 10th anniversary of my father's passing. It's getting gloomy around these mental areas.

    That said, take your solace where you find it. And remember to tell people how you are feeling. Often they will want to be of comfort to you and are looking to you for guidance on what you need. And its okay to say that you don't know.

  • periwinkled

    When grieving, I tend to bottle stuff up and rarely cry. So, I'll either distract myself with video games, or, if I feel like I want to vent my bottled grief, deliberately watch something sad. After my grandmother died, I tuned into Grey's Anatomy, a show I'd never seen, for the season finale because I knew it would be emotional. I cried, then felt better and could move on. But the bulk if the grieving process is video games.

  • fartygirl

    Big Bang Theory and The Joy Luck Club always fix everything for me.

  • Pinky McLadybits

    Rifftrax is always the answer, my children. If you can watch a Riffttrax and not feel better, I don't know what to do for you.

  • maureenc

    I got through an especially trying period of time thanks to British broadcasters' laxity (in 2008, at any rate) of submitting YouTube takedown notices. Eddie Izzard, Jeeves & Wooster, and Fortysomething were all particularly effective.

  • Ted Zancha

    TV: Anytime I need a pick me up, I put on Parks and Recreation. Seriously, the charm, wit, and joy coming from that show always makes me smile.

    Movie: As a child, when I moved away from Arizona to Iowa, I had a lot of troubles transitioning. I had left my mother and had started living with my dad. It was a really hard time for me and I would be angry, moody or cry at the drop of a hat. Usually to hurt my father. Which was right around the time Big Fish came out. I wept. Like my family had to sit in the theater with my after the credits rolled. It was so sad, but also so uplifting. Now, anytime I am low, I can put that movie on. Even though it was the first movie to make me openly weep, it still makes me feel good.

    Other feel good choices: The Harry Potter films, Louis CK (show or stand up), Community, and Doctor Who.

  • PerpetualIntern

    I love Big Fish so much. I convinced two strangers on a transatlantic flight with me to all tune our screens to it together. The flight attendants thought we were nuts when they came around to give us our dinner and we were all crying. Such a wonderful wonderful movie.

  • Anna von Beav

    Buffy. I mean, I watch it through all the time anyway, but when life gets really hurtful, it's extra comforting. Maybe in part because I already know what happens, unlike life. There are episodes that make me laugh, and episodes that make me cry, so I can choose which I prefer in that moment.

  • Whitney

    What works for me are the Lord of the Rings movies. Everytime. I plug it in whenever I feel like Frodo carrying that damn ring. Gandalfs speeches always make me feel better.

  • Rochelle

    For me it isn't about light or dark, it's about finding something so engrossing and long that I can lose myself. I marathoned through Battlestar Gallactica, the Dresden Files books, Futurama, and the Vicar of Dibley during the year my mother was dying.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Yup. I sat stone-faced - but thoroughly distracted - by JFK of all things immediately after my first big breakup.

  • poopnado

    After every break-up I watch Eternal Sunshine again and cry and cry. And laugh. It always reminds me of what I always forget, that although things turned sour in the end, I would never want to lose the happy memories or the lessons that I learned.

  • ccmontgom

    LOL (in a semi-sympathetic way) "After every break-up."
    Er.. you may be doing it wrong...
    Unless you dig the breakups, in which case, good on ya'.

  • poopnado

    Yeah, I pretty much do this after every date, cuz I just get that attached.

    I would say I've done this 3 times in 10 years. But thanks for judging, ya douche. :-D

  • FireLizardQueen

    Oh yes! I watch Eternal Sunshine every year!

  • Maguita NYC

    After my father passed away, I got emotionally stultified for a while and felt very numb. Simply needed to keep still. What felt like a tight fist smothering sorrow mute, finally let up when I went back to watch two of my favorite movies: The Big Blue and The Mission.

    You cannot stifle your emotions when first hearing Ennio Moricone's sorrowful notes. It breaks that hold that you have on yourself and everything literally leaks free. Safely in the confines of your home. As for the Big Blue, I've always found the sounds and colors of the Mediterranean soothing, yet strangely nostalgic. Whenever Jean-Marc Barr is running on those sea-salt covered rocks, I feel the burn on the soles of my feet. And whenever he dives under that deep dark blue, I hold my breath and feel at peace.

    Great post Mr. Payne, as always, the simplicity of your tributes are pure poetry. Happy Easter to all the Pajibans, including the contributors.

  • MikeRoorda

    My solace is generally found in video games. There's a story to follow, short and attainable goals that give a sense of accomplishment upon completion and they keep me mentally occupied so I don't run around the "this sucks and everything is awful" track in my head too often. If it's REALLY bad I even pick games with a sense of levity and adventure without heavy handed lessons and moralizing involved. (More Uncharted and less Heavy Rain.)

  • Ted Zancha

    Yeah, if you are down, Heavy Rain is NOT the game to play.

  • FireLizardQueen

    Only thing that's worked for me is trying stop my brain from trying to think. So I bury myself in something, be it a TV show or a book series. It has to be long and involving. For example, when I got laid off I watched every episode of (the new) Doctor Who and Farscape... obsessively back-to-back.

  • AudioSuede

    I've been feeling massively depressed of late. Serious, clinical shit. The only thing that truly makes me feel like the world is going to be okay? Aaron Sorkin. I could down The West Wing into my gullet with a funnel. Even the later seasons; watching Jimmy Smits give a rousing patriotic speech is enough to get me through the day.

  • chanohack

    My depression is usually fueled by loneliness. Have you ever seen that John Wayne movie, Hatari? Where John Wayne and a bunch of people live in Africa and their job is to catch animals for zoos? PETA would have a field day with it. The movie has small subplots but mostly NOTHING happens for two and a half hours, it's just a bunch of friends solving minor, day-to-day problems, like "someone left the ostrich cage open!"

    I stole it from my dad in college and I've probably watched it twenty times. It's lame, but it makes me feel like part of a team.

  • Oh, god yes. Aaron Sorkin's West Wing is genius.

  • AudioSuede

    Yes. Also, I'm a huge Studio 60 fan, and nothing gets the weepies out of me like watching the Christmas episode of that show.

  • NateMan

    I'm all about Light: Especially now that I have a little kid, I can't deal with traumatic movies, television, or books. Favorite flick right now is Rise of the Guardians; it's beautiful animation with a very light and yet heartfelt storyline, at least to me. I also gravitate towards stupid action flicks, things where I can just cheer as bad guys get blown away and not feel the slightest bit of guilt, cuz they're really damaged or misunderstood. Hell with that; I want completely unsympathetic bad guys, and good guys that go GRRRRRR! while they stand up for truth, justice, and apple pie.

    Also, I want apple pie.

  • DeltaJuliet

    In my experience, there is never a bad time or mood to watch Harry Potter.

  • E-Money


  • Mrs. Julien

    We watched Harry Potter and the
    Goblet of Fire
    after the Sandy Hook tragedy thinking it would be
    light and escapist. It was all going so well until Cedric died and his father
    was weeping over his body. Now that movie is inextricably linked to the horror
    of real world events.

  • AudioSuede

    Especially with the Rifftrax.

  • Kayla Eric

    If you think Aaron`s story is unbelievable..., last pay-cheque my friend's brother basically brought home $5859 putting in a fifteen hour week from there house and the're best friend's aunt`s neighbour done this for 8-months and made over $5859 in their spare time from their labtop. applie the instructions from this website, Mel7.com

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