“Sorry for Your Loss” is a story of grief and transformation. It gives an intimate view of what the loss of a spouse is like by following Leigh Shaw’s life after the death of her husband. The show explores grief, depression and what it’s like for those of different races and the way relationships change after a major life shift.
Set in California three months after the death of Leigh’s husband, “Sorry for Your Loss” launches viewers into the middle of the story. At first, it doesn’t let the audience know how Leigh’s husband died and instead reveals information slowly through the use of flashback. However, eventually it is shown that, while the exact circumstances of his death are unknown even to Leigh, he was clinically depressed.
As the show progresses, Leigh continues to search for why and how her husband died, suspicious that he may have committed suicide — a conclusion his brother, Danny, has also come to. It is difficult for them to prove this though and so Leigh must continue with her life.
“Sorry for Your Loss” opens with Leigh at a grief group and then shifts to her mother waking her up to go to work. Leigh, her mother Amy and her sister Jules all work at Amy’s yoga studio. Amy’s and Jules’ lives serve as interesting subplots throughout as well.
The opening scene gives an immediate insight to grief, particularly the way Leigh grieves. Instead of just coming to group and expressing whatever thoughts she might have, she brings a notebook and a story from the week to share with the class, while still being resistant to the structure of the group — things like saying “thank you for sharing” and other mushy sentiments. It is clear to the audience that she would rather grieve alone.
The shift to the waking up scene gives further insight. The room starts completely black, like a void she could never escape from, and she protests being woken up by her mother. It is immediately juxtaposed with a flashback scene of Leigh and her husband waking up together. He is also reluctant to wake up, but audiences won’t realize until later that the juxtaposition is a foreshadowing of issues revealed later.
As Leigh works to return to normal life, she must drag herself out of the abyss she has been living in for three months, and face that her grief is at times selfish. Later in the show, as she tries to force herself to be happy at a spontaneous birthday party, she must also realize that while she may be better, she doesn’t have to be perfectly fine all at once. Her relationships with her mother, sister and brother-in-law all help her to get through her grief.
Her relationship with her sister Jules, and Jules’ subplot help Leigh and the audience realize her selfish tendencies. Jules has been grieving the loss of a brother, but Leigh is unable to recognize this because she is so absorbed in her own feelings.
Leigh’s other relationships are also explored within the show. Although her mother has been there for her through her grief, she tends to lash out and take advantage of her. Leigh and Amy are forced to recognize that their relationship is shifting, and Amy must come to terms with her daughters being independent women. She comes to realize that she is lonely and needs to find her own life to live.
“Sorry for Your Loss” also gives a unique insight to interracial marriages, before and after her husband’s death. Through the use of flashback, it explores the difference in family dynamics between Leigh’s and her husband’s families before his death.
Before her husband’s death, Leigh’s relationship with her brother-in-law was at best nonexistent and at worst hostile. However, their shared grief brings them together, despite their disagreements, and they eventually come to understand each other. Toward the end of the first season, they are even close to being friends.
At a scene involving a family dinner, it is made clear that his family doesn’t want to discuss difficult topics, such as depression. This sentiment is even more obvious after his death as Leigh tries to find out more about her husband’s illness through his mother. Danny tries to prevent her from doing this and is very upset when she does anyway.
Danny’s mother reveals that her son had depression, just like his father did. She admits to hiding the information from her children because her husband didn’t want it discussed. He, like many other African Americans, refused to recognize that he needed help and chose to suffer alone.
Leigh’s husband knew better than this and was medicated, but still largely chose to suffer in silence. This was a major point of argument between the couple during his life. Leigh, as viewers saw in the beginning, has an in-charge personality. She would always try to find ways to “fix” him, when that is not what he needed or wanted.
However, his secrecy may have caused Leigh more hardship after his death because she felt like she didn’t know him in life. This feeling pushes her into a mission-oriented mindset and she spends most of the first season obsessing over his last moments.
“Sorry for Your Loss” is a wonderful show that explores many difficult topics with finesse. It is relatable in its representation of family relationships, yet fresh in the way it tackles what could easily be sentimental subjects. Whether you are looking for a tear-jerker, an insightful exploration of grief or a little bit of both, “Sorry for Your Loss” is the show for you.
“Sorry for Your Loss” can be found on Facebook Watch and the second season is set to release in October 2019.