Mourning and Memorial: Finding Catharsis in Art

Last night I finally watched the tribute to Cory Montieth on Glee Season 5 Episode 3 (don’t judge, we all need our guilty pleasures). I had been looking forward to seeing how they dealt with his sudden death. I was blown away.

All fiction, great or otherwise, is based on reality. A story may have unicorns, but the idea of the unnatainable beautiful, wild thing is true in real life, as well. The line distinguishing reality from fiction is usually easily identifiable, and the polarization of the two is held in tact. But sometimes the line becomes so blurry it is difficult to compartmentalize the two.

Case in point, the aforementioned episode of Glee.

Early in the show, it was stated that they did not need to talk about the cause of death of the character, just that he was gone. With this comment, the creators blurred the line between fiction and reality, while also honoring the life lost.

The line was further blurred by the raw emotion with which the actors honored us. While watching Rachel, Kurt, Santana, Puckerman, and Mercedes mourn for Finn, we also saw Lea, Chris, Naya, Mark, and Amber mourning for Cory. Not just pulling from another experience, but pulling from that experience.

Just as “writing what you know” makes writing better, so acting what you know makes acting better. Pulling from personal experience brings out a more convincing emotion or reaction. But this was different. This wasn’t acting.

Something I couldn’t help thinking is how special this memorial service is to the mourners. Whether they identified with the feelings of their character or not, performing the grief of their characters is a very special way of processing their own grief. The actors were able to present emotion and process emotion through their art.

Thanks to the cast and crew for letting us take part in Cory’s memorial. It was an honor to see your hearts splayed open.

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