The Walking Dead: Blame and guilt part of grief

The Walking Dead. 701. AMC.
The Walking Dead. 701. AMC. /

Grief has different stages. When characters die on The Walking Dead, fans sometimes want to find blame as part of their grieving process.

Actions have consequences. Sometimes they have results. They also have unintended consequences or ramifications. Domino stuff. Even the weather has unintended consequences.

Many times we can foresee the results of an action, but even if those results or big splashes are predictable, there are always ripples that we don’t know about and may never know about that are consequences of our actions at any time.

We can often trace the dominoes back to things that happened that set off other events that happened and led to certain things-good or bad. It’s all a circle and everything gets a return. But there are other events that happened that we aren’t even aware of and we can’t ever predict the way the dominoes will fall, no matter how carefully we set them up.

The Walking Dead is filled with the stages of grief. Our characters display behaviors that reflect the stages of grief in many ways almost all the time. They are always grieving the loss of their former lives. But they grieve the new losses as characters die or they experience other types of losses in the next world.

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The audience grieves as well and part of that grief process is anger. Anger is actually an active phase of grief. We are trying to pull ourselves out of denial and numbness so we find the energy by getting mad. We can’t change the outcome of the loss so we have to find somewhere to direct that energy.

Carl and walker. The Walking Dead - AMC
Carl Grimes and walker. Chandler Riggs and Kevin Galbraith. The Walking Dead – AMC /

That’s where blame seems like our friend. It’s a place to direct our anger. Blame and guilt. The characters blame themselves and feel the heaviness of guilt. The audience doesn’t have the luxury of guilt so they turn to blame. Blame Carl for Dale dying. Blame Rosita or Daryl for Glenn dying.

As Bob told Tyreese in his dying hallucination, that’s bull shit. Martin’s domino shit sounds good, but we’re not dominoes, we’re people and we are not standing in predictable patterns that will topple in a cool spiral trick.

Daryl couldn’t have predicted what Negan would do when he instinctually jumped to Rosita’s defense. We can play the “what if” game all day, but things are the way they are. The last stage of grief takes quite a bit of time to reach–letting go and accepting the loss.

That doesn’t mean you like it or you’re not sad. You just accept that it can’t be changed no matter how much bargaining you do or how angry you get. That stage takes time and doesn’t always last. We flip back into sadness, denial, anger or bargaining even after some time has passed.

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Some of the conflict between characters and between fans comes when they are in different stages of grief at different times. Some fans get angry while others are still numb and not ready for such harshness. Some fans direct their anger at other fans as part of their own grief.

I don’t know why, but I am not a big blamer. It’s just not where my brain goes. I’m not big on guilt either. I feel bad about a lot of things, but I don’t feel guilty. I guess I got some kind of free pass from the guilt that you’re supposed to get from a Catholic upbringing. I had a groovy 70s CCD teacher!

My mom is the queen of feeling guilty about everything. I always tell her that guilt is useless. She shouldn’t feel guilty unless she did something wrong. Blame and guilt for unintended consequences have the unfortunate effect of creating even more unintended consequences.

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Daryl and Rosita’s guilt about Denise got them captured. But I don’t blame them. They were doing what they thought was best with what they knew and the emotions they were dealing with at that time. That’s the most any of us can do. They had good intentions.

And even though they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I don’t think those who have the good intentions enter hell. I think the paving of the road is enough hell for them. I guess that’s more of my groovy Catholic Sunday school influence.