Resources for Loss

"Goodbye Mr Hooper" from Sesame Street, contributed by Emily Parke (2021)

After the death of the real-life actor who played Mr. Hooper (Will Lee), a shop owner on Sesame Street, it was decided that his death would be written into an episode of the show. In this scene, Big Bird displays all of the reactions we would expect from a child (or any adult) confronted with the loss of a loved one for the first time. There is confusion about why someone has left, anger and frustration over why they cannot come back, and fear that nothing will ever be the same. Yet, with the support of understanding friends who do not try to hide the reality of death, making sure to use direct words and phrases like “died” and “never coming back”, Sesame Street reminds audiences that “we can all be very happy that we had a chance to be with him, to know him, and to love him a lot when he was here”. Dealing with the topic of death was undoubtedly difficult for a children’s show, but I feel that Sesame Street’s portrayal of loss and grief is one of the most honest and empathetic ones I have ever seen. It teaches people of all ages that it is okay to be confused, upset, and angry about death, but also that the dead live on through happy memories shared by the community.

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