Grief. A word many of us dread ever knowing or merely understanding. Unimaginable pain tied with unimaginable power. WandaVision, a show released through Disney+ focuses on Wanda Maximoff’s (aka The Scarlet Witch) grief after losing her parents, brother and partner. Wanda, who most audience members know from the “Avengers” movies, finds herself in an alternate reality with other “characters” living in a sitcom-style town called Westview. In this reality, Wanda never lost Vision, her partner, and had the opportunity to marry him and live a normal American sitcom life. However, as the series continues on, we find out more about the truth behind Westview’s creation.
As many of us who have dealt with grief before know, the feelings of exhaustion, helplessness and pain become so strong and poignant, unleashing themselves out onto the world without one noticing or having enough time to recuperate. While watching WandaVision’s seventh episode, I related to the exact moment in which she created this alternate reality (Hex). The moment she released all her pain and anguish is what many of us dread doing and oftentimes have no control over. Although I obviously have no superhuman abilities–other than being able to sleep still–I find myself relating to the uncontrollable nature of grief, how, at times, you may be under the false impression of being fine but are suddenly met with an influx of hurt or regret.
Wanda entraps the original town of Westview in a Hex of her idealized life with Vision, causing many of them to lose contact with their families and, most importantly, awareness of who they are. Inadvertently, Wanda becomes the villain as her search for comfort comes at the cost of those around her. This point within the show made me realize how grief often villainizes those experiencing it. After dealing with the loss of my grandfather this semester, I reconfigured my form of “coping” and my way of being. I lost interest in pretending to be a superficial version of myself and sought out my very own reality of being my “actual” self. Through this process, my true feelings became apparent, which caused others to view me differently.
Throughout the series we learn more as to why Wanda’s grief was so unbearable. Wanda’s suffering wasn’t exacerbated by her superhuman abilities, but by what many of us feel is the hard-hitting weight of the world, the difficulty of standing when the constant crashing of painful waves withers away at your strength. In the series, we see that even a superhero like Wanda sometimes struggles to be strong. As I’ve been met with the compliments of my friends and family members who applaud the “strength” I’ve had throughout my life, I question whether or not I actually want to be “strong.” What is the true cost of being strong? Wanda’s sacrifices for the sake of mankind demonstrate her strength, but is this strength more valuable than being with the person she loves?
Wanda’s hesitation to give up her happiness is understandable. Monica Rambeau, a SHIELD agent who recently lost her mother, admits she’d bring back her mother if given the chance, a chance many of us long for. Regardless of her superhuman abilities, Wanda begins to accept the reality of being alone. The life she’s built to fill in that void begins to widen that gap. She realizes she’s become someone unrecognizable to the person she was when she was happy and with the people she loved most. This realization is one I’m still coming to terms with. With the deconstruction of who you once were comes the challenge of the different iterations that take form as you pick up the scraps. The version of myself today is not representative of the version of myself that existed before my grandfather’s passing. The connection Wanda makes is the final step towards acceptance of the passing of a loved one, and as I mentioned earlier is one I have not slightly made.
“What is grief if not love persevering?”
This line has kept me afloat throughout this ordeal. This definition of grief includes the positivity of love, the treasured emotion found between you and the person you’ve lost. I am slowly viewing my grief as a continuation of love, of my subconscious trying its best to latch onto the happy moments I’ve had with my grandfather. I find that Wanda’s realization is similar to my own, as we’ve both transitioned from viewing grief as pain and anguish as an invigorating fuel that pushes us to work harder until we meet those we’ve loved and lost again.