Four months ago today, Parks and Recreation producer and author Harris Wittels died of a suspected drug overdose. Since then, his colleagues and friends have paid tribute to him, including Amy Poehler, Aziz Ansari, and Sarah Silverman. But now, his older sister Stephanie Wittels Wachs has published an essay chronicling the time that has passed since his death in February, following the painful, winding road of grief. It’s a stunning, excruciating essay about how much love she had for her brother, the nerve of TMZ to leak the death before their mother found out, the nonsense of the funeral, the unfairness of everything about every minute after she received the phone call with the bad news.
Here is an excerpt:
The public response to such a personal tragedy is simultaneously comforting and horrifying. That first week, you are a trending topic. My entire Facebook feed is you — podcasts, photos, videos, quotes, articles, tributes, blog posts, tweets. Strangers send beautiful messages and flowers. Someone off the Internet even painted a portrait of you that’s now hanging in our house. But then Leonard Nimoy dies and your position of “tragic dead celebrity of the week” is usurped. By the end of Week 2, neither of you are news anymore and everyone goes back to bitching about traffic, making jokes, and sharing baby milestones.
Nothing makes the pain worse than seeing that everyone else has the ability to move on while you’re still stuck. I think, “People are the worst.” And, then I hear you tell me they mean well. And, they do. They really do.
Forget dealing with grief. We now have to deal with grief in the age of the internet, where we share everything and have to know everything, until we find the next thing and then move on. At least until the day when someone posts something that keeps masses sticking in cement, while the frenetic storm of the internet keeps crashing and blowing around them.
By the time she reaches the end of her essay, Wittels Wachs feels better than she did at the beginning. But anyone who doesn’t understand the feelings they feel while grieving would probably find solace in her words. Maybe they won’t match their sentiments exactly, but maybe they’ll at least find a companion in their grief.
We strongly recommend reading the whole essay on Medium.