How I Met Your Mother: Coping with Death


In one of my favorite television shows, How I Met Your Mother, one of the main characters, Marshall Ericksen’s, father dies. Death in the show is portrayed dramatically and really emphasizes the fact of last words. In the wake, the family members go around and discuss to each other what their last words were with the deceased and Marshall realizes that he didn’t have a “final” moment so to speak with his father and it changes how he deals with his father’s death. This portrayal is useful because it makes the viewer think of how he or she should treat their family before they pass and not knowing if their encounter would be the last one.

Its unfortunate to think, but a lot of the times when someone dies in the family there may be other family members that weren’t talking to the recently deceased for various reasons such as a quarrel or disagreement that they had with each other. Thus, they seriously regret that fact and have guilt because they realize they should have put their differences aside and reconciled. The show does a good job at making the audience think about their current life and reflect on the fact that there may be some people they aren’t talking to and it may make them reconsider what really is important in life.

Media in general  portrays a diverse ideal of death and how to cope with it. In the show, as stated before, the main way that the characters coped with the death of Marshall’s father was to reflect on their last words. Another way the characters coped was through laughter. Marshall’s best friends, Ted and Barney, tried to show Marshall funny videos of animals to try and make him laugh. This illustrates a different portrayal of how society deals with death.

One of the ways to cope with death and a depressing moment in ones life is to be around friends, have a good time, and talk about what is of concern. It is a stress reliever and clears ones mind for a while. This show uses these ways to portray how society deals with death and dying. Finally, the only thing that this particular show doesn’t do is support the idea that America is a death denying culture. They very  much accept the fact that Marshalls father died, but what they really focus on is the coping mechanisms that are used throughout the episode and even a few episodes afterwards to deal with death.  Since it was a one episode event, the show quickly picked up and didn’t portray the grieving process that normally occurs in individuals who experience this traumatic event.



3 thoughts on “How I Met Your Mother: Coping with Death

  1. I don’t watch this show all of the time but I have seen a few episodes. I wasn’t aware of one of the characters dying but after reading your blog I think it does a great job of portraying societies ways of grieving. In class we even talked about how humor is often used to cheer people up or relieve the awkwardness when you don’t know what else to say. Every time I’ve seen this show it is so hilarious so I could only expect them to use the humor aspect in an episode where someone has died. I probably would have never even noticed the relationship I would have just thought they were being funny in the show but since reading this blog and taking this class I would now be able to tell their humor is actually a coping process with a death.

  2. How I Met Your Mother is also one of my favorite shows. The show is full of comedy and never fails to make me laugh. The episode you are referring to here, when Marshall’s father dies, was so unexpectedly sad.I can honestly say I cried when I watched it. I really applaud the writers of the show for making this episode, even though it was incredibly sad. The death of Marshall’s father was something unexpected but it was portrayed very realistically. I think in our daily lives we don’t think about death too often, and in the show, which is a comedy, they don’t touch on sad subjects. The characters in the show along with the viewers were not anticipating any deaths in the show, which is so much like real life. It’s fine to have fun and be funny but I think there is always an appropriate to mourn and be sad. Death is not always expected and I think the writers did an excellent job of incorporating it into the show.

  3. First of all, I love this show! The characters are so genuine… and also, I feel like the way they portray Marshall’s dad’s death and the aftermath is very genuine as well. Everyone has different ways of coping with the death of a loved one, and the realization that they’re not coming back, be it humor, denial, or withdrawl from the world… It can be especially difficult if you feel like there were things left unsaid or undone between you and the departed. That’s why it is so important to live as if every day is the last day you (and others around you) will experience on earth… because you never know when it actually will be.

    I really liked that this show didn’t try to gloss over Marshall’s father’s death in any way… rather, it was about the characters sticking together and using methods to face their grief, cope with it, and eventually make peace with an irreplaceable loss.

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