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Pop CultureOctober 25, 2022

The giant TV that helped me through grief


For the last few decades, digital technology has played a huge role in our lives. In partnership with Panasonic, we’ve written a few odes to some of our favourite pieces of home tech. Here, Sam Brooks celebrates his giant TV.

I remember the day of my grandmother’s death with a bizarre amount of clarity. It might be because it was a long time coming – she had spent just one month in a rest home after several months in and out of hospital. It might’ve been because I was her only living relative, and responsible for all of the things that you have to do when your next of kin dies. It might’ve been because of that unique emotion that comes after a prolonged, eventually fatal, illness – a cocktail of relief, guilt and regret.

It might also have been because I bought a 65” inch TV (a Panasonic TH-65DX740U, if you’re curious) about three hours after she passed away, and it has taken up residence as the centrepiece of every living room I’ve inhabited since. As well it should. It has been a constant companion of mine for eight years now, standing sentinel over my existence, watching me (metaphorically) as much as I watch it (literally).

A massive, unignorable screen that takes up a good portion of my living room wall is a decidedly clunky metaphor for grief. It’s the kind of metaphor that an editor would circle in red ink with the note, “needs more work, also are you all good???”. But more than a metaphor, my TV has been a literal source of comfort for me in the years since.

Looking back now, as a man in his thirties, it’s abundantly clear that buying a massive TV screen (along with a PS4 and The Witcher 3) was a pretty direct way to stave off the grieving process. I spent the week after my grandmother died, with the exception of usual funeral things, more or less glued to the screen, clinging to a world before I was the only person left in my family. Eventually, processing my grandmother’s death actually started to happen – all the deeply dull five stages of it – and so did the process of coming out the other side of that grief.

When I think of my core memories in the eight years since I’ve bought this TV, a lot of them revolve around the screen. I remember me and my best friend sitting down to watch every new season of BoJack Horseman with a bottle of whiskey, not stopping until we’d finished both. I remember waiting for each new episode of Drag Race during lockdown, and then marvelling as I watched the drag queens, clearer on this screen than they would be in person. And honestly, I remember the hundreds, if not thousands, of hours I’ve spent playing games, watching TV and listening to music on it, a massive, human-sized gateway into worlds I wouldn’t have access to otherwise. Or at least not at such a scale.

I’ve had this TV for eight years now, and it’s not a purchase I regret at all. I wouldn’t go so far to call it a tribute to my grandmother. The closest it gets is the fact that, just like she did, I keep my TV on as background noise, which I don’t think is an inherited trait so much as it is behaviour that just makes good sense.

I was sad that my grandmother died, so I bought something I wanted. The thing I wanted was a big TV. A TV so ludicrously large that certain camera angles make some people look literally life size. But as silly as it sounds, sometimes in the quieter moments I look at this big shiny thing and think of my grandma. And even if all the amazing things I’ve watched, played, or ignored on that screen weren’t enough to justify the purchase, that sure is.

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