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Grieving the End of ‘Supernatural’ – the Show That Helped Me Survive Mental Illness

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“The point is that they were here at all and you got to know them…When they’re gone, it will hurt, but that hurt will remind you of how much you loved them.”  Castiel 

March 22nd will never be the same.

It was months ago but I still remember it like it was yesterday. I was at work, standing at the host podium while I waited for the next set of guests to arrive. It was mid-afternoon so it wasn’t too busy.

When I got the notification that Jared Padalecki had tweeted, I didn’t think much of it. Even as I read the message, I didn’t think that day would become one of the hardest in my life. It wasn’t until I opened the video, volume soft so I didn’t get caught by my boss, that I realized Supernatural is ending.

Supernatural, the show that has helped me in every way imaginable, would not be getting another season. After May 2020, that’s it. The show would be over. A new program, one that will never hold as much meaning to me, will undoubtedly take its current 8 p.m. time slot on Thursdays.

I was never a crier but I remember standing at the podium, having to continually blink my eyes because I couldn’t get past it. I knew it was coming  —  how long can a show go on? But I thought I had time. I really, really did.

It’s now December. If I think about “Supernatural” too long, I get this deep, dark feeling in my chest that I can’t quite name. I have felt pain my entire life but nothing like this. It’s a despair I don’t know how to get past — one that I’m almost embarrassed to acknowledge, despite it being so real.

I have lost television shows before. The one I most prominently remember is “Psych. It ended on a good note but I was longing for more. Why couldn’t they just do one more season? Hell, one more episode? Why did it have to end there when I still had so many wants and questions?

But it’s not the same with “Supernatural.” Sure, I have my wishes when it comes to Team Free Will 2.0, but that’s not what’s bothering me. I know I will get over that because I always do. With fan-fiction, the stories never really end. There is always more.

It’s that I’m losing the constant I’ve had since the summer of 2015.

I always say that “Supernatural” came to me right before I needed it. Things were starting to get not-so-great around that point but it skyrocketed after I graduated and started college in 2016. I really struggled but I still looked forward to new episodes. I knew I had to go on another day because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t get to see what happened to Sam Winchester.

There’s nothing quite like worrying about a fictional character. It’s weird and definitely not something that can be easily explained to others. You can only really understand it if you’ve found a character that speaks to you on a thousand levels.

For me, that’s Sam. The boy who was supposed to be evil. The boy who had every reason to give up but didn’t. I didn’t pick it out then but this was the person I needed in my life. This is the person I still need in my life, which is why I’m so scared to lose him now.

But because I needed to know what happened to him, how he was doing and all that, I had to keep fighting. It still feels a little odd to say, but I’m not sure where I’d be if it wasn’t for him. He was what I held onto when I didn’t have anything else to grasp.

Along with holding onto that one hour each week, I also started attending “Supernatural” conventions. They cost way too much but they were another constant for me. They became just as important to me as Sam Winchester. I would tell myself that I had to get through today or I wouldn’t get to see Jared Padalecki (Sam Winchester — what a surprise) again.

If you’ve ever gone to a “Supernatural” convention, you know how friendly and kind Jared is. Time and time again, for absolutely no reason, he has gone out of his way to make me feel loved and appreciated.

When I went to the con in New Jersey just a couple of months ago, I decided to keep my face out of the frame. (I have a thing about showing my face in pictures. I actually wrote about it and published it here a while back.) Instead of just taking the photo, he repeatedly told me I was beautiful and that next time, we would look at the camera together. Later during autographs, I did end up apologizing for it. He took my hand and told me we’d known each other too long for me to ever say sorry.

Just knowing about Jared and his stories has helped me a lot too. He’s been very open about his battle with mental illness, which encouraged me to fight my own. His “Always Keep Fighting” campaign left a huge impact on me. In 2017, I ended up getting it tattooed on my upper arm.

The SPN Family, aka the show’s fandom, has also done so much for me. In real life, I don’t talk to a lot of people. I don’t get much support and I constantly feel lost. However, in our little sector on Twitter, I have found such a loving and wonderful home. We have our drama but we get through it…together. That’s something I’ve struggled to have inside my physical house. Through conventions, I’ve met a lot of them face-to-face. They are some of the kindest people out there and without “Supernatural,” our worlds never would’ve collided.

So yeah, for a lot of reasons, losing “Supernatural” isn’t like losing “Psych.” I wasn’t holding Shawn Spencer’s hand through every battle I had in my head but I’ve had a tight grip on Sam Winchester’s. I enjoyed tuning into “Psych” each week but unlike “Supernatural,” my life didn’t depend on it. And I didn’t talk to “Psych fans,” but I met some of my best friends through “Supernatural” (Brandi, Courtney, Kristen, Dean — I love you).

A part of my brain knows that once the show ends — once I let go of Sam’s hand — not everything will go away. People will watch reruns, write new and amazing stories and continue to talk about the Winchesters for years to come. The conventions will continue until at least 2021, if not longer. The show is a legacy that’s broken so many boundaries — it won’t just disappear as many shows do. There’s too much power behind it.

But I’m still terrified. When May 2020 comes around, there are going to be a lot of changes — ones I’m not sure if I’m ready to face. Until the finale ends and weeks go by, I won’t know what the aftermath will look like. All I can do is hope that some of it sticks and what I’ve gained will make me strong enough to go on without it.

If you’re currently struggling because your favorite show is ending (I know “Bojack Horseman,” “Lucifer,” “Arrow,” and many incredible shows are
releasing their final episodes soon on top of “Supernatural”), just know you aren’t alone. Know it’s normal to be questioning your feelings, as I have been doing since March.

While I’m still learning to accept it, do know that it’s OK to be upset. It’s OK to be sad. Regardless of what others believe, losing a show can feel a lot like losing a piece of yourself. You’re allowed to grieve that and any feelings that come with it are completely valid.

Originally published: December 4, 2019
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