Friday, September 17, 2010

What To Learn When The World No Longer Turns

Almost exactly a year ago I published a commentary titled, When The Light Goes Out: Tools For Coping With Grief/Loss, hoping it would help others process the loss of GUIDING LIGHT.  I never anticipated a year later I would be again making suggestions for the other CBS institution, AS THE WORLD TURNS.  Friday, September 17th, is a terribly sad day for millions of viewers around the world, not to mention the actors, crew, and all their families that cared about this production.  However, while we are grieving the loss of our beloved show and the characters we have loved, I implore you to keep in mind one thing:

Even when CBS's world stops turning, yours doesn't have to. 

The truth is, there are ways to experience a painful loss and continue to live meaningful lives.  I have had the privilege of interviewing dozens of actors from GUIDING LIGHT and AS THE WORLD TURNS in this past year and asking them how they cope with such loss.  Their responses are broken down into five basic suggestions: 

1. Helping others helps you feel better.  If you are feeling hopeless and discouraged by the decisions of others, do something.  You could write a letter, help those who are organizing reunion fan events, or you could even support one of the new webseries featuring soap alumni (THE BAY, GOTHAM, STEAMBOAT, and VENICE all feature beloved actors in lead roles and always could use support).

2. Keep the loss in perspective.  Yes, seeing Oakdale go off our TV screens hurts.  But in the year since GUIDING LIGHT went off the air we have witnessed many other losses.  The earthquake in Haiti, the BP oil spill, the ongoing recession, all have changed and impacted lives permanently.  If you are reading my writing then you at least have access to a computer and electricity, and that's more than many others right now.  Try to focus on the things you are grateful for versus the injustices you perceive.

3. New opportunities come from loss.  A year ago we did not have Tina Sloan's wonderful book, "Changing Shoes." Nor did we have the wonderful web series discussed above.  Robert Newman had not returned to New York theater, Colleen Zenk had not begun working on her one-woman show.  Losing work has forced these actors to explore new creative avenues of expression.  I, for one, am thoroughly enjoying seeing their new abilities and renewed energy channeled into these projects.

 4. Challenge the "Shoulds." This is not just from me! Many others have found that they can thrive in spite of loss by questioning every day "shoulds." Anytime you tell yourself, "My show should not have been canceled," you are setting yourself up to remain depressed, angry, and frustrated.  Remember, CBS is a business.  Your life is your own.  You may have had no say in AS THE WORLD TURNS being canceled, but you do get a say in how you react to it.  

5. Loss can bring together community. So many fans of GUIDING LIGHT have been able to meet their favorite stars, meet each other, and build support and community around this commonality.  The So-Long Springfield events all this past year have sponsored an environment of support, solidarity, and camaraderie.  With any luck, AS THE WORLD TURNS will soon do the same.

CBS's "World" stops turning this week, but yours doesn't have to! Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist specializing in Grief/Loss work and is now taking new clients in New York City at Mental Health Counseling & Marriage And Family Therapy Of New York. He is also the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve."


  1. When I was a kid, I watched all the CBS soaps. Over the years, I've gotten use to loss as each and every one of them got cancelled. But, I feel a special loss today. Nancy, Chris, Bob, Kim, Lisa, John Susan, etc. were like family to me. I'm going to miss them. But, they will live on in my memories.

  2. The day that we loyal ATWT fans thought would never come has arrived. Thank you We Love Soaps for giving this generationally loved program the recognition it so richly deserved over the past few months. We should be especially thankful that we were able to enjoy Oakdale, Illinois for 54 years, as this type of longevity will never come around again. We will miss you coming into our daily lives, thank you and good bye.

  3. Thanks so much for this wonderful, thoroughly entertaining show after all these years! :-)