Why Is Grief The Centrepiece Of This Season Of Married At First Sight?

As soon as I started watching the 2024 season of Married At First Sight, I was blown away by the optimism of Cassandra, who was trying to find love despite still healing from the death of her high school sweetheart years earlier.
"We were together for eight years. And then, one day, he was gone. Motorbike accident," Cassandra said in the first episode of the season. "I was blocked for almost three or four years after that. I was in a very dark space for a long time. I couldn't feel anything. But I know I am so ready. I am ready to receive love, to give love, to be in love. It has taken a long time, but I am there."
It's something most of us couldn't even imagine — made even worse by the revelation that she lost her mother to cancer in 2020. "Mum had this big light, this big light," she said in the episode. "I know that she is definitely with me today." But while Cassandra was the first person to share her story of grief on the show, she wasn't the last.
In episode two, we were introduced to Timothy, who despite being a little guarded, shared that he had lost his entire family, leaving him as the only surviving family member. His mother and brother both passed away when he was a young adult, and he lost his father just six weeks prior to his wedding — all of whom he commemorated in his wedding speech. "Unfortunately, Mum, who was my best friend, passed away 17 years ago along with my little brother," he said through tears. "And then I lost Dad about six weeks ago."
While I must admit that I was a little sceptical at first (was he sharing these stories because he truly wanted to or rather because it was deemed 'good television'), there is distinct power in seeing a fully-grown, 51-year-old man cry on national television over devastating loss in his life.
It's something that hits home for anyone who has had a family member or loved one die — and especially if they've had to re-enter the dating world after their loss. There are feelings only those who have lost someone can feel. The feeling like your partner doesn't understand a big part of you because they haven't met the piece of you that passed away. The oxymoronic feeling of battling grief every day while trying to make love flourish. The experience at every wedding, where you inevitably break down in tears (or get close to it) because it further reminds you of their absence, and even more so at your own wedding, I imagine.
While there's a large number of people who have gone through something similar to Cassandra and Timothy (I see you), these experiences and battles still aren't spoken about much, let alone on national television. We know what grief is — but the battles we go through when we try and find love after grief can be harder to understand.
Cassandra admits that it was hard to let someone in after the loss of her high school sweetheart and mother. "At the beginning, it was so scary," she told Refinery29 Australia. "I felt like a baby giraffe learning to walk again. Guarded, tense, slow, I didn't know what I should be doing. It was a delicate process."
Even now, she admits that she does tread carefully, but ultimately, the idea of finding love pushes her through. "Sometimes, I think I am still a little bit cautious, but the idea of falling in love again makes me happy, so it is easier now."
While I'm not sure any of us will automatically be healed by watching this season of Married At First Sight, I am sure that greater visibility of what grief can look like, how it manifests, and how people are building their lives around grief can, at the very least, be extremely comforting.
While reality television can't solve our problems by any means, it might just make us feel less alone. It might help us prepare for the inevitable day when we lose someone we love. It might just help you if you're sitting at home like me, still grieving the death of a parent, because sometimes all you need to know is that someone else is going through that too.
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