1 The Muppet Mindset: Sesame Street Saturdays: When Families Grieve

Apr 17, 2010

Sesame Street Saturdays: When Families Grieve

Ryan Dosier - Last night I plopped myself down on the couch with a bowl of chicken noodle soup and a runny nose and turned on my TiVo to watch Sesame Workshop's newest entry into the "Talk, Listen, Connect" series: "When Families Grieve." This newest installment is quite amazing and something Sesame Workshop and everyone involved with the special should be immensely proud of.

The special opens with Katie Couric meeting Elmo in what I can only assume is her house to... hang out? I'm not entirely sure why they're both there, but they get on the topic of Elmo's Uncle Jack, who we soon learn has passed away. Katie explains to Elmo that a lot of families deal with this same situation of losing a loved one and goes on to show us four of them.

Each of the families has a different back story. The first family lost a husband and a father in the war in Iraq, the second lost a husband and father in a similar way, the third lost a wife and mother to breast cancer, and the fourth lost a husband and father after he committed suicide. After that, we hear from each family about how it was to live with the loss of such an important family member.

Later, we meet Elmo's cousin Jessie (performed by Leslie Carrera-Rudolph), Uncle Jack's daughter. We see, in a series of flashbacks, how Elmo's father, Louie (performed by Bill Barretta) helps both Elmo and Jessie to cope with the loss, while also learning to deal with it himself. These are my favorite moments from the special because it all seems so real. Bill Barretta's Louie is absolutely fantastic and he gives such a moving performance that you truly start to feel for him and Jessie and Elmo.

The final segment with the families features them with Katie in a round-table type discussion about how they as parents dealt with the loss of a spouse. This is intended to give insight to other parents out there who might be in this same situation and the insight it gives is invaluable.

In the end, Elmo, Jessie, and the families all send off balloons to their lost loved ones with mementos that each one of them wrote attached and we the viewers are left with an overwhelming sense of hope, a smile, and maybe even a tear or two.

This special was actually my first exposure to the "Talk, Listen, Connect" series, but it certainly won't be my last. Sesame Workshop and everyone involved in this tremendous special should be extremely proud of the work they're doing to help families in need. In the special we get to see how other families have learned to cope and manage after such monumental loss and families that need to have learned some important tips on how they might cope and manage as well.

Sesame Street and Sesame Workshop certainly can't solve all of the problems of the world or help everyone, but little by little they prove that they can make a difference and they can indeed be there for families in need.

To view the special for yourself, please visit Sesame Workshop's Talk, Listen, Connect webpage.

Sesame Workshop also offers more information for grieving families about Finding Comfort Together.

For even more from Sesame Street and Sesame Workshop, be sure to watch the 28-minute, online-exclusive video starring Elmo, Jessie, Louie, and their family as they show how they have grieved and found comfort in each other.

And for more information on Sesame Workshop, be sure to visit SesameWorkshop.org.

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

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