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 BETTER MOMENTS

A journey through grief, self discovery & singleness

  • Writer's pictureChristine Angelique

The Cost of Being a Superhero


When I was a child, I always wanted to become a superhero. Most kids waited for their Hogwarts letter to come in the mail. I waited for Professor Charles Xavier to be sitting in my living room with my parents, telling them that I was a gifted youngster that should attend his school. Storm is my favorite X-men. I would put a white t-shirt on my head, jump off my bunk bed, and pretend to fly like she did. I'd daydream at school that I could control the weather, and everyone was falling for my secret identity. I wanted the cool uniforms, fun adventures, and the great power that came with being a hero. However, I always forgot about the "great responsibility" part. 


"With great power comes great responsibility." – Uncle Ben

When I think about a superhero, I first think about their superhuman abilities, and the fun camaraderie they have with their teammates. I never think about their sacrifice, their resistance, or the trauma surrounding their origin stories. What do Batman, Spider-Man, Storm, Blue Beetle, Ironman, and many more superheroes have in common? They all lost someone, multiple people, in their pursuit of becoming the hero they were meant to be. They all had canon events. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse coined the term “canon event”, which is defined as something that shapes a person and defines who they are. Something that was meant to happen in your storyline. A canon event could literally be anything, but I found it interesting that death and grieving is always a major canon event for superheroes. Why? 


I've thought about this a lot over the course of my grief journey, especially since Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse came out 2 months before my mom passed away. I used this movie as a tool to try and understand what had just taken place in my own life. Why did Uncle Ben have to die? Or Batman's parents? Couldn't all these heroes have been great without such tragedies? I don't know the answer to that question, but as I continue down my own grief journey and self-discovery, I'm starting to realize why this particular event produces heroes. 


Grief builds resilience. I'm 100% positive you can't be a superhero without being resilient. Superheroes have to withstand difficulties and obstacles throughout their mission. They have to find the strength to continue to fight, regardless of how many times they get knocked down, or how many battles they lose. They see the big picture, the endgame, and they keep fighting until the mission is complete. Take away the fantastical parts, and that's just life! Life is HARD. And there are so many, seemingly unnecessary, obstacles you have to face. Sometimes on a daily basis! In life, you get knocked down a lot. You didn't get accepted into your dream school. The person you love doesn't love you back. A promised job opportunity falls through. Your mother dies unexpectedly. 


One could argue, even just one of these things is enough to make you want to throw in the towel. But life throws all of them at you, and you have to learn how to bounce back because this temporary moment of pain is not the endgame. Grief has taught me a lot about resilience. Sometimes I need resilience just to get out of bed in the morning, or to recover from a particularly harrowing sobbing session. It has also taught me that I can't get stuck in life’s battles, when there's still a war to win. There might be moments when you feel like you're failing, or you can't possibly get up from that last blow, but you have to. There's still work to be done. The mission is not complete. The world still needs you, and who you are becoming. 


Grief grows your empathy. A traumatized, gifted being without empathy is a supervillain. Empathy is the heart of superheroes. Their ability to share and understand feelings of another is one of the reasons why they've made it their life's mission to protect people. Magneto and Professor Charles Xavier have so much in common, but what makes Magneto the “bad guy" is he no longer could empathize with humans. He wanted a human-eradicated world, so "superior" mutants could live in peace. Charles believed there was a world where mutants and humans could understand each other and coexist. To be a hero you have to care about others, and try to understand different perspectives. I believe, to be a well-rounded person and to achieve greatness, you also must have empathy. While losing a loved one is unfortunate, it does give you hands on experience with grief, which allows you to connect to a whole new perspective. I now have a better understanding of what it feels like to experience loss, to grieve, to be depressed, and to need emotional support. Before, I would give my sympathies to others going through such things, but now having experienced it myself, I can empathize and connect better with those experiencing grief and pain. Hence why I created this blog. I want to help others on their grief journey, and use my experience to ease any pain I can.  


Grief makes you brave. You can’t be a superhero without being brave. Bravery helps heroes swing from building to building, fly into the unknown, and sacrifice their own wellbeing to help someone else in need. But how can someone dealing with grief become brave? Honestly, maybe this is a dark thought, but when I need to channel some bravery, I think, “The worst has already happened, and I survived that. What do I have to lose?” At this point in my life, losing my mother is the worst thing that has happened to me, and as hard as it’s been, I’m learning to recover and heal. If I can survive this, why would I be afraid to sing at an open-mic night, or audition for a film, or talk to my crush, or skydive?! (I’ve never ever wanted to skydive, but now I’m like, “Meh, how scary can it really be?”) I think the best superhero example of this is Thor. Homeboy lost his mother, father, Loki, and all of Asgard! He had ever reason not to fight, but did. He had nothing else to lose, and chose to continue to pursue his destiny, which was to be the God of Thunder. 


Grief motivates you. Sure, after losing to Thanos, Thor sulked in his grief bubble, as you have every right to do, but when the world needed saving again, he showed up. If you’re still on this Earth, or in this universe, there’s a reason. The world still needs you. There’s still work to be done. After you take the time needed to grieve and cry it out, use the ones you’ve lost to motivate you. My mom may not be on this Earth with me anymore, but I will always strive to make her proud. I will keep going, and pursuing who I’m meant to be because that’s what she would’ve wanted me to do if she were still here. Spider-man made it his mission to make Uncle Ben proud, and to live up to the great power he was given.


So, why are most superhero’s canon events a loss, or a tragedy? Because unfortunately, that’s what makes you stronger. That’s what gives you resilience, empathy, bravery and motivation. Life is equally good and bad. Hero’s use the bad to propel them forward, so that they can become the good they once needed, and to hopefully make life better for the next person. I’ve always wanted to be a superhero, but grief has taught me what that actually means. There is a cost to greatness. There is a cost to become who you are meant to be. I didn’t ask for my origin story to include losing my mother, and I don’t know what other canon events will occur that I can’t control. But, I’m still here. The world still needs me. And I’m going to make my mother proud of the hero I become.

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2 Comments


williams.kaela
Apr 07

“Hero’s use the bad to propel them forward, so that they can become the good they once needed, and to hopefully make life better for the next person.” This is my mission! Become the good I once needed. Beautiful. Love Storm! Thank you for putting some respect on MCU Thor’s name too! Beautiful.

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Aruth Samuels
Aruth Samuels
Mar 29

Another beautiful writing ✍️ ❤️ so true grief does make you stronger!

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