How ‘Sherlock’ helped get me through the heartache of my father’s death

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I’m a Sherlockian. I’m Sherlocked. You can call it what you want; in the end what I that I love the BBC series Sherlock.

My obsession started about two years ago, in July 2013. It was a few weeks after my dad unexpectedly passed away and I needed an escape from everything. Life was constantly overwhelming. There was so much to do and take care of, and it was all so incredibly hard. Every single moment of every single day it felt as if there was something vital missing. Every breath I took was a struggle, and every thought I had reminded me of my dad. I needed something to distract me, something to stop me from thinking about everything that was going on and that had to be done in real life.

I had been on Tumblr for a while then and I knew people were talking about Sherlock, particularly about a long break between seasons and a certain serious cliffhanger. I decided to give it a try.

I watched the first episode, and something weird happened: It made me feel something else besides my own heartache and pain. For those 90 minutes, I was okay. I was breathing and not crying.

I watched the six episodes there were in three days. And then I watched them again. And in the weeks that followed I watched all of them at least another four times.

Life and living was incredibly hard during those months. I cried over dropped spoons, broken glasses, curtains falling down, having to make phone calls, my boss telling me my work wasn’t good enough, my younger brother leaving me home alone, and a failed attempt at baking cupcakes. To be honest, nearly everything made me burst out in tears.

Then season three came in January and for a few weeks, since I recorded the episodes so I could watch them as much as I wanted and needed, I had another distraction. When my boss yelled at me I’d watch a Sherlock  in the evening to feel fine for 90 minutes. When I broke a bowl on the floor I’d watch an episode to feel okay for 90 minutes. And when my first birthday (in February) came by without my dad I ate three cupcakes and I watched an episode of Sherlock. For those 90 minutes I wasn’t thinking about how alone I was and felt and how much I missed my dad.

I watched and watched and watched, over and over again, because it stopped me from thinking and falling into a dark hole. Some days it was the only thing that brought me some semblance of joy and happiness, or just okay-ness. And after watching each episode at least ten times I would watch interviews with the actors, actresses, cast and writers of the show. There was one moment in an interview that even now, after a year later, I can still remember very clearly.

In one interview, Amanda Abbington, who plays the brilliant Mary, said to a fan in answer to a question, “You deserve to be there. You have a right to be there.”

I will always remember those words, because those words made it through the black cloud that surrounded me. They were the right words I needed to hear at that moment. It made me realize that I deserved to be here and that I was enough and it reminded me of something that I had forgotten in my grief and sadness—that there was light at the end of a very, very dark tunnel.

So I’m a Sherlockian because this show and these actors, actresses, writers and the rest of the cast saved my life, in a way. They reached through the gloom when I thought that there was no point in living. They might not know it, but they saved me and I wish I could let all of them know that it’s because of them that I am where I am today.Marleen Raaijmakers is 25 and was born and raised in the Netherlands, but these days she’s living in London, working as an au pair, which basically means she gets to spend her day building Lego monsters, pulling weird faces, and occasionally even playing the tooth fairy. In the weekends she wanders around London and usually end up in bookshops where she spends too much money on books. Follow her on Twitter.

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