‘Law & Order: Organized Crime’: How Can Elliot Heal After Kathy’s Death?

Elliot Stabler is back on Law & Order: Organized Crime. The unfortunate incident that led to his return was the death of his wife, Kathy. She was killed right in front of him after the rental car she and Elliot were using exploded.

Elliot (Chris Meloni) is having a tough time with Kathy’s death. Finding her killer is the only thing that will bring him peace and calm his anger. How can Elliot move on with his life and heal from losing Kathy?

Elliot Stabler should consider a support group

Christopher Meloni on the set of the 'Law and Order: Organized Crime' | Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images
Christopher Meloni on the set of the ‘Law and Order: Organized Crime’ | Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Elliot needs support right now. At one point in the show, Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) pulled him aside and said she thought he was exhibiting signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Elliot might be tempted to remain alone and handle his grief alone, but it’s important to reach out for help.

“I believe support groups are extremely helpful, so folks can see that they are not alone,” says Dr. Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist and author of The Self-Aware Parent. “Often, the bereaved in the group meet for coffee after group meetings and schedule social activities which can bring light and hope to many.”

Elliot must make peace with Kathy’s death

Elliot is troubled by the loss of Kathy. In one scene, we see him having a nightmare about her. His screams are loud enough to wake up his son, who is understandably concerned about his father. Teresa Beshwate, a coach for widows, says healing from the loss of a loved one requires making peace with what happened.

Elliot will continue to struggle unless he accepts what happened to Kathy. Although it doesn’t seem like he’s in denial about her death, it does seem like he has trouble accepting that her killer hasn’t been caught yet. He needs to get to a place where he can have peace even if killer is never put in jail.

“As a coach for widowed people, I can say that I have observed some key waypoints on the journey,” says Beshwate. “One such waypoint is making peace with the past. Another is understanding what’s happening in the present and learning how to navigate in a way that is right for that person, on their terms. Another waypoint is the ability to think about the future and consider how it could actually be an incredible future (and how that notion does not in any way dishonor their late spouse).”

Elliot needs to take time to grieve Kathy’s loss

Elliot has been so busy tracking Kathy’s killer that he hasn’t taken adequate time to grieve. He needs to pause and allow himself to fully go through the grieving process. Tina B. Tessina, PhD, (aka Dr. Romance) psychotherapist and author of Grief: What It Is, Why We Have It, And How to Get Through It, says Elliot’s grief might not subside even after the killer is caught if he doesn’t take time to grieve.

“He’s a heroic figure, which often means denying feelings and sublimating them into action,” says Tessina. “Instead of grieving, he becomes enraged, and uses that rage to fuel his search for the killer.  Even when he finds the killer, it won’t assuage his grief. He’ll still have to mourn his wife, and face his anger, guilt (for not being able to protect her), and grief. It will probably take a number of therapy sessions to do that.”

Tessina warns that if Elliot doesn’t get professional help, he could turn to substances to numb the pain. “If he could find a grief group for crime fighters, that would be excellent,” says Tessina. “If he doesn’t grieve, he’ll most likely develop an addiction to try and medicate the grief.”

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