MAD MEN Season 7 Finale
Sally & Her Brothers
Children Who Can’t Grieve

We’re all still talking about Mad Men Season 7 Finale. And, yes, I agree – the characters often hit close to home with many of life’s painful realities. Yet, I have to say that the tongue-in-cheek jingle at Mad Men’Season 7 Finale was a bit too disturbing. Leaving Sally (Kiernan Shipka) doing dishes in the kitchen with a dying mother. And no father walking through the door, that’s almost unbearably sad. We’re faced with the fact that one cry, a few encounter groups in an Esalen kind of therapy, just aren’t enough to change the effects of Don’s (Jon Hamm) traumatic childhood. His children are left to repeat his past. Neither he nor they can grieve.

Children Who Can’t Grieve

Here’s the heartbreaking truth: children who can’t grieve have an exceptionally hard road in life. Divorce is tough enough. But, losing a mother (and a father), and having their lives turned upside down – that will throw them very off track. That’s what we see again in Mad Men Season 7 Finale No Grieving. This was Don’s unfortunate early fate. Now, since he hasn’t worked out his own losses: it’s his children‘s. Gene will suddenly find his mother gone, without warning or goodbye. Bobby has figured it out – but no one’s talking to him. Sally has no choice but to fill in for all the adults who can’t cope with what’s happening, let alone with what vulnerable children need.

There’s no place for feelings. No place for crying, or mourning, or saying goodbye. There’s no guidance for what’s ahead. This is devastating to children. Children need their sadness and loss to be heard. They need strong and reliable adults to help them grieve. They need to know these feelings are not only OK but that sadness and anger are normal. Having a sensitive grown-up to turn to and cry with makes feelings of loss bearable. The loss will always be there. But, if it is grieved, children can move on. They don’t have to be on the run from their feelings as their father is – over and over and over again.

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Dr. Sandra E. Cohen

I’m Dr. Sandra Cohen, a psychologist and psychoanalyst in private practice in Beverly Hills, CA. I work with creatives in therapy, story/character development, and entertainment consulting. If you are a writer, actor, or director and want help with a character – or a chance to do some of your own personal work - call at 310.273.4827 or email me at to schedule a confidential discussion to explore working together.