Last Thursday night, I am hunkered down on the couch watching my favorite show, the ABC television medical drama series, Grey’s Anatomy. I find myself thumbing through tweets during the commercials. One of them strikes me that said, “This is the ODDEST Greys I’ve ever seen. WHAT? All over the place. WEIRD…”
The voice in my head booms back in an annoyed tone saying, “YEP, you are right, it is all over the place and weird. That’s what GRIEF is – obviously you don’t get it!” Even though this may be an unfair judgment of my Twitter friend, I can’t help but think, “Have you ever loved someone who has died suddenly and traumatically? What is your experience watching a friend or loved one grieve?”
I am the first to criticize media’s portrayal of death and those grieving afterwards. You can read my post here related to the popular television series, Downton Abbey, and what I consider their inaccurate representation of what the character Lady Mary Crawley went through after the death of her husband, Matthew.
But I feel Grey’s Anatomy captured some of the normal emotions and reactions to loss among all those affected by the sudden death of one of its main characters, Dr. Derek Shepherd, also known as “McDreamy” and the husband of the show’s leading character, Dr. Meredith Grey. Watch it here and see what you think.
These are the things I think they got right: First, the things that mirrored my experience as a young widow:
- The walking zombie-like state that Meredith is in when she announces the news to her co-workers and friends.
- The feeling of not really being present even though you are in a crowded room (funeral guests in her home).
- The replaying of life events and memories in your mind as you process your new reality (the scenes from all the years of their love story).
- The way in which her instincts as a professional doctor took over in the midst of crisis, even when the wife wanted to scream and shout.
- Time not being the same as it was before and the want to slow the world down.
- The need to run from the pain because it is too much to take in all at once.
- Meredith sees Derek in her dreams and hears him speak, which brings her comfort.
Their portrayal of what happens to those around the widow, as a result of the loss felt by other family members, friends and co-workers is true to life:
- Meredith’s friends’ struggle not knowing what to do to help her.
- Conversations are sparked in other people’s lives because of Meredith’s situation (Dr. Bailey’s discussion with her husband about life-sustaining measures and their discussion about what they want if they are in an accident).
- Bursts of anger come out at inappropriate times, as a result of pent-up frustration and raw emotions.
- Dr. Amelia Shepherd’s denial of her feelings about her brother’s death which culminates in her obtaining drugs and contemplating relapse.
- The recognition that everyone is grieving in their own way and that they can support each other in their recovery.
- Dr. Webber’s proposal to the woman he loves because he is reminded after Derek’s death, that life is too short to postpone the things you want to do.
Thank you to the Grey’s Anatomy writers who got it right, and who brought up the taboo subject of death, loss and bereavement. Maybe by watching this episode, it will educate those who “don’t get it” until it is their turn to experience loss and the grief that comes with it.
DON’T BE SHY – LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK?