How ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ does a fantastic job of showing the sentiment of grief.

I just finished watching Grey’s Anatomy Season 15 Episode 12 – Girlfriend in Coma and it triggered all sorts of emotions, (which it usually does) and inspired me to write this blog post. This time, good ole Shonda Rhimes had my emotions flowing by doing a fantastic job at showing how you feel watching your loved one fighting for their life and the sentiment of grief. I know both feelings quite well.

Trying to describe grief.

My Mom passed away from metastatic breast cancer a little over a year ago, and that was the worst experience of my life. Trying to describe the pain I felt watching my Mom in her final days, taking deep long breathes, not knowing which breath would be her last, is difficult to put into words. It’s hard to express the wave of emotions and the changes your body goes through while you’re grieving, especially to someone that hasn’t experienced it. But, when you finally hear someone else articulate what you can’t, all you can do is shake your head up and down, and scream, YES! Someone finally gets it! That’s what happened to me while watching this episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Let me break it down for you.

The struggle is real.

Image from Grey's Anatomy Season 15 Episode 12 - Girlfriend in Coma on ABC. Dr. Catherine Fox and Dr. Richard Webber.
Image from Grey’s Anatomy Season 15 Episode 12 – Girlfriend in Coma on ABC.

First, there’s the storyline of Richard, as he’s attempting to help Catherine as she recovers from surgery. Catherine is having a hard time adjusting to the recovery process and not being able to do the things she once could. She doesn’t want to appear “average” in her rehabilitation, so she refuses Richards help to prove her strength and independence. This situation reminded me of my time as my Mom’s caregiver. In the beginning stages of chemotherapy, she refused help, even immediately after her lumpectomy surgery. My Mom wanted to prove how self-sufficient she was and was determined to do everything on her own until she couldn’t. After many days of being weak and unable to get out of bed, she finally accepted the fact that she couldn’t do everything on her own and didn’t have too. Then, she welcomed my support and assistance in her healing journey.

The same thing happened with Richard, as he watched Katherine struggling throughout her recovery. He would offer his assistance with something like going up the stairs only to have Catherine say no, she could do it on her own. That was until she fell on the treadmill, had a breakdown about not being about to do it, then realized she needed and wanted his support. Richard, just like myself, expressed that we can’t imagine what they are going through. All we can do is be there for them to provide love and support throughout their journey.

Escaping it all.

Image from Grey's Anatomy Season 15 Episode 12 - Girlfriend in Coma on ABC.
Image from Grey’s Anatomy Season 15 Episode 12 – Girlfriend in Coma on ABC.

Then, we have Maggie, as she tries to comfort Jackson because he’s hurting watching his Mother struggle with her physical therapy. He feels helpless in the situation and doesn’t know what to do. Most of us feel helpless as we watch someone we love in recovery or fight for their lives because there really isn’t anything we can do for them, except be there for them.

While trying to be there for Jackson, Maggie finally opens up about the emotions she felt after the passing of her Mother. Maggie describes some of the exact feelings I felt as I grieved my Mom. She admitted that she had a moment while watching her mother on her worse day, where she just “wanted out. Out of this life”. She described it as a “fleeting thought, but it came”. I knew what she meant. The pain you feel while watching your loved one suffer is unbearable, and you want it to stop. The agony you’re in after they are gone, and you know they will never be with you in their physical body again is unsurpassed. I too have had one of those fleeting thoughts of wanting to be out of this life. Never wanting to harm myself or anything, but just wanted to be out of the pain I was feeling. Out of sadness and out of anger. I just wanted to be out and not feeling anything.

Jackson asks Maggie what did she do? Maggie describes, shaking uncontrollably and mentions that she developed an eye twitch. Jackson admitted that he currently has an eye twitch as well as shortness of breath. Maggie agrees and says the shortness of breath happens to her all day, every day. Here we go again! I had an eye twitch that seemed to last forever but eventually went away. I also had a shortness of breath while grieving. Sometimes I would feel my heart racing, pounding so fast that it felt like my heart was going to jump right out of my chest. At night, while trying to fall asleep, all I could hear is my heart pounding. I would have to take a slow, deep breath to calm myself down. I eventually went to the doctor and found out that my blood pressure was high. Which, I’m sure had something to do with all my stress and grief.

Feeling like you can’t go on.

Image from Grey's Anatomy Season 15 Episode 12 - Girlfriend in Coma on ABC.
Image from Grey’s Anatomy Season 15 Episode 12 – Girlfriend in Coma on ABC.

The feelings that Maggie expressed to Jackson about wanting to be out is probably what the man with the ‘girlfriend in the coma’ felt after his girlfriend had another setback in her recovery and her organs started to shut down. This story really had me balling my eyes out because it took me back to when my Mom was officially put on hospice. Meaning, there wasn’t anything else they could do for her, it was just a waiting game. My girl Meredith, the Queen of dealing with grief. As she has grieved her sister, husband, mother, and recently her father, was the perfect person to help the man pull it together to be there for his dying fiance. He asks, why is this happening to us”? Meredith responds “I don’t have an answer.” I had that same question after my Mom was first diagnosed with breast cancer, beat it, but it came back again almost 5 years later. I questioned it again when she passed away from breast cancer several years later. Most people have this question, but for most of us, there is no actual answer as to why this is happening. It’s just part of life I guess.

He was also upset because she would start to show signs of improvement and then BAM, she was worse again. The same thing happened to my Mom. We would go to an oncology appointment one month, her cancer cells would be going down, and then the next month she would be back on chemo because they went up. So many ups and downs. After telling him that all her organs are failing, he breaks down crying. He keeps saying over and over, “if she dies, I die”. Meredith tells him, “you won’t die. I know it feels like that right now. But trust me, you won’t die. You have to fight for her, she’s in there fighting for you. You don’t get to give up. You are going to go fight to keep yourself alive”. I know that’s right, Meredith! My Mom battled breast cancer for 12 years after her initial diagnosis. I’ve seen all the ups, downs and in-betweens but one thing for sure, she never gave up. I keep that in mind on the days when I feel like I can’t go on. I can go on and I will.

You will go on.

For me personally, this was a great episode of Grey’s Anatomy. They did a great job of displaying the same feelings of sadness, loneliness, depression, helplessness, and overall grief that I’ve experienced. If you’re going through this grief rollercoaster too, you’re not alone. Take it moment by moment. You have to carry on so you can help others carry on. I feel like that’s my purpose after dealing with all of this grief.

Are you dealing with grief and how are you coping with it? Are any shows that you can relate to? Tell me in the comments below.

Lots of love, blessings, and healing to you.

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