Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Reflection on "Grey's Anatomy"

SPOILER ALERT: For those "Grey's Anatomy" fans, please read after you watch the season premiere.


Maybe it is the student in me.
Maybe it is the widow in me.
Or maybe it is blogger in me.
But I decided after Thursday night's "Grey's Anatomy" episode, I wanted to write a reflection on that particular episode and its subject matter - the stages of grief.
A semi-honest look at grief.

Of course, it took me back a year.
And a month, and a day, and an hour.
It made me think of all the things I went through.
And all the things I am still going through.

One of the main character's dies in a tragic accident.
One of the beloved characters.
The nice guy.
The sweet guy.
Like my guy.

First thing that hit me (other than the obvious) was the way his ex-wife could not breathe after she realized he was dead.
After she realized it was truly him.
After she realized it was really happening.
I hated the not breathing.
I hated that feeling.
Not being able to catch my breathe.
The feeling so incapacitating that I could not even stand up straight.
The feeling that if I could just bend over in fetal position, I could catch my breathe or maybe just to curl up and die myself.
If I could just curl up tight enough...
The same feeling even occurred last month when we buried Roger.

The next thing... the ability not to believe it is real.
It cannot be real.
It is still not real.
I constantly struggle with this.
I remembering seeing his body.
Watching his body die.
Watching his pink color leave his skin.
Watching his breathing stop.
And if I had not been there, I would struggle even more to know it was real.
It just cannot be that he died.
But I was there. I saw it. I felt it.

As I watched the character's laugh at the burial, I had to smile.
Grace and I laughed at lot in the first few days.
The night after his funeral, a bunch of my friends and family sat in my kitchen and laughed.
We told stories.
We laughed at Roger.
We made fun of Roger.
But I think we had to laugh.
We had to have a sense of humor.
Maybe it is part of the not believing.
Maybe it is part of the survival instinct.
But I needed that laughing.
I still need that laughing.
And my dark sense of humor.
Then last month, we laughed some more as we buried him.
We looked at the pictures of Roger from the 90s.
The bad clothes, the glasses, the hair, the crazy posed pictures, his cheesy smile.
But I loved his cheesy smile and his past.

I was not a fan of taking meds.
I am still not a fan of taking meds for anything.
I never really have been.
But a few weeks after Roger's death, I needed something.
I was not sleeping.
I was very very anxious.
And paranoid.
Something had to be done.
My primary physician prescribed me an anti-anxiety med.
And it helped.
It helped get me back on track.
I never had to do anti-depressants thankfully.
But some griefers do. And nothing is wrong with that.
We all need help at points in our life.
It helped me focus.
It helped me sleep.
It helped get me to a point where I could really take care of myself.
And that is the purpose.

Grief is not just tears.
Or sad faces.
It has many, many faces.
Sometimes it is anger at a stranger.
Sometimes it is anger at an employee at a theme park.
Or spending lots of money.
Or redecorating the house.
Or extreme exercising.
And as in the show, having lots of sex.
And grief does not go away.
It is part of me forever.

One of the characters during the episode said she just wanted to be happy again for just one minute.
In the first six months of my grieving, I just wanted to be happy.
Truly happy again.
And just for sixty seconds or so.
The first six months were so exhausting.
It was a struggle to move.
A struggle to enjoy myself.
And even when I did start to enjoy myself during those months, it was tinged with internal feelings of sadness.
But one day back in March, I felt good.
For a minute.
For an hour.
For a day.
For a week.
And then for a month.
And it was not so exhausting.
But there are still moments where my happiness is still jaded.
Still slightly tinged with blood.
Still slightly exhausting.

At my first grief counseling, I did not cry.
I could not cry.
It was strange.
My husband had been dead a month and I did not cry a lot.
Did I love him enough?
Was something wrong with me?
And no.
I was just in shock.
Reality had not set in yet.
I was distracted still.
I was not letting myself feel.
But at the next visit.
A short week later.
I sobbed.
And I sobbed each week until May (at counseling).
I still sob.
And cry.
And weep.
I am not sure if it will ever stop.
Part of me does not want it too. I want to keep feeling.
Keep remembering.
If only it could be a little less obvious.
And maybe only when I was alone.

Oh, the lovely survivor's guilt.
In the episode, George jumped in front of a bus to save a strange girl.
And the strange girl is suffering from a bad case of survivor's guilt.
In my life, Roger and I were in the same car.
The same fucking car.
My injuries were survivable.
Roger's were not.
I survived. Roger did not.
I hated this.
Why me?
Why not him?
For me to get over this, I had to tell myself several things.
First, Roger would have stepped in front of a bus for me.
Second, it was random. I did not choose to survive and/or outlive Roger.
It just happened.
Along with survivor's guilt, I also had a very lovely case of post traumatic stress disorder.
My paranoia while driving or being in a car was very severe.
I was very nervous.
Very anxious.
And it leaked over into other parts of my life.
Suddenly everything that could happen would happen.
My sense of order had been completely disturbed.
It has mostly returned to normal.
I am a bit more paranoid than I was eighteen months ago but I am a much better passenger these days and driver.
At least I hope so.

It is just not the death that hurts me.
It is the change in plans.
The change in goals.
The change in daily routine.
The loss of friends.
The complete overhaul of my life on the turn of a dime.
Or in my case on the overcorrection turn of one stupid driver with bald tires and wet roads and damp grass.

It hurts unbelievably.
It hurts so bad just to even breathe.
But I have to hold on to (and I have experienced this) that one day it will not hurt this much.
It will not hurt so bad.
So intensely.
But it will never go away.
It cannot be controlled and it is the acceptance of that fact that is one of the first steps of healing (in my humble opinion, at this moment).
I have to keep remembering that I will never be past it.
It will always be a little painful.
I will move forward but I will not forget.
I will not get over it but will be able to let it be.

So... even though I cried a lot during this episode.
And I could relate a lot.
It was a good episode.
The writers did a decent job at this one.
And I will be watching the rest of the season.


Suddenwidow said...

I loved your post! The episode really touched me too as being very realistic and after I watched the show I looked up all the quotes about grief that the characters said. I wanted to write about it but I couldn't come up with what I wanted to say. You did such an amazing job of reflecting on it. Thank you!

I just past the 6 month mark and I'm looking forward to moments of happiness, moments of respite from all this grief. You've given me hope this morning. Thanks!


Chillin' with Lemonade said...

So true. I asked all my friends to tell me what happened in Grey's and they said "you'll be ok, you can watch it". I could not make it past the first minute where Callie can't breathe without sobbing. Luckily my DVR messed up all but the first 5 minutes. Maybe one day I will watch the rest.

Heather said...

I found your blog through another. Your reflection is beautifully written.

I also thought they did an excellent job with showing the different reactions to grief and I hope they continue to show that grief has lingering effects.


Supa Dupa Fresh said...

What a great post -- this could be a basic introduction to grieving and dispel myths at the same time. You're brilliant.

I have never watched Grey's (haven't been able to watch hospital shows since 1994) but I guess I'm going to have to find this show on on-demand, huh? Sounds rather wise and true.

Thank you!