I recently re-watched an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, and this one struck a chord for several reasons. First, coincidentally, the air date for the episode was was just one month before the passing of my husband. Second, this episode hit home in an different way the second time around, from the perspective of a widow.
In this episode, Christina Yang, a 5-yr resident, had unknowingly performs surgery on her mentor’s husband. Complications arise during the procedure and the patient dies, at which point Christina learns the identity of the patient, a this lands as a crushing blow. In this episode, her mentor, Teddy Altman, rather than mentoring Christina in the operating room. calls upon Christina to recite the details of her husband’s surgery over and over in great detail. I am certain that the first time I watched this, my thoughts were on Christina and have this must be pure torture for her, and that Teddy was trying to punish her for making some critical mistake. In watching this now, having experienced the loss of my husband, I have a different view.
This, to me, is less about torturing Christina, although there is not denying that IS happening. I think it is more about Teddy, and her widow brain. How many people that have lost someone close, like a spouse, repeat the significant events leading up to the death over and over in their brain? Trying to figure out what could have been done differently, or evaluating the “what ifs.” Basically torturing themselves. Everyone knows that hindsight is 20/20, and to look back on replay is not a fair comparison to what could have been done. I can tell you, I have replayed my husbands passing and the events preceding, over and over again. But if I set aside the microscope and look at the events as if I were there again, knowing only what I knew at the time, I would have reacted in exactly the same way.
There is no point in focusing on the “what ifs,” none of that will change the situation you are in, and none of it brings your loved one back. You need to focus on the here and now, remain in the present, and what you can do right now. Stop torturing yourself.
Toward the end of the episode, Teddy came to realization that her husband was dead, that Christina did all she could, and in fact Teddy admits that even she herself would have performed the surgery and reacted in the exact same way had she been the doctor on the case. There was an “aha moment” that occurred and helped her to move forward.
In my case the “aha moment” was a little more subtle, but it came in a slow wave of understanding that what transpired didn’t change anything, the only thing that could change my circumstance was me. Me accepting that my present and my future where in my hands. I could not ever go back, I had to accept that fate, but I could choose how to move forward.
*S8Ep11 – This Magic Moment