Grieving a Stranger

Last week’s season 10 premiere of Grey’s Anatomy centered on saving Dr. Weber and Heather’s lives after they were both severely electrocuted.  Dr. Weber is the former chief of surgery at Seattle Grace Hospital, and Heather is a surgical resident there.  Although the doctors were able to save Dr. Weber, they weren’t so lucky with Heather.  This clip shows her fellow interns grieving her death, but the interesting thing is that they don’t seem to be grieving.  They openly discuss how they didn’t know her very well or even like her very much, but they still grieve for her death.  As they’re reminiscing on their time with her, the interns are trying to think of what to tell her mother when she comes to the hospital.

Stephanie and Jo grieve by trying to think of stories about when they liked Heather or when Heather did  something for them so that they can tell her mom that she was loved or cared for while being an intern with them.  Leah on the other hand grieves by telling the other interns about all the things she didn’t like about Heather, like how Heather made her white sweater pink and caused her to be late to work.  But even though Leah didn’t like Heather, she admits that she didn’t want Heather to die.  They eventually decide to drink alcohol as the solution since they don’t necessarily know what to do.  When they see Heather’s mom, they tell her made up stories about Heather just to console her.

The person who grieves the most differently is Shane.  He isn’t depicted much in the clip, but he grieves in a different way because he feels responsible for Heather’s death.  He was the one who was supposed to go find Dr. Weber in the basement of the hospital, but he lied to Heather and told her that an attending had asked her to go instead.  When Heather reached the basement and found Dr. Weber unconscious on the floor from electrocution, she accidentally stepped in the electrocuted water as well and fell victim to it too.  In this episode, Shane doesn’t tell anyone what he had done, but it will be interesting to see if grieving and guilt will combine to cause him to admit to sending Heather down to the basement.  Even when Heather’s mom comes, Shane is silent.  Heather’s mom assumes that this silence and sadness from Shane is because they were good friends, but Shane doesn’t refute this assumption.

But this raises the question of how to grieve someone you interacted with daily but never really knew or cared to like.  Do you even grieve at all? Is there a right way to grieve? How common is it for people to grieve a coworker’s death if he or she wasn’t close with the coworker? Is it different to grief the death of a person when it’s unexpected rather than if you knew they were dying of an illness or fatal condition?

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