Strange Neural Pathways: Moving On From Grief

Weird Neural Pathways.png

It’s very strange how our brains make connections between ideas or concepts that don’t really seem all that relatable.

Example: I used to watch Grey’s Anatomy with my biological father when I visited him on the weekends. It wasn’t the only show we watched, and honestly, not even the best. But we watched Grey’s Anatomy.

(If you don’t know what that is it’s a dramatic doctor show that follows a group of surgeons (but specifically one woman with the last name Grey) from internship to becoming full-fledged Attendings, using medical problems and situations as metaphors for life)

Then my father and I had a falling out, which lasted about a year before we tentatively started repairing our relationship. Then he killed himself.

Needless to say, there’s a lot that can be unpacked in that, but I want to talk about Grey’s Anatomy.

Because I didn’t keep watching the show after he died, despite the fact that I wanted to. I even had opportunities to, and the inclination to. I just found myself… not, without quite realizing why. There’s a lot of things I didn’t really touch after he died. And not intentionally, really; I just would realize, in a particular odd moments, that I hadn’t thought about or attempted to engage with something, something I’d cared about or was at least interested in before.

The weirdest part is that these things I stopped thinking about weren’t even things that made sense. They weren’t the things that were ‘most important’ in our relationship. Like, writing, stories, dragons, deep intellectual thought — all of those things are still deeply ingrained parts of my life. Maybe because those things were more me than him and me? I’m not sure.

But back to Grey’s Anatomy.

Because a few months ago I started watching again, from the very beginning. I can’t even remember why I started, I just know that I saw it on Netflix and saw a few ads and then suddenly I was sneaking an episode here and there when I was alone.

Then suddenly I was binge-watching episodes once a week while consuming a bottle of wine. It’s very funny, rewatching a show I’d enjoyed as a teenager, realizing what memories about the show stood out most vividly — versus how I’m interpreting it now. Why did that issue stand out most, as opposed to others? Why that scene, that emotion, versus another? (But that’s a whole ‘nother concept to be unpacked.)

I found myself absolutely bawling at parts that — while dramatic and emotional, whatever — probably didn’t really deserve that kind of reaction. I was invested in the ridiculousness. It was ridiculous and silly — and despite that, it felt… clean.

The point is, the idea that started this whole blog post, is that I just finished watching all of the episodes that I watched with my father. According to Netflix, we watched up through season 7 together.

Now I am starting season 8… all by myself. So far it’s just weird, watching the overblown emotional drama without a clue as to how it ends or where it’s going. Up until now it’s all been nostalgia, and now it’s…. not.

It’s stepping out into the unknown. It’s moving on, from my father, through a silly TV show that held a flavor of our relationship. It’s experiencing things that he’ll never be able to experience with me anymore. His time stopped, forever not moving beyond where we were.


… my time keeps moving. I’ll continue to live and laugh and love and it breaks my heart over and over again that he’s forever stuck in my past. But watching this ridiculous show… it’s somehow become a small piece in showing me how everything is okay.

Isn’t it funny how our brains associate different things together: overly dramatic show about pretend doctors and their unrealistic trials = daddy issues and suicide and moving on from death.

A’ight. Whatever you say, brain.


Has anyone else discovered this connection in your own life? What seemingly unrelated things have made important associations for you?

About R. K. Brainerd

I've been writing since my pre-teens, mostly in the realm of fantasy and sci-fi. Taking interesting concepts and dropping complex characters into fantastical worlds is my jam. I also raise dairy goats and herd cats, the evidence of which can be found on my Instagram. Welcome to the adventure. View all posts by R. K. Brainerd

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