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I have to believe there's a way. There has to be a way to step off the carousel. Start again. Start fresh. There has to be a way to leave all my ghosts behind. It's a choice. It's a choice I'm making. To move forward. To move past this. I can do that. I can do that. All I have to do is begin.

She's Leaving Home is the twenty-second episode of the eleventh season and the 242nd and 243rd overall episode of Grey's Anatomy.

Short Summary[]

We see how Meredith and the doctors cope after they learn the news of Derek's death. Meanwhile, April makes a shocking decision that Jackson cannot understand, and Bailey and Ben argue over their future.

Full Summary[]

Meredith steps into Derek's room at the Dillard Medical Center with the papers. She tells the nurse her kids are with a social worker. The nurse assures her they got the kids. Meredith hands over the papers to the nurse, who closes the blinds. They're going to begin now. Meredith sits down as the nurse starts shutting down the machines that are keeping Derek alive. Before she can remove the breathing tube, Meredith tells her to stop. Her eyes tear up as she says his name.

Ellis says she'll never love another man like that. She's certain of that. The point is that he's gone and she's here. There are some flashbacks to the carousel and a young Meredith asking her mother if she's okay.

Callie, Richard, Owen, Maggie, and Alex are in a lounge talking about surgeries as Meredith walks in. Nobody sees her as they're too busy getting coffee. Maggie then sees her and she guesses that Derek's flight just got delayed. Richard asks Maggie to check on a patient of his as Meredith quietly says that Derek is dead. Callie says she needs Maggie, too. Meredith repeats that Derek is dead, but this time a little louder. They all hear she said something, but they didn't hear what she said. She again says that Derek is dead.

We hear Ellis saying that she doesn't know what she should do.

The doctors are shocked, but Meredith has flashbacks of the carousel and Derek. She doesn't hear them trying to get through to her to get more information.

Ellis says it's just so hard to accept that he's gone and how she won't ever love a man like that again. There's no getting him back.

Meredith falls to the floor.

Meredith is lying on a hospital bed. Bailey wants to enter the room, but Richard won't allow her to go in before she stops crying. She does her best to pull herself together as Owen walks out of the room. Meredith's fine, just dehydrated. He asks how Amelia is handling things, but she doesn't know yet. Richard says Amelia is still operating, and there are protocols for situations like this. Owen knows those protocols well.

In the OR, Stephanie and Amelia's patient has a fractured cervical spine and fractured legs. He's a cop and fell down a building in construction during a chase. Callie comes in and apologizes for being late. Amelia informs her what they already did and tells her to look at his legs. Callie is a little distracted. As Amelia tries to get a name from the patient, Callie recognizes him as Dan Pruitt. His pressure drops. Amelia asks for dopamine and a page for general surgery.

After the surgery, Callie, Stephanie, and Amelia are scrubbing out. Owen comes in and asks to have the room to himself and Amelia. Callie takes Stephanie back into the OR. Amelia wonders what's going on. She immediately reads from his face that someone died. She knows the face, she's been here before. It's always the same face. She asks who's dead. He says Derek. He says he's sorry and starts telling what happened, but she doesn't need the details. Dead is dead. He says he's sorry and tries to comfort her, but she backs away. She claims she's fine, as she knows the drill. It's not a big deal. As Amelia continues to scrub out, Callie comforts Stephanie, who's crying because of the horrible news.

At a cemetery, a priest is reading a eulogy for Derek. Cristina is there to support Meredith, holding hands. Zola looks up to her mother.

During the wake at her house, Meredith sits in the sofa and has more flashbacks of the carousel as she stares at Derek's in memoriam card. Being comforted by someone reminds Meredith of being comforted as a kid in the hospital when her mother slit her wrists.

Bailey and Ben are getting ready for the night. Ben says it was a nice service. He liked her poem. Bailey says that if anything like that ever happens to her, she doesn't want to be hooked up to machines. She wants her organs to be donated and to be let go. Ben on the other hand wants all the extraordinary measures to be taken in hopes of him waking up later. She can't believe that.

Upon entering her bedroom, Meredith is confronted with some of Derek's stuff lying around and the post-it. She remembers the post-it wedding, their last conversation, Derek drawing Isaac's tumor, and their fights about D.C. She leaves the room and goes to the living room to remember happier moments with Zola, Derek and little Bailey. She then remembers standing there when the police car arrived to inform her about Derek. She remembers Derek's last moments and associates it with her mother slitting her wrists and the time she nearly drowned. Inspired by what her mother did, she makes a decision.

Carrying Bailey, Meredith walks into Zola's room and wakes her up, like her mother did the day they left Seattle. She makes Zola put on some clothes as they pack some stuff. Unlike her mother in the past, Zola does not forget her doll. At the front door, Zola asks where they're going. Meredith just replies they're going away. As a young Meredith once did, Zola turns around to look through the glass in the front door. Meredith asks her to come with and they walk off.

The attendings have gathered in Meredith's living room. Meredith has disappeared and not even Cristina has heard from her since the funeral weeks ago. They find a note from Meredith saying that "She and the kids are fine". Bailey doesn't understand how Meredith could just drop everything. Richard privately asks Amelia if she wants to go to a meeting after this, but Amelia says she's fine. Richard comments about how she has been living at the hospital lately but she insists she's fine. Callie suggests they hire a detective to check if Meredith is really fine, or call the police. Richard says Meredith is not missing and she's not jeopardizing her kids or being irresponsible. If she's gone, it's because she wants to be gone. She knows what to do, like her mother. Ellis left Seattle and never looked back. Callie doesn't want to just let Meredith go. Alex tries calling Meredith again, but she doesn't pick up the phone.


As an Easter bunny is handing out chocolate eggs on the Pediatric ward, Owen tells April it's an exciting opportunity as time doesn't exist there. Richard will take over from him as Chief of Surgery for the couple of months that he'll be gone. The work is raw and urgent and it makes you feel so useful and good at the end of every day. He's ready for that after everything that's happened. April understands wanting to feel useful and good. The bunny comes over and the person wearing the costume takes the head off to reveal it is Stephanie. She swears she's not doing this again next year.

Jackson and Jo are standing outside the burn unit. Their patient has 60% surface area burns. She was pulled from a home fire this morning. He says Jo's gonna have to prepare herself, because cases like this are tough. They walk in and greet Anne. She says she feels cold, which she finds odd. Jackson explains it's because her skin got damaged so badly that it can't retain heat anymore. Jo explains they're going to debride the wounds layer by layer until they reach healthy tissue, allowing new skin to grow. A voice from the room next door shouts that it hurts like hell. JJ, the patient next door, gives Anne some more tips to fight the pain. Anne asks if her husband is outside. Jo says he isn't, but she leaves to track him down. Jackson starts debriding, making Anne scream in pain. JJ shouts that that's why she should have gotten something to bite down on.

As Callie tends to him in his room, Dan says he heard the whole story from a resident. He knows that she found him too boring for a second date. He refuses to tell her which resident. He messes with her a little. Callie informs him there still are more surgeries to come. He asks about his leg. She can't make him any promises. She's not confident they'll be able to save it. He sees a silver lining though. This means she'll have more time to fall in love with him. He was joking, but he loves her reaction.

April is watching the newborns through the nursery window. She gets emotional.

April and Jackson are at the airport. She reminds him that this is different than Meredith because her husband isn't dead and she's not running away. It's an incredible opportunity for her to learn new techniques and it's only three months. She wants him to be happy for her but he doesn't like how dangerous it is. She says she won't be fighting, just doing surgery and teaching. The fact that she'll be operating in a war zone has her excited and happy. Owen, wearing his army uniform, is waiting for her. She tells Jackson she needs this, but she can't leave like this. She asks him to kiss her goodbye. He does, and gives her a farewell embrace. She takes her bag and joins Owen to board their plane.

Memorial Day

Bailey and Ben are on their bed. She's tending to the hornet stings on his back. He accidentally poked a hornet's nest as they spent the day at the lake. He's in pain. She reminds him that extraordinary measures he wants to keep him alive are way worse. All that pain because he can't get it together and let Jesus take the wheel. Ben refuses to let Jesus drive if Jesus let him end up in the hospital in the first place. He's gonna let science drive. He walks out of the room. Bailey tells God that she wants it noted that she didn't stab Ben in the neck with the tweezers.

In the cafeteria, Alex, Maggie, and Arizona are getting lunch. They still haven't heard from Meredith. They overhear a doctor complaining that she had to wait two hours for a neuro consult. She wants the board to get off their asses and hire a new neurosurgeon already. Arizona is angry, but Maggie tells her it's not worth making a scene over. However, when the doctor calls it bad management, Arizona can't stand it anymore. She doesn't think the loss of Derek is about her needs or schedule. She yells to take a minute to think about the life, the talent that they lost before she starts complaining about how Derek's death has been inconvenient for her. Everyone in the cafeteria starts whispering about what just happened as Arizona realizes the made a scene.

In surgery, Amelia is removing some bone spurs. She doesn't think a foraminotomy is needed. Callie says Dan's leg is probably going to need to be amputated and they were hoping to give him a bionic prosthesis, so chronic pain or being in a C-collar for too long will delay rehab. Amelia realizes this is not the technique Derek would have used, but her technique offers more support, so she's gonna do it her way. She doesn't think her dear dead brother will mind.

Anne's husband is holding his wife's hand as Jo is debriding more. Jo knows it hurts, but that means she's healing. JJ finishs her sentence from the other room, having been told the exact same thing. Also, it's not helping that they sent in a pretty doctor. She calls Jo: Snow White. Anne screams in pain. JJ says that they're two of the seven dwarfs then to distract Anne. She'll be "Burny" and Anne can be "Screamy". The guy down the hall who lost his leg can be "Stumpy" and the woman in the trauma room who couldn't stop complaining about the bad service can be "Bitchy". Everyone but Anne's husband laughs. JJ tries to cheer Anne up some more, but Anne's husband yells to shut-up. Jo says they're gonna take a little break. Lance immediately leaves the room. Anne says he's scared. Then he can be "Scaredy", JJ says.

July 4th

Maggie and Alex are sitting on the swing set outside his house. Maggie says they should try to find Meredith. She wonders how hard that can be. Alex says it's freaking hard. He called everyone he knows. He also tried to call hospitals in Boston, thinking that Meredith maybe followed in Ellis's footsteps by working at a new hospital, but to no success. The first fireworks appear in the sky, Maggie says this is not why she came to Seattle. She came here to find out about her birth mother and she found Meredith. She never felt abandoned by her birth mother as her parents wouldn't let her. She knows they were meant to be a family. If she were to feel abandoned by her birth mother, she would have felt like how she does now feeling abandoned by Meredith. Alex leaves Meredith a voice mail message, saying it's not fair to any of them. He asks her to just let them know she's okay. They continue to watch the fireworks.

Jackson's outside the hospital, FaceTiming April. He couldn't call her earlier today due to his work, and now she only has a couple of minutes. He confesses that he had to bought a new couch because he stained the old one. She says she's not coming home next week. She can't return home yet, because there's so much more to learn. The connection is terrible so he can't hear her entire explanation. She feels like she can't go home yet. He partially understands, but she can't talk about it now. She asks if they can talk again in a couple of hours, but he'll be asleep then. As he asks when she'll be home then, the connection fails.

Catherine and Richard are enjoying dinner at a restaurant. He says she keeps him on his toes. She makes him happy. He stands up and starts looking for something in his pocket. She stops him. He shouldn't be asking the question without knowing her answer. She thinks they're old enough not to get all caught up in a grand romantic gesture. They know what marriage really is, a contract, and no one should enter a contract without practical and careful consideration. He sarcastically says that's romantic. She replies it shouldn't be. He says it should. He says he pulled back on the romance tonight. If he could, he'd have filled the room with roses and invited all their friends. He would've hired musicians to start playing the minute she'd say yes, because a proposal should be romantic. That's how it should be, and not a hollow gesture. It's him telling her how much he loves her but clearly they disagree. Richard then says, I suppose you want to split the check.


Ben and Bailey are watching a scary movie. During the ads, Ben brings up that people wake up from comas after extraordinary measures are taken, but Bailey says they statistically don't. He believes in miracles, about which she mocks him. The movie comes back on and they agree a certain character's going to die.

Amelia and Stephanie watch a scan of patient's spinal abscess. It's sloppy, but since Nelson was the primary surgeon, Amelia figured it'd be. Amelia says Derek would roll over in his grave if he saw this. She wonders if you can actually roll over in a grave. She thinks there's only room to shake or shimmy, maybe. Stephanie asks her to stop. The jokes and comments about Amelia's dead brother make her uncomfortable. Amelia says it's just the truth. Derek's her brother and he's died. Stephanie brings up grief groups and she suggest they go there together, but Amelia says she's fine. She just has a morbid sense of humor. She thanks Stephanie for being thoughtful, though. She leaves the room to go put the spinal abscess to rest, like her brother. Hah!

Jackson is debriding Anne's arm. She's gotten more used to the pain and asks him to tell her some more about how she's going to fix him. He explains they're going to remove skin from her hips and graft it onto her cheek scars. Anne's happy to hear that they're chopping off her love handles, so she'll end up with a smaller waist. JJ says they can take what they want from her ass. JJ and Anne laugh. They'll start with the grafts once the infection in Anne's nose has been taken care of. 

JJ silently asks Jo where Anne's husband, whom she sarcastically calls the husband of the year, is. Jo says he was here this morning with bagels. JJ says Anne needs a hand to hold instead.

Anne understands it's still going to be a while until they start with the grafts. Jackson gets a call from April, but he declines the call and continues working on Anne's arm.


Jo is watching the turkey she's roasting in the oven. She sees Maggie's eating what was supposed to be dessert, but Maggie says the turkey's still three hours away. Maggie asks Jo if her mother never taught her how to roast a turkey. Jo says no, because she didn't have a mother, nor an oven in her car. Point taken, although it doesn't help with the fact that she's starving. Alex comes in with burgers, which they happily accept.

Alex walks into the living room and sits down to FaceTime Meredith. She picks up this time. She tells him she and the kids are fine. She asks him to stop calling.

Christmas Eve

While Callie's tending to Dan's residual limb, he tells her one of his amputation jokes. She's not impressed. He asks about her holiday plans. Callie says she has her daughter on Christmas Eve this year while her ex has her on Christmas Day. Dan takes Callie's hand. He thinks he was meant to meet her. Callie interrupts and says a doctor's care can start to feel like affection after a long period of time. Dan says he only meant as his doctor, but he asks her to keep going cause it's great. He recognizes the first date sucked, but it got him to her and he thinks he needed her for this. He thinks he couldn't have survived it without her. He thanks her and wishes her a happy Christmas. She wishes him the same.

Ben comments on all the presents Bailey bought for Tuck. Bailey tells him not to mock divorced mother guilt. Bailey asks what would happen if she met Idris Elba all the while he'd be hooked up to machines to keep him 'alive' while he's brain-dead. Since he'd technically be alive, she'd technically be not single for years. She's one of those people who think that sex and an emotional affair are, in fact, forms of cheating. She'd be locked up like a nun, withering and wasting away. He's taking away her chance of dating Idris Elba if she'd ever run into him.

Arizona ate too much pizza. Maggie comes in with a second batch of her eggnog, which Alex loves. Jackson says Alex's christmas tree is the saddest he's ever seen. It's only partially decorated, which is all Arizona's doing. Arizona says it's still better than no tree. Arizona definitely wanted a tree and she started decorating, but she gave up when a woman went into labor. Maggie sees there's a present from Sofia for Zola. Sofia keeps asking when Zola will be back and she wanted to get a present. Arizona didn't know what to say, since she doesn't know when they'll be back. Jackson coments he knows the feeling. Arizona caved and bought a present. Richard comes in and they all wish each other a happy christmas. Maggie silently tells Alex she invited Richard because he seemed sad and lonely. Jackson receives a call from April.

He sits down on the stairs and takes the call. Jackson says the thing at Alex's house is fine, but he misses her. She apologizes and claims she tried to be home. He doubts that, since she extended the tour three times already. He reminds her it's Christmas. She asks if he thinks she doesn't want to be there. He says she could've been here, since she hasn't been drafted. She's supposed to be there. April replies they're also supposed to have a child and celebrate Christmas with that child. Owen interrupts the call. They've got to pack up and bug out. There's panic in the camp and Jackson starts asking what's going on. April mentions something about insurgents as Jackson hears the sound of bombs in the background. Then the call fails, leaving Jackson scared and frustrated.

Anne is having a breakdown. JJ tries to calm her down, saying her husband isn't worth it and not good enough for her. JJ keeps on paging someone. Jo rushes in and asks Anne where she's in pain. JJ says her husband showed up and gave her a Christmas present, followed by the statement that he didn't sign up for this. Then he walked out on her. Jo and JJ agree Lance is an ass as Jo gives her something to help her relax. Anne thinks Lance is right. She's been here for months and she still looks disgusting. She wonders who'd want to be married to someone looking like this. JJ asks if Anne would've left or loved her husband if this had happened to her. She repeats that Lance isn't worth it. Him walking out is the best Christmas gift she could've gotten, because she now knows he's not the man for her. She gets to start over, together with JJ. It's their first Christmas together. They reach out to each other, only separated by the wand of glass. JJ says they need some holiday cheer-up. She starts singing about roasting nuts, but Anne reminds her that's not appropriate given their situation. They all laugh, but JJ's next choice, Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, also is an unfortunate choice because Anne's nose is infected. Jo suggests I'll Be Home for Christmas. JJ starts singing the song. 

Callie and Sofia are decorating their living room. Callie takes the Christmas stockings that have their names embroidered on them, leaving Arizona's in the box. They hang their stockings on the fireplace mantel.

Amelia is at the hospital on an elevator. She's all caught up in her thoughts.

Jackson is trying to call April back, but she doesn't pick up.

Jo and Anne have started to sing along with JJ.

Meredith is next to Zola's bed and says Zola has to go to sleep or Santa won't come to bring her presents. Zola asks if he'll bring her a baby sister. Meredith laughs and says not tonight. She kisses Zola goodnight and stands up, revealing her baby bump. As Meredith's in the doorway, Zola says she wishes her daddy was here. Meredith wishes her daughter a good night.

Ellis says she's not sure of anything anymore.

Meredith is sitting on a beach in San Diego.

Ellis says she keeps going over things, like any choice she makes may change everything. However, she knows this is the right thing for her to do, but she didn't expect it would hurt quite this much.

As Meredith watches her children playing, she remembers Ellis telling her it's awful being a grown-up and that the carousel never stops turning. She remembers Derek telling her he wants more, and also the first time they wanted to have a child. She remembers Derek saying he doesn't want to live without her and wanting to prove that to her. She remembers Amelia telling her she's never had to cry over the body of the person that she loved most. Meredith remembers telling Derek she doesn't want to live without him.

New Year's Day

Jackson is screaming at someone on the phone, demanding answers. He angrily hangs up as Arizona walks in. He says everything is not okay. April shouldn't have gone to a combat zone. Arizona understands that April feels like she lost a leg with everything that happened this year. She's learning how to walk again and Jackson has to let her do that. Jackson wonders why, because if she lost a leg, so did he. However, he still gets up every day and faces it instead of flying around the world to join the army. Now all that he has left of her is him yelling at her on the phone. Arizona asks what happened and he brings up the gunfire and the call getting cut off. He says he doesn't know where his wife is and sighs.

Bailey, Catherine, and Maggie are operating together. Bailey doesn't understand how Richard and Catherine can be in love and yet don't see eye to eye when it comes to the marriage thing. Catherine doesn't understand either. She'd think a man would be grateful for a woman who allows him to avoid the romantic nonsense. Maggie says it may not be about her. Maybe it makes Richard feel good and she should just accept it instead of asking him to change his fundamentals. Maybe by not allowing him to be romantic, she's taking something away from him. She apologizes for meddling. Catherine understands she's protecting Richard.

Jo walks into JJ's room. JJ appears to be asleep. Anne's awake and beckons Jo. She and JJ were up all night since they wanted to see the ball drop and then they couldn't stop talking. So Anne is willing to take the first torture shift today to let JJ sleep. Jo closes the curtain between the two rooms and checks on JJ, who doesn't have a pulse. Anne talks about how JJ got burned as Jo covers up JJ's body. Jo wipes her tears and tells Anne she's gonna go grab something really quick, but Anne notices something's up. Anne realizes it's about JJ and she starts banging on the window. Jo forces her to lie down and tells her JJ is gone. Anne breaks down. Anne can't do this all alone.

Meredith remembers her mother telling her she's disappointed upon discovering she is no more than ordinary. She remembers meeting Derek for the first time at Joe's and telling her psychiatrist about her mother's suicide attempt. She remembers Derek calming her down and comforting her and Derek telling her he wants to settle down and grow old with her. She remembers them having sex in an exam room during the prom, their pillow fight and not being able to sleep alone anymore, Meredith telling Derek she misses him and the time she built them the candle house.

Callie's holding Dan's hands. He's about to walk again with a bionic leg. She tells him to concentrate and take it slow. He takes the first steps and they're amazed. He's the best of all the patients she's ever had. He says he couldn't have done it without her. She starts crying and says it's them. The reason his brain can tell his new leg what to do is are the sensors developed by an amazing neurosurgeon. She wouldn't be here without him. He was a brilliant surgeon and a good friend and he would've loved to see this. She wipes her tears and asks if he wants to go again. He does.

Jo walks into JJ's old room, now occupied by a new patient named Laura. From the other room, Anne yells the same advice that JJ gave her on her first day. Jo thanks Anne for the advice and starts debriding. Laura screams in pain and Anne tells her she's gonna be okay.

Jackson's about to leave the hospital as April suddenly greets him from behind him. She should've called, but they were ordered out really fast and they were hopping planes and then she wanted to surprise him. He hugs her tightly.

Richard sees Amelia and asks to have a cup of coffee together, but she has a busy day. He says he hasn't seen her at a meeting in a long while. She repeats she's really busy. Richard heard something from Edwards, so he's checking in to see if she's okay. She says she doesn't have time for coffee or meetings. Her job is not to make him feel better about her. It's her job to make her patients feel better. The hour or two she'd miss by not working are very important to her and to her patients. If she leaves and her patient dies, it's not her who will suffer, it'll be the patient's friends and family. They will hate her and everyone at this hospital because they can’t understand why their loved one is gone and why people leave or get ripped away from your life without warning, in convenience stores and plane crashes and podunk hospitals with podunk doctors who don't do what they're supposed to do, which is save lives. She has drawn everyone's attention by yelling. She then sees Owen looking at her, still wearing his army uniform. Amelia is embarrassed and walks off.

Amelia is seen stumbling around the deck at the dream house. Owen appears and greets her. He says it's good to see her. It felt to him like he's been away forever, but nothing's changed, except they took down the old tree. She's distracted and he says he'll see her around. She tells him she has a baggie of black market oxy and she's trying to decide on whether or not she should take it. She shows him the oxy and says she has the dead Derek thing completely managed. Everybody's been looking at her and waiting for her to fall apart ever since his death like she's a bomb about to go off. Her mother and Addison called her, which is a natural reaction. Every man she's ever loved has died, including her baby. She thanks the universe. She should be crazy, but she's got this. She is amazing, saving lives left and right. People are fighting each other to hear her lecture. She's entertaining and fun. She's a party and she's doing great. She's handling the dead Derek thing really well, except that today, she yelled at Richard, who was just being nice, and then she went to get oxy from this junkie doctor. Owen says she hasn't taken any. She replies not yet, but she might. She really, actually might. She has been sober for 1,321 days and she managed it, but now she might just take oxy. Owen says that all the stuff she's managing, she's not supposed to be managing it. She should be feeling the pain, the loss, and the grief. He says it's normal, but she disagrees. It's not normal to her because she's always shoved it down and done drugs instead. Instead of moving through the pain, she runs from it. Instead of dealing with being hurt and alone and afraid that this horrible feeling might be all their is, he ran from it too by signing on for another active duty. That's what they do, whatever it takes to cover up the pain and dull the sensation. They're supposed to feel, to love, to hate, to break, to grief, to be destroyed, and to build themselves again only to be destroyed all over. That's humanity and being alive. That's the point, so they shouldn't avoid or extinguish it. Amelia says Derek died and starts crying, but she says she doesn't want to feel this. She doesn't think she can. Owen says she has to, because otherwise that bag of oxy won't be her last. She realizes he's right and hands over the oxy. She then lets herself feel the pain and the loss, breaking down. He hugs her and says this is perfectly normal.

Meanwhile in San Diego, Meredith gives Zola a snack. She then feels pain in her stomach.

Ellis says it doesn't matter if she's hurting or alone. She asks where she has to sign. The woman she's been talking to says that it's important to know that by signing, she signs away all the rights to her daughter, now and in the future.

There's a flashback of Ellis telling Meredith she now has to raise her daughter alone. She starts sobbing as she questions how she's expected to do that.

The woman would understand if Ellis needed more time. Ellis only needed more time with him, but it only keeps going forward faster and faster. There's no more time. She can't go back or press pause. The carousel never stops turning. She doesn't need more time. She asks where she has to sign.

Meredith is in pain and she experiences blood loss. Zola sees the blood on the floor and gets worried. Meredith tells her it's okay and remembers the time her mother attempted suicide and told her it's only blood. Zola asks if she should call 911. Meredith remembers her mother telling her to wait, but Meredith herself says yes. She then falls to the floor like her mother did. Like little Meredith did, Zola calls 911 and says her mother needs help. Like Ellis was taken to the hospital, Meredith is being wheeled into the hospital as a paramedic takes Meredith's children out of the ambulance. Zola has her doll with her, like little Meredith brought Anatomy Jane. A social worker takes care of Zola and Bailey. The social worker asks Zola if she was the smart girl who called 911. Zola nods yes. The doctor tells little Meredith she might have saved her mother's life. Little Meredith is waiting in the ER as her mother's being taken care off. In the present, a doctor tells adult Meredith they're about to start, but Meredith asks about her kids. They shouldn't be in here. She remembers everything she went through at the hospital on the day her mother attempted suicide as well as some significant moments with Derek. She's then put under.

A nurse wakes up Meredith and says her husband is here. Alex walks into her room and says he's apparently her emergency contact. She smiles at him and says she had a baby. He knows. She says Derek is dead. He knows that, too.

Meredith remembers the time she spent at the Dillard Medical Center and what Derek told her about the way she handles a crisis. The nurse hands Meredith her new baby.

Meredith takes Alex's hand and says the baby's name is Ellis. She's beautiful. Alex says she looks just like Meredith. Meredith confesses she didn't think she could do it. She thought she was going to die while delivering the baby, but then she saw the baby's face and saw Derek in her. Meredith repeats Ellis is beautiful.

Valentine's Day

Ben and Bailey just had sex on the living room floor near the fireplace. Tuck is with his dad in Disney World, the happiest place on Earth, but now this house is a whole different kind of happy place. Everybody's happy. Ben then gives her an envelope. It's his living will, officially giving her permission to pull his plug as she sees fit. She's not enthusiastic at all. Before, he wanted extraordinary measures because he believed he was going to be a miracle man and come back to her. Ben says they've been arguing about it for months and he just went ahead and signed the papers to stop that. Bailey says that's the meanest thing he's ever done to her, because she interprets this as him no longer loving her enough to hope for a miracle. He reminds her she was yelling at him for not wanting to be unplugged. She replies he wasn't supposed to want to be unplugged. He asks why she's being so crazy about this. She blurts out that she loves him too much. With her first husband, a piece of her always knew she’d be okay if he left. When he did leave, she was okay, but it's different with Ben. Ever since Derek died, she's had these dreams that something happened to him. Ben's a piece of her, so she can't miss him. Therefore, she needs some order and a plan for in case anything should happen to him. She had just gotten used to "the extraordinary measures idea" and now he wants her to pull the plug. She can't deal with that. She needs some order in the middle of this, because it's too much to think about everything that could happen. He promises that he will let her die first. She says that's so wrong. He tells her he loves her too much too. They kiss. She takes his living will and puts it away. She doesn't want to worry about it and says she wants to stay in their bubble together, in the happiest place on Earth. They continue making out.

Richard's name is called by Catherine from the other end of the hall, which is decorated with candles and roses. She's standing on the stairs. She says she's mad at him, because she's doing something she swore she never would. She's asking a question without knowing the answer. Owen asks Bailey what's going on, but a resident hushes him. Catherine says he's worth it to her to stand here like a fool and pronounce her love for him in front of the entire hospital. She loudly states that she loves him, and says she would very much like for him to become her husband. That is, of course, if he would like it too. With the entire crowd staring at him, Richard says it was about damn time. The crowd applauds and cheers as they kiss. A quartet starts playing music.

Meredith, Alex, and her kids enter the dream house. Alex takes Zola to get Bailey and her little sister settled in. Meredith takes a look around in the living room and sighs.

Meredith enters her bedroom. All the pictures and stuff in there remind her of Derek. She looks at the post-it and turns off the lights.

Meredith is lying on her side of the bed and stares at Derek's pillow.

Meredith watches Bailey and Zola play from her kitchen. Amelia appears, holding little Ellis, and they smile at each other.

Meredith is sleeping, this time in the middle of the bed. Derek's pillow is shoved a little out of the way.

Alex, Meredith, and Maggie are drinking beer and eating pizza at Alex's house. Meredith's surprised to hear that Alex hosted a Christmas party. Maggie says hosted is a little bit of an exaggeration. Alex says there was a tree, which Maggie described as really sad. Maggie tells some more about the Christmas party and they all laugh.

Ellis tells the woman that she believes there has to be a way to step off the carousel, start fresh.

Meredith and Bailey are on an elevator at the hospital with a lot of other people. Bailey strokes Meredith's arm and smiles at her. The elevator arrives and everyone gets off. Meredith waits a while, takes a breath and then sets foot in the hospital hallways for the first time in months.

Meredith is standing on the bridge, smiling.

Ellis says there has to be a way to leave all her ghosts behind.

Meredith's getting ready in a lounge. She notices Derek's lab coat hanging in the closet and takes his ferry boat scrub cap out of its pocket. She remembers Derek wearing it and her mother telling her she is anything but ordinary. She then puts the scrub cap on her head.

Ellis says it's a choice she's making, to move forward, past this.

Meredith is gowned and gloved in the OR.

Ellis says she can do that.

Meredith steps up to the table. Bailey asks her if she's ready for this. Meredith says she is. She asks for the 10-blade and makes the cut.

Meredith's voice over finishes up Ellis's words, saying that all she has to do to get past this, is begin.


Main Cast[]

Guest Stars[]


Medical Notes[]

Owen's Patient[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Hip disarticulation
  • Treatment:

Owen asked Callie for her help on a patient with a hip disarticulation.

Callie's Patient[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Tibial plateau fracture
  • Treatment:
    • Surgery

Callie told Maggie a story about a patient she worked on.

Meredith Grey[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Fainting
    • Dehydration
    • Pregnancy
    • Placental abruption
  • Doctors:
  • Treatment:
    • Delivery

Meredith fainted after telling the others that Derek was dead. They put her in a hospital room where she was said to be okay except being dehydrated. She found out at some point that she was pregnant. Around the time she was due, she started bleeding due to a placental abruption. Zola called 911 and at the hospital, her baby Ellis Shepherd, was successfully delivered.

Richard's Patient[]

  • Diagnosis:
  • Treatment:
    • Pacemaker

Richard asked Maggie about his patient's pacemaker. He was seeing the patient for a gallbladder issue.

Callie's Patient[]

  • Diagnosis:
  • Treatment:
    • Laminectomy
    • IVC filter

Callie reminded Maggie that she was placing an IVC filter on her laminectomy patient.

Dan Pruitt[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Cervical spine fracture
    • Broken legs
    • Hypertrophic bone spurs
  • Treatment:
    • Central line
    • Blood transfusion
    • Surgery
    • Spinal fusion
    • Leg amputation
    • Robotic prosthetic

Dan fell off a building while chasing a suspect. He broke his spine and both his legs. He was taken immediately into surgery to stabilize his spine. After his surgery, he was advised that he'd need more surgeries on his spine and Callie told him she wasn't confident she could save his leg. In a later surgery, Amelia removed some bone spurs and Callie said she wasn't having much luck with the leg, meaning it would likely have to be amputated. True to that, she later amputated his leg. However, she was able to get him up and walking again on her robotic leg.

Anne Chambers[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Severe burns
  • Treatment:
    • Debridement
    • Skin grafting

On Easter, Anne was admitted after being in a house fire. She had burns over 60% of her body. Jackson and Jo started treatment of her burns. On Halloween, Jackson told Anne that they'd take some skin from her hip to graft onto her cheek scars, but they had to wait until she'd healed more.


  • Diagnosis:
    • Burns
  • Treatment:
    • Debridement

A few weeks before Anne was admitted, JJ was admitted after being burned at a tailgate party. She had regular debridements like Anne until she died on New Years Day.

Ben Warren[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Hornet sting
  • Treatment:
    • Extraction

On Memorial Day, Ben was stung when he poked a hornets' nest. Bailey removed the stinger with tweezers.

Amelia's Patient[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Spinal abscess
  • Treatment:

Amelia looked at the scans of one of Nelson's patients, who had developed a spinal abscess. She said his work was sloppy.

Bailey's Patient[]

  • Diagnosis:
  • Treatment:
    • Surgery

Bailey, Maggie, and Catherine operated together on a patient.


  • Diagnosis:
    • Severe burns
  • Treatment:
    • Debridement

Laura was admitted to the hospital after being burned.

Meredith's Patient[]

  • Diagnosis:
  • Treatment:
    • Surgery

Meredith operated on a patient with Bailey.


Song Performer Scene
"In the Sun" Aron Wright
  • Callie consoles Stephanie after telling her that Derek's dead.
  • Cristina supports Meredith during Derek's funeral.
  • Meredith sits on the couch during the wake.
  • She remembers the day at the park.
  • Ben and Bailey talk about their wishes. Bailey is shocked that Ben wants to be hooked up to machines.
  • Meredith looks at the post-it on the wall.
"Deck the Halls" Rue Royale
  • Maggie, Arizona, Alex, and Jackson are spending Christmas Eve together.
  • Maggie makes fun of their tree, but Arizona says she started and then a mom went into labor, so she had to leave.
  • Maggie finds a gift from Sofia to Zola and Arizona says Sofia asked her about it and she eventually gave in and just bought a gift just in case.
  • Richard arrives with a yule log.
  • Jackson FaceTimes with April.
  • April says they were supposed to be celebrating Christmas with their child.
  • Owen tells April they need to move.
"Christmas Song" Cast (Nicole Sullivan)
  • JJ sings to Anne to cheer her up.
"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" Cast (Nicole Sullivan)
  • JJ sings to Anne to cheer her up.
"I'll Be Home for Christmas" Cast (Nicole Sullivan, Elizabeth Ann Bennett, and Camilla Luddington)
  • JJ sings to Anne to cheer her up. Jo and Anne join in.
"I'll Be Home for Christmas" She & Him
  • Callie has Christmas with Sofia.
  • She finds Sofia's stocking and gives it to her to hang up.
  • She pulls out Arizona's stocking, looks at it sadly for a moment, and then puts it away.
  • Amelia rides an elevator.
  • Jackson tries to call April back, but it fails.
  • Meredith tucks Zola in to bed.
  • Zola asks if Santa will bring her baby sister. Meredith says not tonight.
  • As Meredith leaves, Zola says she wishes Daddy were there.
"Grace" Kate Havnevik
  • Meredith stands outside lost in thought.
  • Flashbacks of Derek and Meredith.
"Chasing Cars" The Wind and the Wave
  • Alex helps Meredith get the kids settled back in to their house.
  • Meredith looks around the house.
  • She looks at the post-it.
  • Meredith lies in bed and looks at Derek's spot.
  • Meredith watches Bailey and Zola play together.
  • Amelia carries Ellis out into the living room and smiles at Meredith.
  • Meredith asks Maggie about Alex hosting a Christmas party as they eat pizza.
  • Ellis says there has to be a way to start fresh.
  • Meredith rides the elevator with Bailey.
  • Meredith finds Derek's lab coat in attendings' lounge.
  • She takes the ferry boat scrub cap out of his pocket and puts it on.
  • Meredith steps up to the table to operate with Bailey.

Notes and Trivia[]


Grey's Anatomy 11x22 Promo "She’s Leaving Home" (HD)

  • This episode's title originated from the song She's Leaving Home, originally sung by The Beatles.
  • This episode scored 8.74 million viewers.
  • Filming for this episode was scheduled from March 31 to April 14, 2015.
  • The opening title card is black with white letters. Normally, this is the ending title card, but it gets used as the opening title card for a sad episode, such as those about the death of a main character. For example, it has been done before in Going, Going, Gone, the episode where Mark died.
  • Owen saying he knows the protocol in regard to having bad news for a surgeon who's operating is a throwback to Dark Was the Night and Suddenly, when he lied to Teddy Altman about Henry's death while she was operating.
  • Cristina Yang appears at Derek's funeral as the woman holding Meredith's hand, but she's portrayed by a stand-in instead of Sandra Oh, which is why we only see her from behind in a long shot and only her hands and her hair are shown in close-up.
  • This is a two-hour episode which isn't split into two separate episodes, making it the longest episode in the show's history.
  • This episode causes a shift in the overall episodes numbers. Within the season, it's regarded as one episode, but because it required two hours of material to be produced instead of one, it's both the 242nd and 243rd overall episode of the series. At first, Karin Gleason said it was just one episode and that season eleven has 24 episodes with one just being twice as long as normal, but tweets revealed that the production staff viewed episode 12.05 as the 250th overall episode, whereas it normally would be episode 12.06. When asked about this, Karin revealed that from the production's point of view, this episode was viewed as two episodes because of the two hours that had to be produced.
  • Caterina requested that she and Kevin rehearsed the scene on the deck with Owen and Amelia for the entire lunch hour on the day before they had to shoot it, which is something he used to do frequently with Sandra Oh as well.
  • Certain scenes from this episode were filmed at Mountain View Cemetery, Los Angeles Convention Center, St. Luke's Medical Center in Pasadena, and Cabrillo Beach.
  • This episode features numerous songs that were previously used on the show:
  • According to the set decorator Nicole Cramer, Meredith moved to San Diego. The name of the city is also visible on a sign on the beach.
  • This episode marks the fifth time that the voice over is done by a guest star rather than a main character, albeit partially.
  • This episode also marks an update to some of the attendings' lab coats as Meredith, Alex, Bailey, Jackson, and April now have the F.A.C.S. embroidery, signifying their active membership.
  • When Jackson is FaceTiming April on Christmas, his phone shows the percentage is 35% but the battery bar shows that there is over half of the battery left.


Episode Stills[]

Behind the Scenes[]


Meredith: Derek is dead.

Amelia: Who died?
Owen: Amelia...
Amelia: I know the face. I've been here before. Everyone thinks they are the first person in the world to ever look at a human being like that, but... It's always the same face. Who is dead?
Owen: Derek. It's Derek. I'm so, so sorry. It was an MVC accident, and he wanted to help.
Amelia: I don't need the details. Dead is dead.
Owen: I am so... So sorry. I wish there was something I could...
Amelia: Thank you for telling me.
Owen: Amelia, if there's anything I can...
Amelia: I'm good. I've done this before. I know the drill. It's not a big deal.

Amelia: I have a baggie full of black-market oxy in my coat pocket, and I'm trying to decide whether or not to take it. I've got the dead-Derek thing completely managed. I know people were worried. Since he died, everybody's been looking at me, waiting for me to fall apart or freak out or just become a mess. Like some bomb everyone thinks is supposed to go off. My mother was calling three, four times a day. Addison was calling --everyone. It makes sense. It's natural. Every man I've ever loved has died. Including my baby. Thank you, universe. So, I should be, like... Greek tragedy, turned to stone, bat-crap crazy, but I'm good. I got this. I am fine. I'm telling you, I'm amazing. I am saving lives left and right. I am putting butts in the seats in that OR gallery. I mean, people are fighting to hear me lecture. I am entertaining. Joke, joke, joke! I'm funny! I'm fun! I'm a party! I'm doing... I'm great! I'm handling the dead-Derek thing really well.
Owen: Okay.
Amelia: Except today, I yelled at Richard, who was only trying to invite me for coffee, and then I went and scored oxy from this junkie doctor.
Owen: But you haven't taken any?
Amelia: Not yet. But I might. That's the thing. I really actually might. I have been sober for 1,321 days, Owen. I was fine. It was managed. But I might.
Owen: All this stuff you're... managing. You're not supposed to be managing it. You're supposed to be feeling it -- Grief, loss, pain. It is normal.
Amelia: It's not normal.
Owen: It is. It is normal. It's not normal to you 'cause you've never done it. Instead of feeling it, feeling the grief and the pain, you've shoved it all down and you do drugs instead. Instead of moving through the pain, you run from it. You... Instead of dealing with being hurt and alone and afraid that this horrible, empty feeling is all there is, I run from it. I run off, and I sign up for another tour of active duty. We do these things. We run off, and we... we medicate. We do whatever it takes to cover it up and dull the sensation, but it's not normal. We're supposed to feel. We're supposed to love and hate... And hurt and grieve and break and... Be destroyed and... Rebuild ourselves to be destroyed again. That is human. That is humanity. That's... That's being alive. That's the point. That's the entire point. Don't... don't avoid it. Don't... Extinguish it.
Amelia: Derek died. He died. I don't want to feel it. I... I don't think I can. I don't think I even want to... I can't. I can't. I can't do this. I can't.
Owen: You have to. If you don't...
Amelia: No, I can't. Shh, I can't do this!
Owen: You have to. If you don't, that bag of oxy's not gonna be your last.
Owen: You're gonna be okay. You're gonna survive this, okay? Everybody does. It's perfectly normal. It's boring, even. It's so normal.

Maggie: (to Alex) This isn't why I came to Seattle. I didn't know exactly why I was coming, but... I knew it had to do with finding out about my family, and I found Meredith. And then she... I never felt abandoned by my birth mother. My parents never let me, not for a second. We were meant to be a family. I believe that. I know that. But...but I think this is how I would've felt...if I had.

Richard: I'm not accusing you. I'm checking in. You know, I get to check in. That's the kind of friends we are.
Amelia: I do not have time for coffee. I do not have time for meetings. I don't... My job is not to make you feel better about me. My job is to make my patients get better. Do you know what can happen in the hour or two I would be wasting with you? An hour or two matters! They matter to me. They should matter to you. They matter to my patients. If I leave and my patient dies, it's not me who will suffer, it is his mother, his sisters, his friends, his wife, and they will hate me. With everything inside them, they will hate me and you and everyone here because they won't understand why he is gone, why people always leave, why everyone you give a crap about walks away or is ripped from your world without warning, without reason, in convenience stores and plane crashes and podunk hospitals with podunk doctors who don't do what they are supposed to do, which is save people!

Meredith: Baby's name is Ellis. Did you see her? She's beautiful.
Alex: Bet she looks just like you.
Meredith: I didn't think I could do it. Part of me thought, "What if I have this baby and just die?" And then she arrived, and I saw her face, and I saw him in her. She's beautiful.

Miranda: I love you too much! It's too much. Okay, my first husband. Okay, if he left, a piece of me always knew that I would be okay, and when he did leave, I was, but you... Ever since Derek died, I sit up in the middle of the night, gasping for air, terrified. I've been having these dreams that something happened to you. So, if something happened... I love you too much. Like, you are a piece of me. I love you. So... I need a plan. I need rules. I need some order, and I had just gotten used to your dumb miracle-man idea, and now you're telling me you want me to pull the plug, and I can't deal with that. I... Just order and, uh, some rules and a plan and some order in the middle of this, 'cause if I have to think about what could happen, it's too much.
Ben: I promise... I promise that I will let you die first.
Miranda: That is so wrong!
Ben: Hey, I love you too much, too.

Dr. Dreyfuss: Two hours. Two! For a routine neuro consult. I get we're down a guy, but I'm sorry, the board needs to get off their asses and hire a new neurosurgeon already.
Maggie: (to Arizona) Don't make a scene. It's not worth it.
Arizona: I know.
Dr. Dreyfuss: Well, it's irresponsible is what it is. It's bad management. How hard is it to find o—
Arizona: Really? Really?! You think that we need to just get off our asses? We should do you that solid because the loss of our colleague and friend is all about your needs, your schedule? You think that we should be sensitive to that? How about you take a minute to think about the person, the talent, the life that we lost?! How about you think before you start complaining that Derek Shepherd's death has been inconvenient for you?!
Arizona: (to Maggie and Alex) I made a scene.

Amelia: If Derek saw this, he would roll over in his grave. Can you actually do that? Roll over in a grave? I mean, a casket's pretty snug. There's not a lot of room to move in there. More like shake. If Derek saw this, he would shake in his grave. Shimmy, maybe.
Stephanie: Please stop.
Amelia: Stop what?
Stephanie: You've been making a lot of jokes and comments about...
Amelia: My dead brother?
Stephanie: Yeah, which... No judgment -- It just makes me very uncomfortable.
Amelia: Why? It's the truth. He's my brother...and he's dead.
Stephanie: There are some... I checked, and there are some grief groups that meet, and I just thought, look, I can go with you. My grandmother passed last year. It would be really good for me, too. 
AmeliaEdwards, I have a morbid sense of humor, but I'm fine. I don't need a group. But thank you. It's very thoughtful of you. Okay?
Stephanie: Okay. 
Amelia: Let's just put it to rest. Like my brother. Ha!

See Also[]

A complete overview of this episode's crew can be found here.