Shonda Rhimes Grey's Anatomy

Grey's Anatomy Boss Shonda Rhimes Reveals Reason for That McDreamy-Fueled One-Year Time Jump

Shonda Rhimes saved Meredith Grey a ton of grief — 12 months’ worth to be exact — in the wake of Derek’s tragic death.

The Grey’s Anatomy boss tells TVLine that the decision to flash forward an entire year last May immediately following the passing of McDreamy had everything to do with Ellen Pompeo‘s inconsolable widow.

“I couldn’t imagine a world in which Meredith could go a month and be able to speak or breathe — or [even] six months,” Rhimes shares. “I needed time to pass for her to even be in a place where I felt like she could have a conversation.”

Rhimes herself had a tough time grappling with the loss. “It was brutal,” she laments. “I found it incredibly painful to write and incredibly painful to watch. I didn’t go to a single moment of the filming because I was like, ‘I’m just going to stand there and cry like an idiot.'”

The silver lining amid all the Sturm und Drang? The “amazing” performances turned in by Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey. Raves Rhimes: “The work that [Patrick] did and the work that Ellen did just killed me.”