During her childhood, she constantly pushed herself to achieve the best possible marks to allow herself to achieve her dream of being in Starfleet, often being encouraged to do so by her family. However, this drive meant that she was forced to sacrifice most of her personal time, particularly time that she wishes she could have spent with her baby brother Casey - whom she always felt particularly close to as they were the only members of her family to share the same eye color - who died in infancy; she was unable to attend the funeral because she had tests that day.
While serving on the Enterprise, she had a brief conversation with Commander Riker which prompted him to find out more about her, and subsequently encourage her to find a hobby. During a later conversation with Counselor Deanna Troi, Gretchen admitted her guilt over her inability to be there for her brother, prompting Troi to speculate that she pushed herself as hard as she did to justify the sacrifices she had made. On Troi's advise, Gretchen began to volunteer in the Enterprise nursery to help care for the ship's younger children, Troi hoping that this would give Gretchen the chance to heal from the memory of her brother's death. (TNG novelization: Unification)