Last week I had this dream that just stuck with me all day. I felt like I had something to express with that dream, but it just didn't really come together in my head. Needless to say it's still on my mind, but has developed into thoughts on grief. The dream was about someone whom I have known most of my life and they were dying. It was not really sad though. The person in the dream is not sick in real life and is still very active. In the dream he was very sick and in a sparse bare room, almost like a massage room with no decor. It was on a day that there was a town festival going on, so many people kept coming up to visit this man. What struck me about the dream was how happy he was and seemed to feel better with each visit. At one point in the dream he even came out of the room. The visits didn't stop him from dying, but it just seemed like such a great way to pass away.
Since I had that dream it made me realize how much I am surrounded by grief. My life right now is pretty happy, but I have had moments of grief. I've lost a job, a pet, had a miscarriage, and other moments too personal to share. Losing a close friend or family member has not happened to me yet, and I must admit it scares me to think about those inevitable times. For my whole life my parents have made it a habit for myself and my siblings to attend calling hours and funerals for family, friends and customers. Working in a pharmacy you encounter grief and death often. Some deaths are harder to understand, especially when they are unexpected. But even if they are expected it's very sad to watch loved ones who have been the caretaker try to deal with their grief.
So as I thought about this I found a chapter in one of our educational materials from the pharmacy called Grief: Its Impact on Your Customers and You! First it went over how you understand grief, death and dying and then the stages of grief - Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. The part about empathy I found very interesting, especially when you are trying to help a caregiver or patient decide on the right equipment to purchase. I find it humbling to listen to customers and hear about the deterioration of skills and how difficult it is to accept that they need assistance to for daily needs, like dressing, walking, and going to the bathroom. By learning to be a better listener and to ask the right questions, I hope that we can not only help our customers, but also make their lives easier and make less trips back and forth to the store for medicine and equipment.
You would think that death would be our biggest fear, but it's not in the article, public speaking is. "According to psychologists, the reality is that death so scares us that our primary approach is not fear, but denial. In actuality, our greatest fear is death, and the unknown aspects of it create even greater anxiety." Thankfully there are so many resources available to help us with our fears like Hospice, community groups, medical professionals, websites, and books. These resources can break down the stages of grief and help with techniques to deal with stress. In my observations, the time of dying and death can be extremely tiring, discouraging and yet there is also tenderness and lots of love too. I think that is what my dream was telling me. Death can be so devastating that you think you will never recover as a caregiver, but yet I have also been reading blogs and books where you do survive and find new joys. It doesn't make the memories go away or the hopes of what could have been, but if you look towards the light rather than the dark you can find happiness in ways you never expected.