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What you will learn
- We are not taught about death & dying in pharmacy school
- Offering Kindness, Empathy & Compassion in the face of death
- Death in the Pandemic
- Self Care and Coping
- And More
Links & Resources
- Take our PrEP Course: To Be PrEPared or Not To Be PrEPared: The Role of The Pharmacist in HIV Prevention
- Put on Your Oxygen Mask First
- To Recharge You Must Unplug
- Lessons From My Father- The Joy of Service to Others
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This is Michelle Sherman, president of MichRX pharmacists consulting services and the host of the conscious pharmacist podcast. We are proud to be a podcast of the pharmacy podcast network and a general and reporting for active duty as part of the us farmy episode this week is really important as we really are you really a year into this global pandemic that have blown out minds each and every one of us, I’m sure I called this episode, empathy, compassion, kindness, and grace coping with grief and the grieving. This struck me a few weeks ago when I read an article, I don’t know if it was on the LinkedIn or Twitter of the American pharmacist association or a pharmacist on my Twitter feed, who, who was talking about the work that they were doing and how we are not taught in school, how to deal with death and the dying.
And that really struck me because it really struck a chord for what we’ve been dealing with. This post you with this pandemic. And that is so true. I bring this episode from my own perspective. You know, we’ve all been dealing with this global pandemic for a year. I’ve been working in and dealing with a global pandemic for the last 30 years with the HIV pandemic. And when I read that, that they tweeted really took me way back when, to the 1980s, when first friends were dying and nobody could do anything, nobody knew what was going on. And then as a pharmacist, really finding my purpose and my role in the universe, in my career and where I knew I had go caring for people living with HIV. But as I reflected on this tweet that I read about dealing with grief and grieving and patients dying, it really took me back to that place they’ve placed that has been ongoing for the last what’s more than 25 years.
When I go back and look at luckily all my patients that I’ve lost and that have died over the years, it’s pages and pages and pages of names, hundreds of people who impacted not only my life, but think about their families, their coworkers, just what the universe lost by losing these people. And what I realized was over these years, I’ve really started to learn how to cope with dying and grief and grieving. And sometimes we don’t always take our own advice and put things into play, to take care of ourselves. It was almost like a premonition if you will. When I look back at previous episodes of the conscious pharmacist podcast I look back at the podcast from October 4th, 2019, the prelude, if you will, to this nightmare that we’ve all been living and episode 20 was called put on your oxygen mask first. And what I really discussed in that episode was we as healthcare providers and pharmacists on the front lines, taking care of our patients, we in order to take care of our patients and our families, whatnot, we have to take care of ourselves first.
You know, it’s like getting on that plane. And you know, when I thought about that, where it’s like, Oh my God, when was the last time I was in a plane? I remember in 2019, I flew like 24 times in that year. I haven’t been on a plane since Christmas of 2019. And you know, how they tell us we’ve, you know, on the safety checks, you’ve got to put on your oxygen mask first, before you put on that of your children and so on. And that rings so true. We cannot take care of our families and our patients until we can take care of ourselves. So putting on our own oxygen mask is really important. So there was an October 4th, 2019, and then I looked further just a couple of episodes later from episode 22, episode 23 to recharge, you must unplug. And in this episode I talked about, you know, doing our own personal self-care regimen, really what do we do as pharmacists, our own self care to reach recharge, to unplug, to unplug from our phones, from our work and how do we recharge ourselves so we can get up on Monday morning and do it all over again.
And I wanted to do this episode today because look, reflecting back on those two episodes that I did putting out an oxygen on my oxygen mask on first and to recharge, we must unplug. I realized how we is really extraordinary healthcare workers. You know, one of my favorite sayings is to be the change you wish to see in the world and to all of you, to all my colleagues out there over this last year. Not only do you want to be the change we are the change you are the change. We are the change. We have done extraordinary things in this last year. When you sit back and reflect to take care of our patients, to take care of the grieving to Kate, take care of the dying. And most of all, we need to take care of our own grief. And when I reflected on this utilized, I don’t always practice what I preach.
You know, we put our heads down, we do our work and do we always take care of ourselves? Do we always recharge? Do we always unplug? And I can only speak for myself in the answer is no. So back to grief and grieving, not only for our patients and their families, but for ourselves. I mean, you all know it 2020 was a suck. Yeah. Right? For all of us, for me, it sucked because again, on July 31st, my dad passed away. So not only was I trying to work with people who are grieving, grieving for the loss of a job, grieving for the loss of our ability, because of the lockdown to just go and do the things we want to do. And then grieving for loved ones. I was grieving too. I’m still grieving for my dad. What I did was put my head down and work every single day, taking care of my patients, doing tele-health consultations, growing the consulting business, growing my work, growing my podcast.
But do we sit back and reflect to recharge, unplug, and face our grief hit on? Not always. So they don’t teach us this stuff in pharmacy school. So how do we cope with grief in the grieving? Just like we always do with empathy, compassion, kindness, and grace, be there for your patients. What I’ve always learned often dealing with death and dying for the last over 25 years is as pharmacists. We can’t always fix everything. We cannot fix everything. I’ll say it again. We cannot fix everything is not a pill that can fix everything. We cannot cure everything. But my, my friends, my colleagues, my warriors, the us for me, we can always be there in our patient’s time of need our colleagues. Time of need to help them heal. I’ve seen this time and time again when patients and in the case of my father have to go on a hospice when we know the end is near and there’s nothing more you can do.
I mean, palliative care is such a critical part of our work and our colleagues work and what we do, we cannot always cure somebody of fix somebody, but we, as conscious pharmacists can always be there to help somebody heal before they die. If they need to access something, express something, just being there with empathy, compassion, kindness, and grace, just listening to the patient, to their loved ones and just listening and offering them here. We, in the worst times of our patient’s families and our patients’ lives, when they’re nearing death, if we often have an ear and we offer empathy, compassion, kindness in grace, we can help them heal. That is like the ultimate gift in the ultimate journey is so many what? Over 530,000 Americans have transitioned from this lifetime to the next plane. That is the greatest gift we can offer somebody, empathy, compassion, kindness, and grace.
Then how do we, as healthcare providers cope with grief in the grieving, our own grief at losing all our patients, maybe family members, colleagues, friends, also, it is with empathy, compassion, kindness, and grace towards ourselves, our families, our colleagues, and their loved ones that we get through this together. We have to get through it together. That’s how we cope with this a couple of months ago. It was working and or is it working with the client and driving around the back of one of the hospitals in orange County, in an area that is one of the highest hit with COVID in orange County. And we know what November, December and January was like, it was like a death nail every time, the second hand moved on the clock and I was driving behind the back parking lot of the hospital and stopped at a stop sign and watched is two security guards were wheeling a gurney with the sheet over it through the park, out of the back of the hospital, through the parking lot to six shipping containers that were situated at the back of the parking lot.
Those with a makeshift morgues for this hospital, shipping containers with refrigeration units attached. And as they pulled the sheet of the gurney, there was a body wrapped in a sheet. And at that instant, I just broke down because at that moment, this awful pandemic became so real. They were somebody who probably died with a pharmacist, a nurse, a doctor, a respiratory therapist at their bedside, holding their hand, maybe with their family on FaceTime. Maybe not that person died alone, but they were worried there’s healthcare providers who will with their person in their transition. And seeing that person being put in the back of a shipping container was a turning point for me.
What do we need to do as warriors in the us for me to take care of ourselves so we can keep going with this. This is not going away. Patients are still dying. I mean, the death rate in orange County is still as the County reopens to D this week in double digits. We have to, if empathy, compassion, kindness, and grace to help. Yeah. Patients’ families, our patients, our colleagues deal with death and dying and grief and grieving. We have to do those things that we have to do put out oxygen mask on, unplug recharge, meditate, go with a walk for a walk on the beach, stand in the middle of the street or in the park or on the beach and scream as loud as you can, whatever it is that you need to do, go and do it. We need to recharge. We need to unplug. We need to grieve. That is how we, as the U S for me take care of the death, the dying, the grief and the grieving. I own those of our colleagues and those of our patients. Remember you are awesome. We are the change. We are the U S pharmacy, and we will make a difference. Always be the change.