Sharing your Pain with Others Leads to Closeness and Connection

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Our guest blogger, Casey Dwyer, describes how she learned that allowing others to share in her pain during a difficult time, taught her a meaningful lesson in how deep connections and community are really formed.

“In February 2012, I was introduced to Hospice for the first time and my life was changed in ways I wouldn’t fully understand or appreciate for many years to come. I now realize the very important lesson I learned in a short period of time.

I was a freshman in high school when, on my birthday, my grandmother came to live with us, accompanied by a hospital bed and oxygen tank. Her COPD had progressed and she required around the clock care. Our home suddenly became a hub for her six children, their spouses, 14 grandchildren and multiple clinicians and volunteers from Hospice. She lived with us for eight months and during that time, we experienced tears, laughter, storytelling, and unbelievable selflessness. The way my grandmother was cared for is, to this day, the most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed.

I was amazed by the care Hospice provided to ALL of us during those eight months, not just to my Nanny. They walked each of us through the most joyful highs and the most difficult lows, and eventually through the loss of our beloved Nanny. The services provided by Hospice allowed our family to focus on making the last months of my grandmother’s life pain-free and peaceful. They removed burdens and stress that can accompany caring for someone at the end of their life, which gave us space to enjoy my grandmother’s company and grieve our eventual loss. Their presence in our home showed me the important task we are given as humans to care for the people around us. The nurses walked in as strangers in February and left as part of our family in October. Our Hospice team opened their hearts to us while we opened our home to them, and it became a beautiful fusion of concentrated care, celebration, and community.

That’s what happens when we allow others into the toughest parts of our lives - we find a way to build community and our capacity to love expands. This lesson became clear to me during our time with Hospice, and it was this lesson that first led me to Social Work, a field that I have fallen in love with and am proud to be pursuing. For the rest of my life, I will be grateful that I was able to witness one selfless, love-filled act after another for eight months straight. Being in the care of Hospice and having the opportunity to care for my grandmother has continued to shape my world-view, and given me the ability to share the biggest burdens in this life with the people around me- an act that has allowed me to find connection and community in every place I’ve been.”

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Casey Dwyer is Junior at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Her Major in Social Work is a perfect match for her big heart. Full disclosure: she is my niece and I think she is pretty amazing.