Today I listened to a podcast episode featuring the formidable Dolly Parton. What an amazing, kind hearted woman she is. She was interviewed by the equally incredible Brene Brown.

It was a broad ranging conversation full of light and shade as she shared stories. Some funny anecdotes like a discussion about Burt Reynolds, others deep and heart wrenching. Dolly Parton is an expert storyteller.

One part of the conversation talked about not turning away from people in pain. Of the need to bear witness to others sorrow and be there for them, even if that just means offering a few kind words.

After listening to the episode I went to conduct a home visit where I had to do just what they talked about. Bear witness to pain that had no easy fix. Physical and emotional. Persistent and inescapable.

I suppose, when you’re in the business of caring, that’s what we do in so many of our interactions. We don’t tell the stories like Dolly Parton, we simply allow space for the stories to reveal themselves.

Its a privilege to be permitted to act as a storyfinder. Sometimes they’re hidden in places where few people have been allowed to see. But it can also feel like a burden, to face up to the darker side of life. To recognise what pain looks like.

This challenge was also discussed in the podcast. How to balance keeping yourself vulnerable to connect with others while still maintaining your boundaries. Because while we can bear witness to these stories we can’t afford to be consumed by them. And this is a skill to be developed.

We don’t acknowledge this human side of things much in the world of pharmacy. Possibly because we’re not exactly known for our empathy. I hope it gets talked about more in other disciplines. Because delivering person centred care requires us to act as storyfinders. The people who are suffering need their stories to be heard.

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