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Against the Wind
When I decided to finally try my hand at this podcast, I didn’t know where to start. The subject matter was exciting, but daunting, and I didn’t have a clear idea of who I could talk to about any of these topics.
Doing what I usually do when I can’t come up with a best solution, I asked people smarter than me for help. In a late-night, seemingly random Facebook post, I asked if anyone might be interested in sharing their perspective/knowledge/expertise on some aspect of grief/death/loss with me.
My longtime friend, Shannon Barnes, was the first person to reply. She mentioned that she would be interested in sharing her experiences as a palliative care social worker, and if I was interested, would also reach out to other members of her team to see if they wanted to share their perspectives. Within 24 hours, I had 4 interviews lined up. Suddenly–breathtakingly fast–this idea was becoming a reality.
Shannon being the conduit for this is not really a surprise, based on our history. I met her shortly after moving to Houston at age 22. I just experienced what at the time felt like the worst year of my life, totally unsure what to do with myself next. I took a part-time job at Borders (RIP), converting a one-bedroom apartment into a suitable living space for me and my roommate by pinning up a curtain in one of the rooms, and did my best to try and figure out what it meant to be an adult. Shannon was friends with the guy I was dating at the time, and while it would have been easy to stick with the tightknit friend group already formed, she went out of her way to show me kindness and where to find good Tex-Mex. She took the time to get to know me, learn my story, and share hers in return. At a time when I painfully, desperately, needed acceptance, she offered it without hesitation.
Based on our history, it’s no surprise that her life path brought her to social work, and now, more specifically, in palliative care social work, where she can apply the empathy and grace I experienced with her firsthand to people during the times they need it most. I’m thankful for this opportunity to talk to her about the work she does and the ways that she and her team help to assist people at a time when compassion is most necessary.
For anyone looking to get in touch with Shannon, you can reach her via email.