When I share my story, I always talk about what happened to Andrew as being the most egregious error(s). Careless errors in a system that obviously did not work. I also speak about how these errors were not made on purpose – no one set out to harm him or to turn our world upside down. What I know, is that making a mistake can feel shameful. When you screw up, like really screw up, the feeling in the pit of your stomach is nauseating and raw, and I imagine that’s what it felt like for the staff at the pharmacy when the coroner and police showed up in July 2016 to tell them what had happened back in March.
These were not malicious or uncaring people. They knew that we were paying somewhat out of pocket for the compounded meds, so they would give us a break on the price. Two weeks after Andrew died, they called to see if we needed a refill on his meds and when my sister (who took the call) told them that he had passed away and we didn’t know why, they sent a lovely flower arrangement. Two years later, I discovered that the pharmacy owner had volunteered to learn about the AIMS program (Ontario’s safety program for community pharmacists) – an effort to improve his practice. All of this is conducive to what we know of the majority of healthcare providers – empathetic, caring individuals, working to improve the lives of the people they serve.
So why then do I stumble on the concept of forgiveness? And do I have to forgive the people or the situation? How is it I can process what has happened but not let go of fault when I firmly believe that if there had been better processes in place that day in March, the gaps where the errors happened in Andrew’s case may not have happened. Acceptance. While I cannot firmly say that I can offer forgiveness, I can wholeheartedly say that I accept what happened and I cannot turn back the clock. That’s where my drive kicks in – making sure that no one else goes through the devastation that we have been through, because of a crack in the system.