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02.2019 - Anonymous

Updated: Oct 4, 2019

Life goes on in dental school.

This is probably a more serious post than what normally would be posted on this blog, but it's real. I lost my grandfather not even a month ago. He wasn't feeling well for the past week and went in for a procedure to discern the cause. It was a Tuesday, I was anxious that day. I remember sitting through my morning lectures but not being able to concentrate. My brother continued to update us in our family group text. For the most part, it was just waiting, but somewhere during my afternoon lecture, my brother notified us that it was more urgent than we thought. I was shocked. We thought worst case scenario would be that the doctors would find something terminal, and we would go from there. We never thought there was a chance that he wouldn't even make it out of the procedure.

I was torn. What do I do? Do I leave now? Could I make it there in time? What would my professor think if I left in the middle of class? Would it make a difference if I was there? It was a six-hour drive. Deep down, I knew what was going to happen. But my heart wanted to leave immediately; I felt the need to be on the way just to close the physical gap between us, maybe somehow that would give him strength to pull through. But I knew there was nothing I could do to change things. I remained in class until the professor began wrapping up the lecture, and then I went home to pack and prepare to be home through the weekend for the expected funeral.

My grandfather passed sometime during my drive home. I spent time with my family that night and the following day. My dad suggested that I return to school for Thursday and Friday classes so that I wouldn't be as behind in work and to return home after class to attend the funeral that weekend. So I did. Those two days were tough. I only allowed a few of my classmates to know what had happened; I knew I wouldn't be able to bear accepting condolences so soon, so I chose not to disclose it to others. In those two days, I kept to myself and focused on my lab work, which provided plenty of distraction because so much work piled on in that one day I missed! Luckily for me, those few classmates who knew provided me with notes and lab instruction so that I didn't miss a beat. =)

The funeral came and went; it was a beautiful service and gave us much comfort and healing during our time of loss. I returned to school on Monday and continued on. I do admit, I am a bit more sluggish with my studies than normal, but I am pushing on. I do take time to grieve; it's like these "micro moments" where I allow the emotions to release so that I can clear my head to focus on school work. I have never endured a loss so close before, but losing a loved one during dental school taught me several things:

  • Your family will understand that school is still a priority; know that it's also their priority that you finish! Do not feel guilty that you weren't there for those last moments; do not feel that things could have changed had you done anything differently. Be there for the moments that you can.

  • Your friends and classmates have your back. They will be there for you emotionally when you are too far away to seek comfort from your family, and they will be there for you academically so that you don't get lost catching up with missed school work. Your dental class IS your second family!

  • DENTAL SCHOOL WAITS FOR NO ONE. The lesson plans continue, the deadlines remain the same. Don't use your loss as a crutch; it will only add to your stress. ASK FOR HELP. Do whatever it takes to keep pace as best you can.

This currently is my life as a dental student. It's not always going to be rainbows and butterflies. You never know what will happen, but one thing is certain: life goes on in dental school.

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