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A Thank you to David Bowie

Posted 1/19/2016

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  Although I was never a passionate David Bowie fan, it would be have been impossible to grow up when I/we did and not be aware of his genius and his music. It also would have been impossible over recent days to be unaware of his death at home from cancer and the almost simultaneous release of his final album.

It has been interesting to me that his death opened the door to several conversations I have had recently with very ill patients. When we can begin by talking about someone else's death and his apparent EOL (end of life) choices, it is easier to move to our own demise. A gentle transition from the general/philosophical to the personal is less terrifying that plunging right in.

 One of my social work colleagues forwarded this essay to our Department. It is written by a palliative care physician in the UK and is wonderful. Whether or not you were a Bowie fan, I encourage you to read this. Here is the beginning and a link:

A thank you letter to David Bowie from a palliative care doctor

Dear David,

Oh no, don’t say it’s true – whilst realization of your death was sinking in during those grey, cold January days of 2016, many of us went on with our day jobs. At the beginning of that week I had a discussion with a hospital patient, facing the end of her life. We discussed your death and your music, and it got us talking about numerous weighty subjects, that are not always straightforward to discuss with someone facing their own demise. In fact, your story became a way for us to communicate very openly about death, something many doctors and nurses struggle to introduce as a topic of conversation. But before I delve further into the aforementioned exchange, I’d like to get a few other things off my chest, and I hope you don’t find them a saddening bore.

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