The Art of Palliative Medicine - 2016 Semester 2
I wrote this poem immediately after seeing our palliative care patient. It is a reflection on what he said, but also a kind of note to him, of the things I wished I could have said in the interview but didn’t feel were appropriate.
The poem is a reflection on his dependence on others, but also that his dependence is not unique. He may be more clearly and deeply dependent on others than most people, but one of the things I was reflecting on after the interview was that none of us is able to be entirely independent, we just camouflage it better.
PDF version of " You Do Not Stand Alone "
You do not stand alone when you die.
You do not die alone.
A creeping loss of ability, horizons changing.
A basketball player
Only one hand works
and later, slowly,
the lungs give up.
Until all is still.
You cannot stand alone when you die.
Others’ hands take the place of your own
cutting your food
a shadow of a future
where they breathe for you.
Others’ lives are part of yours
living with you
living in you.
You will not stand alone when you die.
None of us stand alone
the food we eat
the air we breathe
shared, connecting us.
Our lives entwine
we stand together
we live together
members of each other.
You shall not stand alone when you die.