Living with Dying

It was my first time actually
seeing someone die.
We’d just met, but as she
took her last breath
I had the feeling I’d known her
for a long time.

As I watched her family
I felt myself tearing up inside,
feeling the fragility of life.
After we left, I wished
we could talk about it,
but that’s not part
of our culture in medicine.

She could have been my mother.
She could have been me.
Part of living is dying,
but it’s not healthy
obsessing over death.

I long for resolve, release–
a way to find peace
and dance with the grief;
a way to find more beauty
in the everyday.

Maybe it’s finally time
to get to know
my own soul…

Notes from the interview that inspired this poem:

“I’ve been thinking a lot about my own mortality and the fragility of life,” she said. She was a third-year med student and had just finished her palliative care rotation. She shared a story about losing a patient, and told me it was the first time she had ever witnessed someone die. “There’s not a lot of space or time to process emotion,” she said. “I actually felt really sad.” She told me that since then, she had been obsessing about death, and she knew it wasn’t healthy, but the experience had triggered a lot of fear and worry in her. She wanted to learn how to be able to accept death (as it was an inevitable part of all life), without thinking about it all the time. She asked me if I had seen the movie “Soul,” and said it had reminded her of the importance of learning to see everyday beauty as a way to find joy in the present moment.

Interviewee: Anonymous, Medical Student
Listener Poet: Jenny Hegland

Comments are closed.

Up ↑