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Doctor Writes Emotional Letter to David Bowie About Terminally Ill Patient

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Dr. Mark Taubert, a palliative care doctor at Velindre NHS Trust in the U.K., wrote a letter to David Bowie thanking the iconic musician for helping him discuss death with one of his terminally ill patients.

After 18 months living with cancer, Bowie died on Jan. 10, and the letter was published on the BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care blog on Jan 15. The Sunday after, Bowie’s son Duncan Jones tweeted a link to the letter addressed to his dad.

In it, Taubert describes the conversation he had with a woman who is “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,” Taubert wrote. “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.”

Taubert says many individuals think death is something that happens in clinical settings, but that he presumes Bowie chose to spend his final days at home. “This is one of our aims in palliative care, and your ability to achieve this may mean that others will see it as an option they would like fulfilled,” Taubert wrote.

Circling back around to the conversation Taubert had with his patient, he wrote:

“[W]e talked about a good death, the dying moments and what these typically look like … [She told me] that she wanted to be at home when things progressed, not in a hospital or emergency room, but that she’d happily transfer to the local hospice should her symptoms be too challenging to treat at home.”

Taubert concluded the letter by thanking Bowie and wrote:

“We both wondered who may have been around you when you took your last breath and whether anyone was holding your hand. I believe this was an aspect of the vision she had of her own dying moments that was of utmost importance to her, and you gave her a way of expressing this most personal longing to me, a relative stranger.”

You can read Taubert’s post in its entirety on the BMJ blog.

h/t Irish Times

Originally published: January 19, 2016
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