The Enigma Of Death – a Physician’s Perspective

For those of you who are following, if you can really call it that with one post, you have noticed that it has been more than a month.

I promised myself when I started that I would write when the spirit moved me and not feel guilty when it didn’t. I have kept to my word, mostly.

Lately, it seems as though there are a large number of people in my life who are facing death…head-on. Some are staring it down, and others are anxious and fearful.

Physicians are frequently asked about death : how long do I have (I never answer this one because I prefer not to look like a complete idiot.), will I experience pain, what happens next, will you be there, and how do physician’s experience the death of a patient. Do they mourn? Do they cry? Do they miss their patient?

I have decided to answer two of the questions…

“Will you be there?”…Yes, I have always been in for the duration. When occasionally questioned on how long I might be staying,  I respond that I will depart with Jesus and my patient.

I believe it is equally important to help a dying patient as it is to help one survive a serious illness. (My comment is in no way referring to or commenting on physician assisted suicide.)

How do Physician’s experience the death of a patient? I can only answer for myself…

Two years spent as a Hospice Medical Director, one who attended deaths on request, and 7 years spent on my own personal walk with Jesus have left me with what I think are some unusual perspectives on death.

To start with, I am not afraid to die. And I do not view death as a bad event. It is expected. The only real questions are when will it happen, and how can I contribute to making it a positive experience for the patient, family, and friends.

There is a prerequisite to the “meaningful, dignified” experience. And it is simply acceptance. Acceptance of what is to come…

I do mourn the loss of every patient I have had the privilege of caring for over the years. As I gaze around my office wiping back tears there are so, so many reminders: an old ornate perfume bottle, 2 beautiful shells, a military insignia, a pair of handmade earrings, blown glass from one last trip to Europe, a well-worn afghan knit at the bedside, many pictures, a small anchor, and the poem “The Parting Glass”.

I look around and remember and smile in celebration of the people I have had the privilege of knowing and all that they taught me along the way.

At the end of the day, there is one simple truth: it is God’s will, God’s way. He has merely gifted me with the experience of being an observer.

May you find God’s Grace in every day!

Cheers Tom “the jazz man”…




Published by


Christian, Physician, Photographer, Journalist

One thought on “The Enigma Of Death – a Physician’s Perspective”

  1. Excellent Lee. I am not afraid either.
    And absolutely the best gift I have ever received is the one you shared with me when I asked you how you knew Gene had died.
    It is a gift on many many levels. I will treasure it until Jesus sweeps into His arms and we soar to heaven. Bless you dear friend

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *