You’ll Want To Read This Thank You Letter A Palliative Care Doctor Wrote To David Bowie

By: 01.18.16
UK: The Nokia Isle of Wight Festival 2004 - Day Three

Getty Image / Jo Hale

The recent passing of David Bowie still aches like the nasty gut punch that it is, but at least the world’s been flooded with endless stories of the impact the music legend has had on our lives. Included in the tales and tributes and certainly worth your attention is a heartfelt, extensive thank-you letter from a British palliative care doctor.

In an open letter addressed to Bowie, Dr Mark Taubert outlines the way his life has been touched by the mega-talented multi-hyphenate. In addition to sharing his own personal memories of how Bowie helped soundtrack portions of his life, Taubert also lauded Bowie for how he approached death with dignity and an artist’s touch:

Thank you for Lazarus and Blackstar. I am a palliative care doctor, and what you have done in the time surrounding your death has had a profound effect on me and many people I work with. Your album is strewn with references, hints and allusions. As always, you don’t make interpretation all that easy, but perhaps that isn’t the point. I have often heard how meticulous you were in your life. For me, the fact that your gentle death at home coincided so closely with the release of your album, with its good-bye message, in my mind is unlikely to be coincidence. All of this was carefully planned, to become a work of death art. The video of Lazarus is very deep and many of the scenes will mean different things to us all; for me it is about dealing with the past when you are faced with inevitable death.

Taubert points to Bowie’s life in the days leading up to his passing as a sterling example of how palliative care should be.

Many people I talk to as part of my job think that death predominantly happens in hospitals, in very clinical settings, but I presume you chose home and planned this in some detail. 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. The photos that emerged of you some days after your death, were said to be from the last weeks of your life. I do not know whether this is correct, but I am certain that many of us would like to carry off a sharp suit in the same way that you did in those photos. You looked great, as always, and it seemed in direct defiance of all the scary monsters that the last weeks of life can be associated with.

It’s a profound brand of tribute that’s definitely worth your time. Bowie’s son Duncan Jones had been quiet on Twitter since confirming the passing of his father, but he returned to the social media service yesterday to share the doctor’s letter, and we can understand why.

(via BMJ Blogs)

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