Writing about death seems very emo, as if death is this romanticized monster we’re all running away from. Although, for many people in the medical field, death isn’t a bruting darkness, but a cold-hard fact of life.
In many ways doctors and nurses work for death, humbly serving where she dictates, all without the promise of glory or reward. These men and women spend more than a decade studying, training, dedicating their lives to the sole purpose of saving others.
This may sound redundant, but when studying the body you come to the realization that it’s alive. Every cell, every fiber of your body vibrates with life and purpose, each with a job to do and the skills to do it. The body completes millions of tasks everyday on it’s own accord, most out of your control. The transportation of blood through your veins, the beating of your heart, the expansion of your lungs all done without the slightest command from you.
However, that free will of your body also allows it the ability to just stop. Whether it be quickly, with warning, without, but ultimately yields the same result. At some point, every student studying medicine must understand that if the body is truly ready to stop living, there’s nothing you can do to stop it. No magic cure-all, it just stops.
Fortunately, a lot of patients reach this understanding as well. Take for instance the people in cardiac rehab, a place for those with weak hearts who work to strengthen it. When observing a session, you fall witness to several patients making jokes claiming they won’t live to their next appointment, or their heart might as well give out while on the treadmill. It becomes obvious their acceptance of death is what helps them through their sessions. They don’t ignore the possibility of death but choose to enter the fight as an underdog hoping to be the victor, knowing they may not be.
There’s no real conclusion to this point. After all, everyone views death in a different way; the exchange of lives, the extension to your own, or your longest sleep. What can be said is those who accept the most natural and human result of our bodies are often the ones who have longer before they meet it.
Call it a placebo effect, but studies have shown that when a patient acknowledges the inevitability of death, their road to recovery often becomes a pleasant one. In addition, when a doctor understands their human limitation they have the most successful practice, one where loss and healing are often found in pairs.
Written by Liliana Reyes