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A letter to the hospice doctor who helped us to say goodbye

Anonymous, The Guardian, 26 March 2016

Over the next days, when on duty, you appear quietly in the room with an aura of respect for the sacred space we have created with flowers, cards and drawings by grandchildren. You never talk loudly to my father as if he is deaf or stupid. You also never adopt the drippy, concerned tone often used by professionals with the ill or grieving. Your gaze is clear and direct, as is the information you give us. Dad is taking his time, he has things to say and his body is not quite ready to close down.

“This is not a medical condition we can treat, or something I can help with drugs or charts,” you say, as I pack away my violin after playing the Scottish folk tunes of Dad’s childhood to him. “This,” she gestures to my son sitting on the bed, the guitar lying on the chair, Mum holding Dad’s hand. “This is all that’s important now.”

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