Doctor pens touching letter to thank David Bowie
A doctor specialising in end-of-life care has written a moving letter to David Bowie thanking him for helping him talk to people about death.
Dr Mark Taubert, palliative care consultant at Velindre NHS Trust in Cardiff, told Bowie his death had prompted a "weighty" discussion with a dying woman in hospital and opened up the possibility for some patients that they could die at home.
He wrote on the blogs website page of the British Medical Journal (BMJ): "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.
"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."
Bowie died from cancer aged 69 on January 10, surrounded by his family.
Dr Taubert said the woman had been told her cancer had spread and that she would not live much longer than a year.
"She talked about you and loved your music, but for some reason was not impressed by your Ziggy Stardust outfit (she was not sure whether you were a boy or a girl)," he wrote.
"She too, had memories of places and events for which you provided an idiosyncratic soundtrack. And then we talked about a good death, the dying moments and what these typically look like.
"And we talked about palliative care and how it can help. She told me about her mother's and her father's death, and 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.
"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."
Starting the letter with "Dear David", Dr Taubert also thanked the musician for personal moments, including the ChangesOneBowie album in the 1980s which provided him and some friends "with hours of joyful listening, in particular on a trip from Darmstadt to Cologne and back".
He said dying at home and the last photos of Bowie carrying "off a sharp suit" would help people deal with the idea that the last weeks of life have to be about "scary monsters".
He said: "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."