I’ve used the word privilege before when talking about being a doctor, because there are many privileges afforded the medical profession. Doctors share people’s lives in a way few other professions do. We witness intimate and private moments normally shielded from strangers.
We witness women in labour, when they’re at their most vulnerable, followed by the ecstasy of birth and the beginnings of a new life.
But even more special than that, I believe, is witnessing a person’s death—the moment someone takes their last breath, the moment their heart stops beating. The moment you realise the person is still and will not breathe again. Death itself, though, is more a process than a moment—a slowing, an easing, a gradual passage from alive to not alive. And when it comes, the stillness is almost a comfort.
It’s a privilege to share.