We all labour against our own cure; for death is the cure of all diseases.
– Thomas Browne; Religio Medici, 1642
For a doctor, hospital beds more than often become living, breathing humans, and humans become the bed numbers. So when one of these hospital bed ‘dies’, or when a human becomes ‘empty’, how do you react? Do you mourn the loss of another life lost? Do you let those fixed, dilated pupils remind you that there is much that you can not do in the face of Nature’s game? Do you acknowledge your own fragile limitations? Do you push aside your busy schedule and utter a small prayer that is meant more for yourself than for the departed soul? Do you take out a moment to simply offer compassion and empathy to the grieving family standing in front of you? Or do you carelessly, insensitively throw out a command that is supposed to ensure that the hospital dues are cleared before the body is taken home, before moving on to make a politically incorrect joke with a bored colleague?
These empty beds where once someone’s dear one lay, are more than that, really. And what exactly it is, that is for us to feel.