This allegory illustrates the ability of healthcare practitioners to ‘get over’ the death of their patients.


When, a few weeks before Christmas, he gave me the decorated bag containing a heavy gift I was embarrassed. He offered it to me with a smile, as though to say thank you for making me better. But I knew he wasn’t really improving, and that his prognosis remained poor. To be fair, I had been perfectly honest with him regarding the future. I took the bag home and was impressed to find a presentation shaving set inside. A high end razor, some shaving foam, some balm. I slid it under the bed, so that I did not have to look at it any more. It made me sad to see it.

He came to clinic regularly, he had some brief admissions. His condition gradually deteriorated. Then he was rushed in with a reduced level of consciousness and entered the premature, final phase of life. He was cheerful to the end.

Three months later, at six o’clock in the morning, I realised I had run out of shaving foam. I remembered the package, retrieved it, blew off the dust and began to use the shaving foam. Every morning, standing in front of the mirror, I looked at the container and remembered him. It was a strange way to start the day. After a couple of weeks his image no longer popped into my mind, what with the routine rush to get ready. Later, when the foam ran out, I took the container downstairs and threw it in the kitchen bin. It was encrusted, and the metal base was beginning to rust. The clang of metal on metal caused me to reflect briefly on the man who had given it to me, but, surprisingly, I struggled to remember his name.


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