Reaching out on social media for the first time since he confirmed that his father, Hall of Fame rocker David Bowie, succumbed to cancer on Jan. 10 at age 69, Duncan Jones retweeted a heartfelt open letter to his dad from a doctor sharing the “profound effect” Bowie made on him and his colleagues.
“Dear David … Whilst realization of your death was sinking in during those grey, cold January days of 2016, many of us went on with our day jobs,” Dr. Mark Taubert, a palliative care consultant in Cardiff, Wales, wrote in his Jan. 15 “Thank you letter to David Bowie” on a blog of the British Medical Journal. It was shared by cancer charity Marie Curie and retweeted by Jones, 44 [above], on Sunday. “At the beginning of that week I had a discussion with a hospital patient, facing the end of her life. 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.”
Palliative care, according to the Center to Advance Palliative Care is “specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness” with the goal of improving the “quality of life for both the patient and the family.” And Dr. Taubert gratefully insisted to Bowie in his letter that “the fact that your gentle death at home coincided so closely with the release of your album [“Blackstar”], with its good-bye message, in my mind is unlikely to be coincidence. All of this was carefully planned, to become a work of death art.”
Photo: Duncan Jones/Twitter
“What you have done in the time surrounding your death has had a profound effect on me and many people I work with,” the physician declared. “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,” Taubert added. “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.”
Describing his consultations with a woman suffering from cancer, the doctor shared: “She talked about you and loved your music … 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 … 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. Thank you.”
Taubert’s letter hasn’t just comforted Bowie’s son, though. The singer’s fans have responded on social media about how they share and appreciate the doctor’s sentiments as well. “Just been through end of life with my father, who passed away with his loved ones in his home, holding his hand and this letter was like reliving the moment … Thank you for explaining why it’s so important to carry out ones wishes if at all possible,” wrote one commenter on the Huffington Post UK’s repost of Taubert’s letter in full. “[The] sentiment in this open letter was beautiful,” added another commenter. “It has raised the important issue of palliative care (along with more personal content), which is also meaningful, considerate and informative for most. A fitting tribute for David Bowie indeed.”
Top photo: Getty Images