Today my school held the annual Gift of Body ceremony to honor and put to rest those who have donated their bodies to us. Many of the students attended, wearing our white coats, and together we walked to the cemetery. Several students from different religious groups on campus spoke kind words to the families who attended, and some students sang a song. It was truly a beautiful ceremony.
I have been pretty vocal about my experiences in anatomy lab and how much body donation has made an impact in my education. My cadaver, Walter, was a huge part of my first year of medical school, and I still remember him fondly. Today’s ceremony was a proper way to remember him, to thank him, and to finally put him to rest. I was honored and touched to be a part of it.
This week has been a tough one for me, as my family experienced a loss of its own. It was really moving for me to see the family members of those who donated their bodies. It is hard to say goodbye to the ones we love, and I can’t imagine how much harder it is to give their body over to strangers.
When the ceremony was finished, I watched as a woman approached the tombstone and saluted it. I couldn’t help but think of Walter. That could be Walter’s wife. Those could be his grandkids running around. How blessed am I that someone gave Walter to me? I will never be able to repay that gift, but at least today, I was able to stand at the cemetery and show those families how much it meant it to me.
Thank you so, so much to those who donate their bodies to science and to their families. I know that God will bless you for your sacrifice.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. Let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.