Dear Life by Rachel Clarke
D E A R L I F E
Dr Rachel Clarke is a former journalist who changed careers to medicine and now specialises in palliative care — a term I have always, somewhat ignorantly, associated with the mere act of dying. Clarke’s book conveys that it is about so much more than death itself. The stories she tells are incredible — there is visceral sadness and tragedy, including the loss of her own father which is woven throughout her narrative — but there is also deep, deep hope because, she shows us, in palliative care, you see first hand the very best of humanity. There are stories of fierce courage and rich love and we hear how those nearing their ends have the capacity to truly appreciate the wonders of the every day. We would all do well to learn from these patients and to try to see the magic of what surrounds us — more often than not, we think we have forever but the only certainty we have in life is indeed, the very fact that ours will end. This book will help adjust your perspective and reflect on your life and the world differently — and for the better.
This is a love letter/instruction manual to the NHS and should be mandatory reading for every medical professional. This book also heralds the unflinching courage of so many, the daily tragedy faced, the bravery of her colleagues together with the gut wrenching stories of those in her care. As someone with a chronic illness I recognised what she depicts in patients being taken out of the equation in medicine at times and this is the brilliance of Dear Life – it is a collation of her story, her patients’ stories and her position that at the core of medicine should be the person being treated. Her position is elegantly corroborated by the heart rendering descriptions of her experiences as a doctor. It made me unabashedly cry at a few points and gasp at the some of the best examples of humanity at its strongest. This will make any reader treasure the time they have and appreciate the beauty of life.