Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 163–163 | Cite as


  • Stefanie ReiffEmail author
Healing Arts

Key Words

end of life care cancer burnout 

When I told you your wife was dying, I was thinking of chairs.

Wooden ones.

Like the ones in my college dorm room.

Hours to days

maybe days to weeks,

that’s what I told you.

Because doctors are notoriously bad at predicting.

A week later when your wife stopped

waking up, you cried in front of me.

My chin trembled,

but the chairs were there

so phenomenally ordinary, mundane even.

I wish I had better news,

I said.

I wish statements we call them

because saying you’re sorry implies culpability.

Two weeks in, I sat with you and looked

through every photo on your phone.

I saw your wedding, your dog.

She was beautiful.

Is. She is beautiful.

And so it goes that soon every day I wake

up to her and

go to sleep to her.

And my friends are asking

if this is healthy, if it’s ok.

And I try to find my chairs.

Wooden ones.

Like the ones in my college dorm room.

But instead you are there

and she is there

and the tears are there.

Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NYU Langone Hospital – BrooklynBrooklynUSA

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