Jonathan Taylor, the mercurial genius who from time to time gilds this dull little blog with his inspired intelligence, glorious whimsy and beauty of spirit, once observed that the time between death and the funeral gives people the time to get the heads around the difference between ‘you and it’ – between a living person and a dead thing from which the spirit (if any) has flown.
For many professionals working at the interface between life and death, ‘it-ness’ can happen pretty fast. “That’s not a person, it’s a thing.” There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that – so long as it isn’t attended by a coarsening of the emotions which manifests as cruelty or carelessness.
It can happen. This is from yesterday’s Birmingham Post.
Birmingham’s largest hospital trust has launched an investigation into its private porter services after dead bodies were left for hours on wards.
Lung patient Sarah Stevenson, from Small Heath, described in March the “horrendous stench” she was forced to endure on Ward 9 at Heartlands after three patients died on the same day and they were not removed for hours.
Whistleblower David Whitsey, a porter at the hospital for nine years … claimed lack of training led to the body of patient Dora Parker, aged 81, from Kitts Green, being dropped while lifted on to a trolley shortly after she died in 2003, causing a gash on her head to the shock of daughter-in-law Patricia Parker.
Read the whole sorry story here. (Hat-tip to Tony Piper for this)