Dr. Bernard Seltzer, an outstanding surgeon, discovered in midlife that he also had a gift for writing. Among other works, he has written a best-selling book that is being much discussed these days. It is called, “Mortal Lessons: Notes on the Art of Surgery.” One of the “mortal lessons” in the book is Dr. Seltzer’s insistence that when death occurs, especially the death of someone we deeply love, it is essential for us to contemplate the dead body as it is–not to turn away from it or to try to disguise it. He says, “He who shrinks from this contemplation is like an Elizabethan ‘dandy’ who breathes through a handkerchief that has been soaked in vinegar in order to avoid…
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