I refuse to order bereavement cards. I never even thought about this as being a part of my “package” – business cards, white coats, bereavement cards. I’m a surgical oncologist, almost all of my patients have breast cancer. I realize that some of them are going to die. It just never occurred to me that I have a job that requires a box full of bereavement cards at the ready. Cookie cutter, pre-printed tangible reminders of a major fallacy in of our life’s work.

I learned that our administrative staff orders bereavement cards for the faculty because one of the new faculty, less than one year into practice, wanted to customize her cards. Just 10 months was all it took for her to have her first patient die of his disease. When I asked our administrative assistant about it, she schooled me on the process and asked me if I wanted to go ahead and order some for next year. I declined.

So, for now, I have decided that I will not order any bereavement cards. I will not have the box in my desk. I have a craft desk at home. I make jewelry, cards, paintings with my daughter all on my craft desk. If I ever need a bereavement card I will make it at that desk. I will craft it with my own hands – on the same desk where I make thank you cards, earring gifts, and paintings of the sun.