All Poetry

To Let Go.


Asphyxiated by the device
meant to grant you life

you pleaded to be released.

Lines running
through your veins
fighting to give you strength-

they only imprisoned you.

always present
aware of the
commotion about you.

Bustling nurses
weeping children

through it all
your eyes were
locked onto mine.

“Help me let go” was your plea.

You grabbed my hand
shook your head

as if you knew this act
had been playing
long enough.

As if someone had
interrupted your journey
toward the place

you were meant to go.

So we released you.
Withdrew your tube
diminished your drips.

Severed the chains that bound you.

We comforted you.

You turned
toward your children.

Through a surge of strength
you assured them

it would be okay-
that through your going on
they would go on.

Then you turned back to me.

Though undeserving
of your last moments

you entrusted them to me.
You held my hand
held my gaze.

“Thank you,” was what you said.

And then you took your last breath.

And let us go.

 •       •       •

This patient has been in my heart lately. This post is a re-sharing of an account of our last encounter. A gentle reminder to treasure each moment given. 

 •       •       •

The Background Story

Phoebe Chi, MD
Phoebe Chi, MD

As a physician, clinical educator, and managing editor of PhoebeMD: Medicine + Poetry, Dr. Chi aims to inspire, educate, and empower the reader community. She is the author of Being Empowered for a Healthy Heart: A personal guide to taking control of your health while living with chronic conditions, a poetry-infused health guide, and founder of Pendants for a Cause, a nonprofit organization aimed toward helping others.

73 replies »

  1. This brought tears to my eyes as it is my wish. To be released from my chains. I cannot remember one day that I have not suffered. But, I trust God and I know I have a calling. I still look forward to the day of release. Beautiful poem. What a comfort you are to your patients. <3

  2. Thank you so much for sharing these two very intensely moving and thoughtful poems, which were straight from your heart. We need to discuss death more nad have a better understanding of the dying process and maybe lose some of our fear in the process. Dying does terrify me but my fears are abating after the close calls I’ve had.
    I can appreciate how you feel about your patient. I’m very close to all my doctors and when I had the flare up 2 years ago, I could see how upset they were too. We are on this journey together. My rheumatologist actually died about 2 years ago and that hit me. The doctor patient relationship isn’t straight forward but there can be some incredibly close ties.
    By the way, as I’m typing Bilbo is draped across my lap. He doesn’t usually come up and I suspect he’s still rattled by the storms xx Rowena

    • Hi Rowena 🙂

      Thank you for sharing this. It comforts my heart whenever I hear about experiences such as yours…it reassures me that the genuine patient-physician rapport has not been totally lost, and that it’s still very possible these days. I can only speak on the side of the caregiver, but I promise you that your physicians equally appreciate the relationship you share. I wish you the very best!

      And give Bilbo an extra hug for me. He’s such a wonderful (and wonderfully handsome) companion! 😀


      • You’re welcome, Phoebe. That relationship is very important, especially where there’s a complex or rare medical problem and it’s only through the detail that the vital clues can be found.
        Bilbo would love an extra hug. He said anyone who calls him handsome is a friend of his…even if they have a cat! xx Rowena

  3. Some say the bravest thing is to live……others say the bravest thing is to let go…..I think the bravest thing is living life as best you can then having a family and carer who are able to let go and allow the journey to continue……..when the time has come.

    Beautifully written and most sensitive poem…………..

  4. Excellent piece, Phoebe! A reminder of past times (nursing experiences) and present times (letting go) and the cornucopia of choices we all live with!

  5. A lovely piece of writing…. and a topic which is perhaps generally overlooked. I am always disappointed when I hear people demand their rights to allow a death, a suicide, an abortion etc. knowing full well that they are not going to be the one to actually facilitate it. Somewhere in the process is going to be a doctor with a conscience of his/her own; with sensitivities which may be offended, and with a memory which may never erase the event. Yes …….. we (the general public) may well have our rights, but let us not forget the people that will be asked to perform our will. A very sensitive read. Thank you.

    • A very thoughtful comment; thank you. I agree that a matter such as this is difficult for all parties involved, even the caregiver. I can only share my experience as one who is providing care, and these moments are never easy, no matter how many times I have encountered it.

      Wishing you and Ray the best 🙂

  6. Letting go is the hardest lesson for us to learn in the journey of our life. Unfortunately, it’s not a elective to anyone of us. Only the braver and wiser are able to pass this course. Thank you for sharing this with us.

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