Every year, my medical school has a memorial service in honour of the people who donated their bodies. Their friends and family are invited, and students are given the option to attend to show respect.
I was one of the students who volunteered to go, and I’m really glad I went because it really was an experience. We got to hear the names of the donors for the first time, and that was when it really hit me that they had been actual living, breathing people, who’d had lives, and made memories, and had meant a lot to their loved ones.
People in my year spoke about how grateful we all were for the opportunity to have actual bodies to dissect, because we really do learn so much more that way- it makes such a difference to see structures in person.
I can’t begin to imagine how hard it must have been for the friends and family of the donors, to not have been able to get closure from a proper funeral. The fact that they made that sacrifice for our learning, really made me realise how privileged we are to get to study anatomy like this.
John 15:13 says, “There’s no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,” but I think continuing in death to help strangers goes even further than that. And that is something I will never take for granted again.