Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Between the Lines

Death shall have no dignity

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 15 September 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3506
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

    The criticism of the inscriptions on tombstones from the literary point of view is a minor branch of literary criticism as a whole, but there is no doubt that the quality of such inscriptions has declined precipitously in this country since about 1990.

    Just as nurses were taught to address their patients by their first names, and diminutives of their first names, on the grounds that it was friendly to do so, so, on tombstones, Mother became Mum, or more often the Americanised “Mom,” there were no fathers any more but only Dads, and Nans, Nanas, Granpas, and Grampys began to appear in large numbers.

    Diminutives appeared …

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