Anatomy Memorial Service Speech

Vanessa DeMelo, Meds 2017

Thank you so much to everyone for coming here today. My name is Vanessa DeMelo, and I’m a first year medical student. I want to share a personal story with you today, as a way of thanking and perhaps helping to put into perspective the gift that your loved one gave.

I’ve known for as long as I can remember that my maternal grandfather ‘donated his body to science’. That’s how it was presented to me, and how I already referred to it in my mind. Lung cancer is a terrible way to die, but I knew in general ideas that he was able to contribute somehow after his death. It wasn’t until this year that I felt I was able to understand what that meant.

Going into the anatomy lab on the first day was a somewhat terrifying and unsettling experience for me. I had to psych myself up beforehand, and remained hyperaware of what was going on around me. Perhaps because I was aware that each of the donated bodies around me had a story, and I was mentally trying to reconcile that with the learning we were about to do. I didn’t know what to expect and, to say in the least, I was nervous.

However, it proved that these nerves were quite unfounded. On the first day of lab, we had a memorial service of our own, with readings and expressions of gratitude and respect. It did more to calm me that I can express, and gave me the mindset of appreciative learning. It is with that mindset that I and my classmates were able to discover new things and synthesize what we were learning in class to real human anatomy. It was an invaluable learning experience, and one I am incredibly grateful for.

In closing, perhaps the most comforting experience throughout all of this was going home and talking to my mom about what had happened. In explaining the memorial service, the amount of respect and the genuinely phenomenal learning experience we were getting from all of this, I was able to see a look on her face that was somewhat indescribable. Perhaps comfort, reassurance and peace. It gave me the strength to approach each lab with eagerness and zeal.

I cannot truly express how grateful I am for the give your loved ones gave, but I hope by sharing my story I am able to give some peace to what you as family members have gone through and will go through. Your loved ones are not forgotten.