As life draws to a close for your aging parent--or for any of us, for that matter--the complex becomes simple. Dr. Ira Byock, MD, author of "The Four Things That Matter Most," boils down the essence of end of life into four sentences:
1. Please forgive me.
2. I forgive you.
3. Thank you.
4. I love you.
Notice the order. Forgiveness comes first. Not terribly surprising.
Dr. Byock's preface contains a meaningful quote by theologian Paul Tillich about forgiveness.
"Forgiving presupposes remembering. And it creates a forgetting, not in the natural way we forget yesterday's weather; but in the way of the great 'in spite of' that says I forget although I remember: Without this kind of forgetting no human relationship can endure healthily."
Our job is to listen, support and affirm. And forgive. As we hear these four sentences--either audibly or nonverbally--we enfold our aging parent in love.
Are any of you supporting your aging parent as life draws to a close? How do you describe your most important role?