Tuesday, July 30, 2013

As Your Aging Parent Faces Death, Four Things Matter Most

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?

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