Dr. Ira Byock: Nurturing a Relationship During Grief

Professor at Dartmouth Medical School Dr. Ira Byock shares with the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) four key items to keep in mind in order to maintain a whole relationship. He’s also the Director of Palliative Medicine, and has been involved with hospice care for over 30 years. In emergency medicine and private practice, he created a foundation to work with palliative care now full-time. Keeping your relationships current and complete is critical with end of life care. Think of it like a circle: There’s nothing broken or left undone.

“Please forgive me,” “I forgive you,” “Thank you,” and “I love you” are the four must-have items, and they’re just 11 words. It’s a way to ensure nothing is left unsaid. What if someone died suddenly (and not just those in hospice care)? These four phrases are often the biggest regrets, and it’s something you can say on a daily basis. You just have to be mortal, not dying, in order to utter these four phrases. Leaving something unsaid can traumatize a person, and it’s so easy to prevent this circumstance.

A Fuller Life

Every relationship is worth mending, tending, and nurturing according to Dr. Byock. Humans strive for perfection, but we’re all imperfect. The next best thing is learning how to apologize. It’s how you can still be in relationships that blossom. It’s critical to be gentle with yourself and others. Your loved ones might be prone to saying things they wish they hadn’t. They’re just like you, so gentleness is huge.

Forgiveness is an unattended area of human life, and a skill so many people don’t hone. It demands giving up all hope for a better past, while not letting the past dictate the future.


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