In 2006, I read a book called The Four Things That Matter Most by Dr. Ira Byock, who is an international leader in palliative care. In 2016 the book was rereleased as a 10th Anniversary edition with updated stories from some of the many people who have benefited from from the original book.
If you’ve read my previous post – 11 Simple Words, available here, you know that I lived with regret and shame for over twenty years of my life. Regret is one of those emotions that will sap the joy out of your day to day life, and if left unresolved, it can plague you when you reach the end of your life. It’s something that Dr. Byock has seen over and over in his work with people who have a terminal illness, and not expressing these four simple phrases — “Please forgive me,” “I forgive you,” “Thank you,” and “I love you” are most often one of the Top 5 Regrets of the dying.
But the book goes beyond teaching you what to say at the end of life, it teaches us how to practice these life – affirming words in our day to day lives. Even if you feel that your loved ones already know how much you care and love them, stating the obvious can have a profound effect on your life today.
Reading The Four Things That Matter Most was what sparked my passion for writing Soul Letters. I realized how many people not only die with regret but also live their lives every day with regret, and how regret can be such a crippling force in our lives.
So my advice, as always, is to NOT wait until the end of your life to express how you feel about your loved ones. Doing it NOW can help heal and deepen our relationships. Doing it NOW can change your life and give you the chance to live and eventually die without regret.