CAMLAW: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog

Five Things Everyone Needs to Say

I was reading Integrative Oncology from cover to cover, when I came across this statement under "Search for Meaning" in the final chapter (by Matthew Mumber, MD) on palliative and end-of-life care.

"Five things that everyone needs to say at life's end: forgive me; I forgive you; thank you; I love you; goodbye."

I'd been struck earlier in the week by an article in Yoga Journal entitled "The Longest Goodbye."

Spontaneously the resonance of that phrase touched some deep well of grief. For whom was I grieving? There are so many ... loved ones, persons I cherish and remember, those that appear in various ways from time to time in memories, dreams, mists of reflection ... the ancestors.

The well of grief though contains the spring of love. It subsists deep within coexisting with the nourishing waters of love for the living.

The veil between the worlds is thinner than we think. Someday perhaps we will be the ones who are shades, and love the living from the other side. Time and space will appear, as they say in energy medicine, "nonlocal," though contact with others will be like a local call.

Still, considering the five things everyone needs to say, it seems to me these things shouldn't wait for life's end.

They should be said every day, like a mantra, like a prayer.

Forgive me.
I forgive you.

I think these first two will stop war. They will certainly resolve conflict.

Thank you.

This one will build indestructible bridges. I'm reminded of the role of appreciation in the newly released Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate by colleagues Roger Fisher and Daniel Shapiro of Harvard Law School's Program on Negotiation. Professors Fisher and Shapiro recommend in order to take the initiative when strong emotions arise during negotiations, you: express appreciation; build affiliation; respect autonomy; acknowledge status; and choose a fulfilling role.

I love you.

What more can one say to that?

Good bye.

Well, I might want to work on that one a little. Grief is okay, but after the storm comes the calm, and bliss is fine too. How about goodbye in this form, we'll see each other in another. How about this:

Thank you.
I love you.
See you on the other side.

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Michael H. Cohen, Esq.; 468 North Camden Dr. | Beverly Hills, California 90210 | 310-844-3173