I was truly touched and impressed with the ideas, thoughts, and words of Dr. Ira Byock. The subject of death is generally one which most people prefer to avoid—even in the most dire, inevitable situations. I believe this man, and those who support him, have a very honest, honorable, and compassionate message to offer to humanity as a whole. As was mentioned in the interview, death is not something easy that we look forward to in times of quiet introspection and self-assertion. Regardless of who I was or what I’ve done in this life, the moment will eventually be present when I have to come to terms with the inevitable fact that I am going to die, and that is difficult for more reasons than just the journey into the unknown frontier of afterlife. Naturally, people will fight; we will grip tightly to life—all that we have ever known, experienced, learned, and loved. However, at the end of every natural progression of life, is death, and I feel strongly that people would only benefit from a medical staff, a spiritual council, a society that is educated and empathetic—as best they can be, having never actually died—to what we are immediately facing which goes far deeper than just ceasing to exist in this body. I think that there could not be anything more supportive or compassionate than being surrounded by people who are truly thinking about what is important in what could possibly be our last moments. I feel like Dr. Byock could not have chosen a better set of 11 words to sum this up. “Please forgive me. I forgive you. Thank you. I love you.” I cannot think of anything residing in my heart of hearts that would not be expressed satisfactorily in a conversation focused on the meaning behind these 11 words.
Perhaps the most impressive detail about this interview to me was how inclusive the application of these ideas is to all people. When I look at life, and all that separates us and makes us different, only childbirth and death stand out as being events that remain pure and unaffected in their significance by any standards, circumstances, or experiences of human society. Compassion and understanding for others in times of joy and especially sadness are emotions that for some reason have become rare, if not obsolete, for so many. Starting, or rather jumping on board, with a new wave of people in professional or social environments setting the example of how to lovingly guide people to a path—inevitably leading to death—littered with expressions of forgiveness, gratitude, and love could be infectious to the point of pandemic. I cannot imagine anything better than finding peace within my heart and knowing that I left that example behind for those who were there with me on my way out of this world. And that, is the very opportunity I believe people like Dr. Byock are providing and working to establish within the hearts of people everywhere. This interview, and all the ideas therein, is something I am not soon to forget, and I am thankful for having had the opportunity to hear it.
More information about text formats