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Recommended Reading: The Four Things That Matter Most

four things that matter most

Please forgive me.
I forgive you.
Thank you.
I love you.

ira byockThese four seemingly simple phrases begin Dr. Ira Byock’s book The Four Things That Matter Most. Byock is a leading palliative care physician and advocate for quality of life and quality of care for people living with advanced medical conditions.

In his role as a palliative care physician, he has learned the importance of saying these four important phrases and shares stories from his clinical practice. They may seem like “stating the obvious” in healthy family relationships, but when a family member holds onto grudges and disappointments, these words can be transformative for a loved one approaching end of life.

The Four Things That Matter Most shows that even when a family member has done great harm through neglect or abuse, saying these four phrases can provide healing and allow loved ones to complete their relationship in a healthy way. Even though the hurt and harm that was caused will always exist, saying “I forgive you” can reduce the control that difficult history has over the person who was harmed.

It’s clear from the conversations that a good therapist or social worker can help make the journey to these four phrases a little easier to navigate.

Reading these stories helps us understand how we can begin to practice using these phrases into our day-to-day lives instead of waiting until end of life. Letting those we care about know that we love, appreciate, and accept them can improve their emotional well-being and our own.

The Four Things That Matter Most by Ira Byock, MD is available at and everywhere books are sold.

If your loved one has already passed away, you can still find and offer forgiveness and complete your relationship in a healthy way with the support of a bereavement coordinator. Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care offers complimentary Grief Recovery Groups in all the communities we serve. Please call 1-888-564-3405 for more information. 


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