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人生最后一封信,写给亲爱的人

更新时间:2016-9-10 10:20:39 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Writing a ‘Last Letter’ When You’re Healthy
人生最后一封信,写给亲爱的人

Over the last 15 years, as a geriatrics and palliative care doctor, I have had candid conversations with countless patients near the end of their lives. The most common emotion they express is regret: regret that they never took the time to mend broken friendships and relationships; regret that they never told their friends and family how much they care; regret that they are going to be remembered by their children as hypercritical mothers or exacting, authoritarian fathers.

过去15年间,作为一名老年病学及舒缓疗护医生,我和无数即将走到生命尽头的病人进行过多次坦诚对话。他们最常表达的情感是遗憾:遗憾从未花时间去弥合破裂的友谊和关系;遗憾从未告诉朋友和家人自己有多在乎他们;遗憾会以吹毛求疵的母亲或严苛专制的父亲的形象留在儿女的记忆里。

And that’s why I came up with a project to encourage people to write a last letter to their loved ones. It can be done when someone is ill, but it’s really worth doing when one is still healthy, before it’s too late.

正因为如此,我推出了一个项目,鼓励大家给挚爱之人写最后一封信。这封信可以在生病的时候写,但在身体尚且康泰、一切尚未太迟之前就写下来,会是非常好的选择。

It’s a lesson I learned years ago from a memorable dying patient. He was a Marine combat veteran who had lived on a staple diet of Semper Fi and studied silence all his life. A proud and stoic man, he was admitted to the hospital for intractable pain from widely spread cancer. Every day, his wife visited him and spent many hours at his bedside watching him watch television. She explained to me that he had never been much of a talker in their 50-plus years of marriage.

这是多年前,我从一位令人难忘的临终病人身上学到的。他是海军陆战队的一名退伍老兵,以“永远忠诚”为人生信条,一辈子沉默寡言。这个骄傲而又坚忍的男人,因癌细胞大面积扩散,导致顽固性疼痛而收治入院。妻子每天都会前来探视,在他的病床旁待上好几个钟头,看着他看电视。她跟我解释,在他们50多年的婚姻生活中,他向来少言寡语。

But he was far more forthcoming with me, especially when it became clear that his days were numbered. He spoke of his deep regret for not having spent enough time with his wife, whom he loved very much, and of his great pride in his son, who had joined the Marines in his father’s footsteps.

但他和我倒很有话说,尤其是在他显然已经时日无多的时候。他说自己非常后悔没有花足够多的时间陪伴深爱的妻子;他还满怀骄傲地谈起了追随自己的脚步加入海军陆战队的儿子。

One afternoon, when I mentioned these comments to his wife and son, they looked incredulously at each other and then disbelievingly at me. They thanked me for being kind but stated that my patient was incapable of expressing such sentiments.

一天下午,当我对他的妻儿提及这些话的时候,他们对看了一眼,又望向我,满脸的难以置信。他们感谢了我的好意,但却表示,他不可能表达这样的情感。

I wanted to prove my credibility and to make sure that his wife could actually hear her husband professing his love. I knew he was unlikely to speak to them directly. So I took my huge family camcorder with me the next morning on medical rounds and – with the patient’s consent — recorded an open letter from him to his family. When I gave them the taped letter as a keepsake, both his wife and son were moved to tears.

我想要证明自己没说谎,并确保他妻子真的能够听到他坦陈爱意。我知道他不愿意直接告诉他们。所以第二天早上巡房时,我带上了巨大的家用摄像机,并征得病人的同意,录下了他给家人的公开信。当我把录下来的话语作为信物交给他的妻儿时,他们感动得热泪盈眶。

The experience inspired an idea that has grown into the Stanford Friends and Family Letter Project. With guidance from seriously ill patients and families from various racial and ethnic groups, we developed a free template for a letter that can help people complete seven life review tasks: acknowledging important people in our lives; remembering treasured moments; apologizing to those we may have hurt; forgiving those who have hurt us; and saying “thank you,” “I love you” and “goodbye.”

上述经历给了我灵感,把它转化成了斯坦福亲友书信项目(Stanford Friends and Family Letter Project)。在来自不同族裔群体的危重病人及其家人指引下,我们设计出了免费的信件范本,可以帮助大家完成回顾人生的七项任务:确认我们生命中重要的人;回忆珍视的时刻;向伤害过的人道歉;原谅伤害过我们的人;说“谢谢你”,“我爱你”,以及“再见”。

While these may seem intuitive, many people don’t complete these steps before they die, leaving their family members with unanswered questions and regret.

这些任务看起来或许颇为直观,但许多人在去世前并没有全部完成,为家人留下未解之谜和深深的遗憾。

The letter template, which is available in eight languages, allows writers to express gratitude, forgiveness and regret. In one letter, a participant wrote to his wife, Lily, “I wish I had loved you more.”

信件范本共有八种语言可供选择,可以让写信人表达自己的感激、谅解和遗憾。一位参与者在信中对妻子莉莉(Lily)说,“如果我曾更爱你该有多好。”

Many writers use the templates to express pride in their children in ways they might not do in person. One wrote to a son, Michael: “You are so courageous to change your major and do what it takes to be successful to reach your dreams.” Another wrote, “Life for us was never easy but you overcame obstacles.”

许多人会利用它来告诉子女,自己为他们感到骄傲,而在面对面时,这些话或许难以出口。一位参与者在信中告诉儿子迈克尔(Michael):“你转换专业,尽一切努力实现自己的梦想,实在是太有勇气了。”另一位写道,“我们的生活从未一帆风顺,但你克服了重重障碍。”

And some apologize. A man named Tyrone Scott wrote to his daughter, “I’m sorry that I wasn’t there when you were growing up. If I could relive my past, I would not have let your mother take you away from me.”

有些人则会道歉。一个名叫泰隆·斯科特(Tyrone Scott)的男人在信中对女儿说:“很抱歉没能在你长大成人的过程中陪伴左右。如果可以重新来过,我不会让你妈妈把你从我身边带走。”

The letters can be a chance to let go of grudges. Shirley Jones wrote, “To Harold: You have forgotten to repay some of the personal loans you obtained from us. We are wiping your account cleared.”

写信还可以是放下恩怨的契机。雪莉·琼斯(Shirly Jones)写道:“致哈罗德(Harold):你忘了偿还从我们这儿得到的某些私人贷款。我们已经把你的帐一笔勾销了。”

So we invite you to use the “Dear Friends and Family” template and write your letter now while you still can.

所以我们诚邀各位使用“挚爱亲朋”信件范本,在你还能活动的时候写下心里话。

Those with chronic or serious illness may use the illness letter template; there is also a healthy letter template for those in good health. In working with people from diverse cultural backgrounds, I found that some were reluctant to complete the “goodbye” task for fear that it might become a become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I recommend that people write only the parts they feel comfortable with.

患有慢性病或者重症的人可以使用病人书信范本,身体健康的人则可以使用健康人士书信范本。在与来自不同文化背景的人士合作的过程中,我发现有些人不愿完成说“再见”的任务,因为担心这或许会成为自我实现的预言。我建议大家只写不会让自己感到不舒服的部分。

Once the letter is written, you can choose to share it with your loved ones right away. You can also store it in a safe place or with a trusted person to be given to your family in the future. Some people prefer to use the letter as a living legacy document and update it over time.

写完信以后,你可以选择立即和亲友分享。你也可以把它存在一个安全的地方或者一个信得过的人手中,等到以后再交给家人。有些人倾向于把信当成可更新的遗书,会不时地加以修正。

It may take tremendous courage to write a life review letter. For some people, it evokes deep and troubling emotions. Yet it may be the most important letter you will ever write.

写一封回顾人生的信可能需要巨大的勇气。对一些人来说,它会勾起内心深处令人不安的情感。不过,它或许是你一生中写的最重要的信。

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