In contrast to an abrupt, easy death, dying of a progressive illness offers precious opportunities to complete the most important of life's relationships. This includes the chance to reconcile strained relationships, perhaps between previous spouses, or between a parent and an estranged adult child. When the story of two people ends well, a warm light is shone on all that has preceded. Even at the very end of life, healing a relationship can transform the history of a family. A relationship that is complete need not end; in this context, complete means there is nothing left unsaid or undone. When a dying person and a loved one come to feel complete between themselves, time together tends to be as full of joy and loving affection as sadness.

Ira Byock, Dying Well