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Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Most common Regrets of the Dying
Subject: Most Common Regrets of the Dying
Priorities become crystal clear when people are about to die. This has been the observation of nursing staff while working with terminally ill patients. Bronnie Ware spent several years caring for dying people in their homes. She shares the five most common regrets the dying have.
For many years I worked in palliative care. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with most of them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.
People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, of denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Though, every single patient found their peace before they departed.
When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This was the most common regret of all. When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long distance away from your mind. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and died knowing that it was due to choices they did not make , invariably due to influence of others.
When people realise that their life is almost over and look back, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way, till your health is intact. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.
By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.
We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are, by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Alternately, it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.
It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end.
That is all that remains in the final weeks…. love and relationships.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that hapiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives.
Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. Deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.
Bottomline: How wonderful would it be, not to have any of these five regrets , just as you are about to depart.
Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.