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Top Five Regrets
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Posted 14-03-2011Reply

Top Five Regrets



By Bronnie Ware



For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learned never to underestimate someone's capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

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 people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people have had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honor at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realize, 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. Either that or 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 realize 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 realize until the end that happiness 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. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying. Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

Claudia
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  Rated +3 | Posted 14-03-2011

I am a doctor…so I am supposed to be used to seeing people suffering, to hearing them regretting wasting their time or life in fighting useless battles for selfish reasons.
Getting used to see the sufferance? Can anyone get used to this? Unfortunately yes. I know I can’t. I can’t walk away and smile in the next second, just because I have seen too many people being sick, in pain and that made me cold and careless.
However this last week was different even for me. I have spent it watching a sick relative, trying to take the right decisions and help her as much as I could.
I have watched her being moved to intensive care, a place where many lose hope of getting back home, of having their loved ones back, in a place where everywhere you turn your head you see pain, candles, tears, you hear whispered prayers, see doctors and nurses with empty looks and immobile faces…
I have watched one of the people who loved life and smiled in front of difficulties. I watched her being hopeless, on her last days with us.
She passed away yesterday…I went to light a candle and say a prayer for her today and I thought about life.
I thought about life exactly in the way this article was written. I wondered why people realize what they lose only when it’s too late. I asked myself why we all know how we’re supposed to live and still don’t do it?
Why do we keep hiding so often how we really are, feel? Why do we hide behind social conveniences, old habits, other people expectations and sit there idle, instead of standing up, sure of what we want and proud of who we are?
What are we taking with us in the end? Careers, money, glory, pride, ego? None of these… We will be defined by the ways we touched other people’s lives and we’d better be remembered how we really were and not how we pretended to be.

Let’s keep our feelings alive. Let’s define what we need and what makes us happy. Let’s not deny our happiness and forget our dreams, even if they might seem impossible or weird to others. It’s like the difference between living in light and hiding in the dark. Let’s be ourselves and not get confused, borrowing other people dreams and expectations.
In the end, we might have time to think of all these and regret missing the most important things. We might miss real care, we might miss love, we might feel sorry we spent so much time for others and not with the ones we love, we might feel we failed in understanding life in its essence.

Sri Manjari
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  Rated +1 | Posted 10-05-2011

Excellent post. Thanks for sharing. Sometimes circumstances and people around us force us to become hypocrites against our will. Yes there were times in my life itself where I wanted to do something badly and gave up because of happiness of others. And sometimes even if we dare the other people may find us as rebels or emotional etc and they fail us. Either ways people force us to compromise and irony is that we still care and love the ones who forced to change our course of action. Seriously, I am in for it if someone says "live life as you want" but as we all know we cannot clap with a single hand how much ever we want. Certain dreams require others support for realizing otherwise they remain unfulfilled forever.

Regards,
Sri Manjari.

Uma
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  Rated 0 | Posted 11-05-2011

I am a doctor…so I am supposed to be used to seeing people suffering, to hearing them regrett... See Claudia's complete reply


Well said clauds

Claudia
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  Rated 0 | Posted 13-05-2011

I am a doctor…so I am supposed to be used to seeing people suffering, to hearing them regrett... See Claudia's complete reply


Well said clauds


Thank you Uma. This topic pointed out what I was feeling for some time and I've just opened up my heart here.

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